KJ Lewis Turning Down $500K Pro Contract is the Right Move for the Long Run
As the offers, accolades and other forms of recognition come to Chapin standout basketball player KJ Lewis, the high school junior had to make a tough decision last week with a huge opportunity that came his way.
Lewis, who is ranked the No. 2 basketball prospect in Texas and No. 25 overall in the country according to 247 Sports, turned down a two-year, $500,000 professional contract from Overtime Elite. If he would have accepted the offer, Lewis would have lost all high school and future college eligibility. KTSM's Colin Deaver was the first to report the story on the El Paso guard.
It must have been an extremely tempting offer for the star-in-the-making, but Lewis ultimately made the best decision. Can you imagine a 17-year-old having to make a life-altering decision like this?
On one hand, if he had taken the offer, Lewis could have worked in an NBA-like environment through the inaugural year of Overtime Elite. Based in Atlanta, the league is aiming to sign highly regarded high school basketball juniors and sophomores. Each player is guaranteed a minimum $100,000 contract, but there have been players that have even reached $1 million in deals. There will be at minimum 24 players that OTE will sign and split into three teams, where they will be competing against each other and competing against academies, prep schools and International teams abroad.
As enticing as it may sound, the path from high school to college might be even more beneficial to Lewis.
As a standout recruit with 14 Division I offers—UCLA being the most recent to offer him—Lewis could capitalize on a Power-5 program and NIL deals in college. The class of 2023 guard could even choose to reclassify after this year and could end up deciding to go to enroll in college early, as we have been seeing across prep standouts. The program that ends up getting Lewis in the recruiting battle could line up NIL deals that surpass the $500,000 he was offered through OTE.
Let him experience high school like a normal kid. Give him an opportunity to receive all the accolades he can, while also trying to win a state title. Watch him make his decision for college and see where his career can go. Lewis is on an NBA-level trajectory. He is already one of the most sought-after El Paso high school prospects in this city's history.
Ultimately, he made the best decision in the long run for his young career. Now we await the start of the high school basketball season when we can see Lewis play again in the Sun City.