This week’s Overtime Elite Fall Combine brought out a lengthy list of major decision makers in the basketball world.
From coaches at blue blood schools to a plethora of NBA scouts, plenty of important basketball power players were on hand Tuesday at the OTE Arena in Atlanta’s Atlantic Station neighborhood.
For Kentucky men’s basketball fans, two players at the combine were of particular interest: UK commit center Somto Cyril and recruit small forward Karter Knox, both members of the 2024 recruiting class.
While Cyril and Knox are both planning to play college basketball before pursuing a pro career, Tuesday’s event in front of a large crowd of both college and NBA evaluators represented a significant moment in their budding basketball careers.
Additionally, it was a chance for Kentucky associate coach Orlando Antigua to check in with Cyril, UK’s lone class of 2024 commit, and continue the recruitment of Knox, who has included UK in his final list of eight schools and professional pathways.
The Herald-Leader was in attendance for Tuesday’s event, which featured individual, small group and full-court 5-on-5 basketball activities.
Here’s what stood out on the court from Cyril, Knox and another young Overtime Elite star with whom Kentucky has had conversations.
In late July, Cyril spoke to the Herald-Leader about his desire to grow as an offensive player.
On Tuesday, it was clear to see the strides he’s taken.
Cyril is a physically imposing player: He was measured Monday at the Overtime Elite Fall Combine as being 6 feet, 10 inches tall, and with a 7-foot-7-inch wingspan.
And while this, obviously, leads to successful work in the post and around the rim, it’s clear Cyril’s offensive polish has come from having more ball-handling opportunities.
Cyril was often initiating the offense during three-on-three games at the combine, and frequently had the ball in his hands at the top of the key, even in some five-on-five settings.
It’s clear OTE has given Cyril the leeway to become not just an offensive factor, but an offensive decision maker.
How well this will translate to high-major college basketball at Kentucky remains to be seen, but these reps will serve to continue Cyril’s growth as a holistic basketball player.
Something also of note from this week’s activities in Atlanta was Cyril’s strong vocal presence, on and off the court.
He was a constant communicator on the floor and a steady presence supporting teammates when on the bench.
While some of Cyril’s basketball instincts still need sharpening, there’s also a lot — at least at this level — that his sheer size and strength can make up for.
An example of this is when Cyril is anchored near the rim as a defender: Plenty of times an opposing team won’t even attempt to finish against him, and other times that shot attempt ends up as a block on Cyril’s stat sheet.
In an interview with the Herald-Leader this summer following his son’s move to Overtime Elite from Tampa (Fla.) Catholic High School, Kevin Knox Sr. said OTE would be a way for Karter to get a taste of what college and pro basketball will be like.
Karter himself has taken a diligent approach to making the most of the 24-7 basketball environment fostered at Overtime Elite.
Improvements in Knox’s playmaking ability were evident Tuesday: In addition to showing off his three-level scoring ability, Knox made it a point to drive into the lane on several occasions and facilitate the ball out to open teammates on the perimeter.
The 6-foot-6 Knox has the ideal size to be a playmaker in modern basketball, and his offensive shot diet is reflective of what you’d want from a player in his position.
He’s always willing to take a 3-point shot when it’s presented to him, and he has a quick release on said shot.
Additionally, Knox showed off offensive elements ranging from floaters to off-ball movement.
A subplot to the upcoming Overtime Elite season will be Cyril’s efforts to try and recruit Knox to Lexington, something Knox told the Herald-Leader is already happening.
Another point in this column came Tuesday, as Cyril and Knox were paired together for five-on-five, full-court sessions in front of college coaches and NBA scouts.
Another player at Overtime Elite who has had some recruiting conversations with Kentucky is Bryson Tiller, a standout power forward in the 2025 class.
No UK scholarship offer has arrived yet for the nearly 6-foot-9 Tiller, but it’s clear to see why the likes of Alabama, Kansas, North Carolina and plenty of other high-majors have already extended one to him.
Tiller is one of the most athletic, purely strong players at Overtime Elite, and looks the part of the five-star recruit he is.
This was evident in a three-on-three game Tuesday, when Tiller moved Cyril completely off his mark while fighting through a screen set by the future Wildcat.