Damien Wilkins adds to family legacy as head of Overtime Elite

Now he is pioneering a system that provides another opportunity for basketball’s top prospects to reach their professional goals. Overtime Elite, in its first full year since its launch in March 2021, provides them with the potential tools to help them develop their skills, work on their academic objectives, and empower them financially.

He’s starting to see some fruits of his efforts to continue down the NBA’s traditional path. Former team overtime forward Dominic Barlow signed a two-way contract with Spurs, and guard Jean Monteiro signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Knicks.

In the upcoming NBA Draft class, Amen and Ausar Thompson are projected to have a lottery pick, while Jajian Gortman is projected to be a second round pick.

“Obviously, we have a lot of work to do next,” Wilkins said. “But I think since we started there’s a lot of different things going on that let people know we’re not going anywhere. We’re disruptive. Yeah. But I think that’s the plan. , of doing things differently, non-traditionally.”

They have recruited nine players for the upcoming season, including Nasser Cunningham, the No. 1 high school basketball recruit in the 2024 class. Cunningham has offers from Duke, UCLA and 10 other schools.

The NBA isn’t the only way the Overtime Elite encourages its signers to try.

Emmanuel Maldonado was drafted into the Balonesto Superior National League in Puerto Rico by Mates de Guayanabo. Eight players also graduated from Overtime Elite Academy in its first year and have tried to teach them other ways to get into basketball.

To do this, he has tried to use the experience of Wilkins, who played in the NBA with the Sonics, Thunder, Timberwolves, Hawks, Pistons, 76ers and Pacers. He was also a regional representative for the National Basketball Players Association for three years, where he, after his retirement in 2018, supported players with “off the court” resources to help them advance their respective careers.

Prior to his professional career, Wilkins was named a McDonald’s All-American in 1999 before playing basketball at NC State for two years. He tested the waters in 2001 in conjunction with the NBA, but opted to return to school.

A coach told him not to return to NC State, and Wilkins said he relocated to Georgia after he had a chip on his shoulder. A solid career in Georgia, however, ended in controversy as the Bulldogs’ bid for the NCAA Tournament was railroaded by a conflict between Tony Cole and coach Jim Harrick.

Wilkins, however, decides to embrace the turmoil, and he uses it to prepare the 30 players in the Overtime Elite for their future. He hopes that his visible role as GM and head of basketball operations for the overtime elite can show that there are plenty of ways to be successful in basketball.

“It’s everything,” Wilkins said. “It’s all about me. Like all of this, the struggles, the demands, the hard work that goes into it, the uncertainty, right?

“They have sacrificed a lot. Our first few people (are) gave up their eligibility to come here and become leaders, the people who helped them, the new wave of people find scholarship options, all of them to come here. So I’m indebted to them, we’re indebted to them to give them what we have. If it means sometimes to help us share our experiences and those things with them, When they’re going left, so be it.”

The Hawks’ local presence in the overtime elite serves as an example to their younger players. They use home games and players’ visits to their advantage and show them what success can look like for them.

Following his father’s advice, the younger Wilkins insisted on overtime elite players not to burn bridges. He has tried to impress upon them the importance of nurturing their professional relationships as they have no idea where this could lead them.

That advice has helped him throughout his career. As Wilkins continues to build the Overtime Elite, he not only adds to the legacy of the Wilkins family but also changes the lives of the players he signs.

The Overtime Elite will be drafted on Wednesday in which Wilkins will form three teams of 10 players each. Overtime Elite will release its schedule on Friday.

“I want it to continue to grow, and I want it to be a center for professional development,” Wilkins said. “And to be in front of him in this city, as a black man. Whoa, right?”

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