WPIAL basketball standout Meleek Thomas leaving Lincoln Park for Overtime Elite pro league

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Tuesday, June 11, 2024 | 1:36 PM


WPIAL basketball standout Meleek Thomas is leaving Lincoln Park to join Overtime Elite, a professional league and academy for 16- to 20-year-olds based in Atlanta.

Thomas, a rising senior, is considered a top 10 college recruit in the 2025 class. The 6-foot-4 guard won consecutive WPIAL and PIAA titles at Lincoln Park while collecting a lengthy list of individual awards. He was a two-time TribLive HSSN Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

“I did everything I needed to do where I’m from,” Thomas told ESPN.com on Tuesday. “We won back-to-back state championships. Now it’s time to be seen by NBA personnel, GMs, scouts, the people that you need to be in front of. At OTE, they get your name out. Everything they do goes around the world. I want to be broadcasted more.”

Lincoln Park coach Mike Bariski said he wasn’t surprised by the move, adding that it was rumored for weeks.

“His goals have been completed here,” Bariski told TribLive. “I’m not saying it was time for him to go, but it was a good move for him. It’s probably financially beneficial to him, and he’s going to play with the best in the country.”

Thomas in April agreed to an NIL deal with rapper Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports.

Overtime Elite is an eight-team league founded in 2021. Players reportedly can accept a salary of at least $100,000 or participate in a scholarship program that lets them retain college eligibility. An academy for high school students to complete their classwork also is included.

Overtime Elite sent twins Amen and Ausar Thompson directly to the NBA as top five picks in the 2023 draft. However, Bariski said he believed Thomas still was planning to attend college and was scheduling visits to Arkansas, UConn and Indiana.

Thomas has a long list of scholarship offers that also includes Pitt, Auburn, Duke, Kansas and others.

“Every school in the country was probably trying to get him,” Bariski said. “I was fortunate to coach him for the three years.”

Thomas averaged a double-double as a junior last winter with 23.5 points and 10.8 rebounds while adding 5.8 assists and 3.3 steals per game. Lincoln Park went 28-3, winning WPIAL and PIAA Class 4A titles.

He was a 20-point scorer this spring in AAU tournaments for New Heights Lightning in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League. ESPN.com ranked Thomas as the seventh-best prospect nationally in his graduating class.

“Being a pro constantly is something I want to do,” Thomas told ESPN. “Getting in the weight room and going against top players daily with a fast-paced style of play will help me develop a winning mentality against the best. Everything I’m doing now will be turned up times 10. No one in the world will stop me.”

Thomas joins fellow five-star seniors Bryson Tiller of Atlanta, Mikel Brown of Orlando, Fla., and Akai Fleming of Marietta, Ga., at Overtime Elite. Tiller is ranked sixth nationally by ESPN, Brown is 19th and Fleming is 23rd.

The Overtime Elite schedule runs from October to March.

“If I’m able to, I’ll fly down there and watch his first game,” Bariski said. “I’m extremely happy for him.”

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.

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