2023 NBA Draft

French Forward Sarr Joins Overtime Elite

Overtime Elite has signed its first European player, French forward Alexandre Sarr, according to a team press release.

The 16-year-old Sarr played for the Real Madrid franchise last season and is ranked No. 9 by Eurospects.com for international prospects born in 2005. His older brother, Olivier, played at Wake Forest and Kentucky.

The Overtime Elite league serves as an alternative pathway for players to turn pro.

“Alexandre is a skilled and versatile athlete, a natural shot blocker, and a rebounder on both ends of the floor,” said Kevin Ollie, Overtime Elite’s head coach. “We look forward to experiencing rapid development every day once we can work with Alexandre in the gym.”

The 6’10” Sarr is the eighth player to join the new league. Point guard Jean Montero from the Dominican Republic was the first international player to sign with the league. Amen Thompson, Ausar Thompson, Matt Bewle, Ryan Bewley, Emmanuel Maldonado and Jai Smith have also made commitments.

Every player will earn a six-figure salary, with a guaranteed minimum salary of $100K, plus bonuses and shares of equity in Overtime.

And-Ones: Wembanyama, CBA, NBA Ball, Cotton

Potential 2023 No. 1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama is leaving his French team Nanterre, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. The 7’2” Wembanyama has been recruited by the G League’s Ignite team and Overtime Elite, along with many pro teams around the globe, but the 17-year-old’s destination remains a mystery.

We have more news from the basketball world:

  • The Chinese Basketball Association could start its season without foreign players, Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia relays. Part or all of the CBA season could be be played without foreigners, according to a Chinese journalist, as a cost-cutting measure.
  • The NBA and Wilson will unveil at the draft combine later this month the new ball that will be used next season in league games, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Wilson Sporting Goods Co. has entered a multi-year partnership with the NBA, which has used a Spalding ball for 37 seasons.
  • Former NBA player Bryce Cotton was chosen as the NBL Most Valuable Player for the third time, according to a press release from the Australian league.  Cotton averaged 23.5 PPG and 5.6 APG for the Perth Wildcats. Cotton played for Phoenix and Memphis during the 2015/16 season.

And-Ones: Brown, Bates, Afflalo, All-Underrated Team

The Milwaukee Common Council has approved a $750K settlement in a lawsuit brought by former Bucks player Sterling Brown over his 2018 arrest, according to an Associated Press report. Brown was taken to the ground and shocked with a Taser after he was approached by police over a parking violation.

As part of the settlement, Brown was given an apology from the city and Milwaukee police that “recognizes that the incident escalated in an unnecessary manner and despite Mr. Brown’s calm behavior.” It also requires the city to commit to changes in the police department’s standard operating procedures. Brown is currently playing for the Rockets.

We have more news and notes from around the basketball world:

  • High school star Emoni Bates decommitted from Michigan State and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeff Borzello take a look at where Bates might end up. Bates, who is currently attending a prep school created by his father, won’t be eligible for the draft until 2023. Numerous colleges have made offers to Bates after he decommitted but he still has another year to go before he pursue that route. He could take the G League route if he graduates this spring but would have to stay there for two years due to the NBA’s age limit.
  • Former NBA player Arron Afflalo was part of a group that tried to purchase the Timberwolves and Afflalo is continuing to seek other opportunities to become a part-owner of a franchise. The Athletic’s David Aldridge spoke with Afflalo about his conversations with the Timberwolves and other topics.
  • Rudy Gobert, Jrue Holiday and De’Anthony Melton top the list of players on John Hollinger’s All-Underrated Team. The Athletic columnist lists his top 10 in that category, plus another group of that made his Honorable Mention list.

Emoni Bates Decommits From Michigan State

Five-star prospect Emoni Bates, widely considered to be the top player in the Class of 2022, has announced that he has decommitted from Michigan State and re-opened his recruitment. Bates made the announcement in an Instagram post on Friday night.

“I would like to thank (head coach) Tom Izzo and the coaching staff at Michigan State but I have decided to reopen my recruitment,” Bates wrote. “I’m not sure what my future holds but I am keeping all of my options open, both college and pro.”

Bates, a 6’8″ forward, could attend another college, head overseas, or play in the NBA G League with the Ignite. Many industry and coaching sources believe he would be open to playing in the G League for a year, Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com reports.

The Ignite recently landed five-star prospect Michael Foster Jr. and top Chinese prospect Fanbo Zeng, with more young athletes expected to be added in the coming months. Projected high-lottery picks Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga were among those who played for the team this past season.

“Let’s just put it like this. Whatever options that are available to him, we will lay them out and present them to him, but the ultimate decision is his,” Bates’ father, Elgin, said of his son’s situation back in March, according to Adam Zagoria of Forbes.com.

“If the G League is something he wants to do, if he decides that’s what he wants to do, that’s perfectly fine. He can do the G League. If Michigan State is what he wants to do, that’s perfectly fine. If he wants to entertain going overseas, that’s perfectly fine. If he just wants to sit out and train for a year, it’s whatever he wants to do. It’s his decision.”

Bates, 17, currently projects to be the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA draft.

Top 2022 Recruit Emoni Bates Commits To Michigan State

High school wing Emoni Bates, a five-star recruit who is considered the top prospect in the 2022 class, announced today on ESPN’s SportsCenter that he has committed to Michigan State, writes Travis Branham of 247Sports.com.

Bates, a 6’8″ small forward who plays high school ball in Michigan, is still just 16 years old but is already considered one of the best NBA prospects in years — Branham suggests that Bates may be the most highly-regarded high school prospect since LeBron James.

Despite Bates’ commitment to Michigan State over Michigan, there’s no guarantee that he’ll eventually suit up for the Spartans. As Branham notes, the youngster has long been considered a good bet to go pro out of high school rather than spending a year in the NCAA.

It’s possible that by 2022, the NBA will have tweaked its rules to allow players to enter the draft right out of high school. Even if the league’s one-and-done rule is still in place in ’22, Bates could opt for the G League professional path. Top 2020 recruit Jalen Green is reportedly expected to earn over $1MM in salary, endorsements, and appearances in 2020/21 by going that route.