High school phenom Ausar Thompson demonstrated in the Overtime Elite Championship thriller precisely why he is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
The teen basketball prodigy was a veritable floor general on Sunday, putting his multifaceted offensive arsenal on display before a raucous, standing-room-only crowd at Atlantic Station in Atlanta. He spearheaded a comeback for his Team Elite squad that squeaked past OTE to capture the inaugural championship of the teen professional basketball league, 52-45. Team Elite won the best-of-three series over OTE 2-games-to-1.
One sequence crystallized the down-to-the-wire nailbiter. With Team Elite down 18-9 and on the verge of being blown out of the building — which happened in Game 1 of the series — Thompson helped orchestrate the dramatic comeback. He was matched against his twin brother, Amen Thompson, who also possesses the skills and intangibles that make pro scouts salivate. As OTE’s Amen Thompson advanced the ball up the floor, his brother Ausar Thompson stole the ball, then torpedoed down the left baseline and swooped in for an authoritative slam dunk. The momentum-shifting play helped Team Elite get back into contention.
As a reward for his aerial and shooting exploits, Ausar Thompson was voted the championship game MVP after finishing with 20 points, 12 rebounds and four steals. Long-distance sniper Emmanuel Maldanado from Orlando, Florida, also authored the comeback as he deposited three 3-pointers for nine points. Houston native Bryce Griggs chipped in eight points.
John Walker from San Juan, Puerto Rico, led Team Elite with 17 points while Amen Thompson of Oakland added 13.
Ausar Thompson was euphoric after the game because of the way his Team Elite squad rebounded strongly after being dragged by OTE in Game 1 of the championship series, 72-51.
“It felt good because we went through adversity,” said Thompson, who was wearing the sparkling gold necklace around his neck as a reward for his MVP performance. “We went through so much adversity throughout the year. Everybody thought we were going to lose, so it felt good to win.”
Team Elite also pocketed $10,000 apiece for winning the Overtime Elite league title.
Team Elite head coach Dave Leitao expressed profound gratitude for the new experience and for being victorious in the first-ever teen professional basketball league.
“It’s great that they trusted me on the court, especially off the court, to kind of guide them and teach him, you know, give him some life lessons and obviously get better in basketball,” the coach said.
“The beautiful thing is, they may not realize it yet, is that they’re going to remember this inaugural championship for the rest of their lives,” Leitao added.