While much of the coverage of the Knicks’ 2022 NBA Draft will be focused on the dizzying array of trades they made to clear Kemba Walker’s salary and add future draft selections, they also made history on Thursday night making Jean Montero the first-ever selection from the Overtime Elite league.
Overtime Elite (OTE) was founded in March 2021 by Overtime co-founders Dan Porter and Zack Weiner. The stated purpose of the league was to give prospects who left high school a place to play competitive basketball while also earning a six-figure contract and being able to profit off of their name, likeness, and image (NIL).
It should be noted that the six-figure contract is earmarked so that the players can attend the university of their choice and not have to make an academic decision based on basketball. However, the players are also able to make money through branding deals and OTE said “each member of the top team at the end of the season will receive an additional $10,000.”
When the league was first announced, many viewed Overtime Elite as a disruptive force for the NCAA and a lot of big names invested money, including rapper Drake and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Former UCONN Men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie also announced that he would be the head coach, adding even more credibility to the league.
While the league’s future may be hurt by the NCAA’s decision to allow NIL deals, that won’t impact its current crop of players, like Jean Montero, who, in 2021, became the first international player to sign with Overtime Elite.
At the time, he was 17 years old and had been playing on the Dominican Republic’s national team since he was 13. Playing against much older competition fostered competitiveness in him and made him a strong playmaker since he was often setting up opportunities for his older teammates.
At 15 years old, Montero turned pro and played for Gran Canaria, a professional team in Spain, before signing with OTE.
In OTE, Montero was the leading scorer on his team, averaging 16.9 points per game while also chipping in 7.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. He had the highest usage rate on the team at 26.3% but did shoot just 27.5% from beyond the arc, so there remain questions about how consistent his jumpshot can be at the next level.
Some scouting services place the 6’2″ guard’s NBA comparison as Dennis Schroder since Montero is a quick and shifty guard who “should have success creating in the NBA.“
While he will start out on just an Exhibit 10 Contract, there’s no denying that Montero has the work ethic and desire to push for a spot on the Knicks roster. After all, this is a kid who built his own basketball court in his hometown of Villa Juana: “We found some wood, a bike that we took the wheels off of, took the cables inside the bike and some nails, then boom — we had our own court.”
When he first got his opportunity at OTE, Montero reflected that “this really wasn’t supposed to happen for me. This doesn’t happen for kids who are from where I’m from.” But he got here because he “kept fighting for [his] spot.”
He’ll have to do that once again, but if he performs well enough in the NBA Summer League, a spot in the G League and the potential to make an impact with the Knicks down the road remains in his grasp.