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Naas Cunningham Q&A

Credit: Overtime Elite

Overtime Elite (OTE) is in its second year and features a roster of 20 returning athletes and 10 new players. This season, OTE is composed of a rebrand of three new teams in the City Reapers, Cold Hearts, and YNG Dreamerz in addition to the inclusion of Hillcrest Prep Bruins, Our Savior Lutheran Falcons, and Word of God Holy Rams. Besides basketball development, the league has distinguished itself by developing a platform for its athletes to receive training in education, economic empowerment, life skills instruction, and personal branding. Based in Atlanta, OTE houses a state-of-the-art facility and boosts an experienced front office and coaching staff to help some of the world’s top prospects build successful careers on-and-off the court. 


A five-star recruit in the high school class of 2024, Naasir Cunningham became the first player in league history to sign with OTE under the scholarship option last spring, which allowed him to maintain his college eligibility while profiting off of his name, image, and likeness. As a sophomore at Gill St. Bernard’s (NJ) in 2021-22, Cunningham averaged 13.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1 block per game. Standing at 6’7”, the New Jersey native possesses significant upside as a shot creator and scorer with length, positional size, and fluidity. Drafted to play on YNG Dreamerz for this season, Cunningham joins the likes of Stanford commit Kanaan Carlyle, ‘23 draft eligible Jazian Gortman, and ‘24 draft eligible Bryson Warren among many others, with the goal to be crowned Season 2’s OTE Champions.


As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Cunningham highlighted his multi-sport background, his decision to join OTE on the scholarship option and growth off-the-court, his interest in camera work and fishing, and much more.


For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present Overtime Elite’s Naasir Cunningham, from West Orange, New Jersey:

Pro Insight: How did you get to where you are today? Talk a bit about your background and family.

Naasir Cunningham: I was raised in West Orange, New Jersey. Started playing basketball, organized basketball like in second grade. My dad let me test out all the sports, really see what I was into, and basketball really stuck with me and he's just been there helping me every step of the way since I've been playing, so yeah. 

PI: Any other athletes in the family?

NC: Nothing crazy, not like professionals, but my dad used to play football in high school. My sisters played basketball growing up. I mean, we were all athletic, so it ran through the family. 

PI: What other sports did you play growing up?

NC: I was good at baseball and soccer, but if I had to pick one, I'd probably pick soccer. 

PI: Has anything you learned in soccer translated into basketball?

NC: At that young of age, I wasn't really paying attention to that type of stuff, but I feel like practicing soccer skills with my coaches and my father kind of did make it easier to pick up for basketball 'cause they both involve a lot of footwork. 

PI: When did you primarily start to focus on basketball? 

NC: I wanna say third grade. That's when I started traveling for AAU and I think my parents and coaches really realized like he has some potential in him. 

PI: For those who aren’t familiar with your game, what are your greatest strengths and playstyle?

NC: I would say I'm a big guard. I'm able to move quickly. I’m fast on my feet. I have a great jump shot for somebody my size. I'm working on my ball handling, transitioning, passing the ball, getting my teammates involved, becoming more of a real guard instead of just a scorer, so yeah. 

PI: Who do you model your game after or study on film?

NC: I like to watch players like Jayson Tatum, Paul George, and Kevin Durant. Those are most of the people my trainer has me watch film on. 

PI: Do you have a specific training regimen? 

NC: Normally when I'm on the court, it's a lot of shooting, making sure my handles are tight — that's something I'm working on improving. And really just game situation reps like every rep I do gotta be game speed, otherwise it's not gonna translate. And then outside of that, I'm lifting everyday with my strength coach here [at OTE], trying to get stronger, put on more muscle mass, just trying to improve myself. 

PI: Do you have a specific weight goal you want to achieve?

NC: By the end of the year, I want to be at least 195 [pounds], around that weight. 

PI: We enjoyed watching you in New Orleans and Colorado Springs with USA Basketball — what was the biggest takeaway from your USAB experience this year?

NC: Really just always being around high level players and it really prepares you for the next level, 'cause at the next level you're not always gonna be the star player, so you gotta learn how to play without the ball or play with other good players. 

PI: Who was the toughest individual matchup or guys that stood out to you?

NC: I mean, everybody out there was really great. I mean, there was no like one player that stood out to me. I feel like we all were competing at a high level and it was a great experience. 

PI: Congratulations on being the first player in league history to sign OTE’s scholarship option. What were the deciding factors when making this choice?

NC: Really just the resources they have here. The facilities are amazing, the equipment here…and then on top of that, I'm still getting a regular education like I would at any other high school. So I mean it was really everything that I could wish for all in one so and then on top of that, being able to keep my eligibility, still being able to go to college. So I mean, there were a lot of factors that really helped my family and I make this d