Updated: Jun 11
In March 2021, Overtime, a cutting edge sports media company, announced the creation of Overtime Elite (OTE), “a transformative new sports league,” providing an alternative pathway for high school athletes to become professional players. Backed by Overtime’s investors that include Andreessen Horowitz, Sapphire Sport, Spark Capital, Greycroft Ventures, Jeff Bezos, Drake, NBA stars such as Trae Young, Devin Booker, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant, and several others, OTE launched a league that features 27 members who play internal and external competition as well as receive a guaranteed minimum salary of at least six figures annually. Besides basketball development, the inaugural 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.
The 8th ranked prospect in ESPN’s 2023 high school class before turning pro, Tyler Smith signed a two-year deal with Overtime Elite over high major offers from Kansas, Baylor, Texas, Florida State, Oklahoma, Memphis, LSU and others last August. Standing at a towering 6’10”, Smith was the 16th prospect to join OTE. As a sophomore at Fort Bend Bush High School (TX), he averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 82% from the free throw line. Playing on Tim Fanning’s Team OTE, the versatile lefty forward possesses an intriguing frame with plus-length and showcased his perimeter and post skills throughout the 2021-22 campaign.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Smith discussed the growth spurt that shifted his focus from football to basketball, his goal to add 15 pounds of muscle this summer, using his size and skillset to be a mismatch on the floor, giving back to his community, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present Overtime Elite’s Tyler Smith, from Houston, Texas:
Pro Insight: How did you get to where you are today? Talk a bit about your background and family.
Tyler Smith: I got to where I am today because of my mom and my brother. My mom used to drive me everywhere and my little brother just pushed me, telling me to keep going, and now he comin’ up also, so he’s good.
PI: Describe your relationship with your brother? Would you say you guys hoop together a lot? Would you say you’re more of a mentor?
TS: Yeah, it's really both. He comes to OTE. He comes to work out with me. Just started working him out 'cause he's trying to be here one day, or in the NBA, so we're just trying to help him get there as he’s trying to help me.
PI: Any other athletes in the family besides your brother?
TS: Nah, just me and my brother. For real.
PI: When did you primarily start to focus on basketball?
TS: In 8th grade, I was playing football. I really liked football more than basketball, but then I grew even taller to like 6’6” so I was like “nah, this is not for me no more,” so I just started playing basketball more.
PI: Did you play any other sports growing up besides football?
TS: When I was younger, I used to play baseball. That's really it…and I ran track.
PI: For those who aren’t familiar with your game, what are your greatest strengths and play style?
TS: My greatest strength is I can shoot the ball well. Handling it for my size is pretty good and my play style is I can space the floor, take that open three or blow by my defender. So pretty versatile.
PI: Who do you model your game after or study on film?
TS: I like to watch Jayson Tatum. I watch a little bit of Kevin Durant.
PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most? What have you been working on?
TS: Right now, I'm working on my strength in the weight room, getting bigger and stronger, so when I go to the basket I could finish easier over defenders, 'cause I'm 6’10” so I need to get in the paint, sometimes.
PI: Do you have a specific weight goal you want to achieve?
TS: Yeah, I'm trying to gain 15 pounds by the end of the summer. It would be pretty good for me.
PI: Do you have a training regimen?
TS: Yeah, so first go to the weight room and then after the weight room just do some form shooting. Then do some ball handling drills, then shoot and play one-on-one, as well.
PI: What type of leader are you?
TS: Being a leader is something I'm really working at. Being one of the youngest here, it's really helped me 'cause I'm the youngest and then trying to have a voice is something I need to work on.
PI: Congrats on the inaugural season. Reflecting on your first year with OTE, what was the highlight and lowlight?
TS: The lowlight was when I got injured before the first game. I couldn't play like the first four games so that really kind of set me back a little bit, but the second half of the season after all the spring break stuff, that's when I came out of my shell a little bit and showed people what I could really do.
PI: How has OTE helped you grow off the court?
TS: They helped me mature more, living on your own here just gives you more responsibility. You have to wake up on your own. No parents are there to wake you up. So yeah, just time management has really helped me.
PI: Obviously OTE is filled with resources, facilities, and coaches — what do you think has been beneficial to your growth as a person?
TS: As a person, just people here to talk to you. They help you. If something is wrong, if you’re going through something, they're just here to talk to them.
PI: Who has been the toughest individual matchup you’ve ever faced?
PI: What are your short term goals you have for yourself as a player?
TS: Short term goals are to be top-ten in my draft board by next year when that comes out and become a top-five pick in two years, so it's one of my goals.
PI: Walk us through a day-in-the-life of Tyler Smith.
TS: Yeah, so every day I wake up at 8 A.M. Head to the gym at like 8:45. Go to school for like four hours. Then after school we eat lunch. Then after lunch, take a little break for like 30 minutes and then that's when we go to the weight room and then we're on the court so that's pretty much every day.
PI: Do you have a go-to pre-game meal?
TS: Not really, but I’ll be eating pasta, some rice, stuff like that… whatever they make for the pre-game meals that day.
PI: How do you see your role at the next level?
TS: I see my role as a player that can space the floor and put it on the ground a little bit. I feel like I could post up and shoot threes, 'cause in the NBA you shoot a lot of threes now so that's what they need and I could hit the open spot-up in the corner so I feel like I could really be used on any NBA team.
PI: What are your biggest interests outside of basketball?
TS: Biggest interest outside of basketball is I just like watching TV, watching NBA games and stuff like that. Yeah, watching football.
PI: What was your favorite NBA team growing up?
TS: Oh, Lakers! Everybody in my family loved the Lakers and watching Kobe play.
PI: Who are your favorite music artists?
TS: My favorite music artists are NBA YoungBoy, Lil Durk, and Lil Baby.
PI: If you were stuck forever on a deserted island and had all the food, water, and shelter you needed — what three personal items would you bring?
TS: I’ll bring a knife, some fire starter, and my brother.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
TS: #TSmith. I don’t know (laughs).
PI: What was your first purchase when you received your first professional paycheck?
TS: My first purchase was my car. I got a 2021 Dodge Charger.
PI: If you weren’t pursuing a career as a professional hooper, what do you think you would choose to do?
TS: I don't really know, to be honest. I never really thought about it. I've just started getting better at basketball. I never really thought about that, just trying to get to my main goal — reach the pros.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
TS: “Just never give up and you're good already. Just keep going 'cause you could get way better than what you already are,” and that's from my old coach Marcus Sloan.
PI: Who’s someone you really look up to?
TS: I don't know him, but Kevin Durant, just the way he carries himself.
He's just a pro on and off the court so that's really who I look up to.
PI: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
TS: I don't really have any pet peeve. Nothing really bothers me like that.
PI: Are you an introvert or extrovert?
TS: Kind of both. If I know you, then I'm gonna be loose, but if I don't, I'm gonna be more introverted a little bit — so, yeah.
PI: How have you handled and responded to adversity in your life?
TS: I responded to it like “I'm glad it happened now than later” so I already know what's gonna happen or how it feels so I feel like that prepared me for later.
PI: How would you define the word ‘success?’
TS: Success means I’m doing better, getting good and I'm progressing in what I'm doing.
PI: Besides the NBA, where do you see yourself in five years?
TS: Besides the NBA, I see myself as a community guy giving back to where I'm from.
PI: You’re from the Houston, Texas area — how would you describe the basketball culture in Texas?
TS: Yeah, to me I feel like Texas is the best state to play in. Firstly, because we had like six McDonald's All-Americans this year. We will have like another four next year, so I feel like Texas is the best place to play every time you play somebody. Even if they're unknown, they're already good, so I feel like Texas, it's pretty competitive to play in.
PI: Who were the guys you played or trained with growing up?
TS: Oh, there's a lot of people that I played with, but Chris Johnson, Jacolb Cole [are] some of them, been playing with them since I was in like 4th grade when I started, so yeah.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
TS: Humble. Goofy. Yeah, really two, that's it.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
TS: At the end of the day, I want to be remembered as a very very good basketball player and a very good person when I'm done so I can have connections and stuff like that.