On Aug. 4, we posed a question that many in the local high school basketball community had been asking since the former Mt. St. Joe’s prodigy abruptly left national powerhouse IMG Academy in December of 2022: “What’s next for Bryson Tucker?”
The 6-foot-7 combo guard/small forward was a wunderkind at the Baltimore Catholic school on Frederick Avenue, where he led the team to a 32-7 record, along with titles in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference and Baltimore Catholic League, while averaging 22.3 points and 5.2 rebounds as a mere sophomore.
“Bryson is one of the most skilled, versatile young players that I have ever seen,” Pat Clatchey, his former head coach at Mount St. Joe’s, recently told The Baltimore Banner. “He’s got the footwork, the skills, the fundamentals, the ability to make a variety of shots. He has a great feel for the game and is very cerebral. He’s one of those guys that can see things one step ahead of everyone else and has a great blend of versatility. He’s a big-time talent.”
But his father, Byron, pulled him off the team prior to the Gaels’ final game of the season after getting into a verbal altercation with one of his son’s teammates. At the end of the school year, word leaked out that he’d be transferring to play at IMG, the sports academy and boarding school in Bradenton, Florida.
But last season, Bryson left IMG under mysterious circumstances and was no longer on the roster when the team arrived in Springfield, Massachusetts to play in the prestigious Hoophall Classic.
The question of what Bryson Tucker’s next move would be was answered on Monday when word began to spread that he’ll be spending his senior season playing for Bishop O’Connell in Northern Virginia.
O’Connell competes in the ultra-competitive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, alongside schools with long established national profiles such as DeMatha Catholic.
Considered by many to be one of the best prep basketball conferences in the country, recent WCAC alumni include NBA players Victor Oladipo, Markelle Fultz, Jordan Hawkins and current NCAA standouts Hunter Dickinson at Kansas (where he recently transferred after three stellar seasons at Michigan) and Duke point guard Jeremy Roach.
As of a few days ago, very few knew where Tucker would wind up. Rumors had him reclassifying to play at Michigan State this coming season, or leaving high school altogether to play in the NBA G-League. Others were certain that he’d wind up at WCAC school or at Massanutten Military Academy.
The truth was that, with the speculation running rampant, very few knew what his next move would be, save for Bryson, his immediate family and the coaches he’d been talking to.
It wasn’t shocking that he wound up at O’Connell, and interested local observers are now giddy that they’ll be able to see him in action at some point during his senior season.
But the move that raised eyebrows among local hoops observers involved another player who suited up for the Knights last year, Adam Oumiddoch. It was announced that the rising sophomore was leaving the school to suit up for Overtime Elite, the professional league for 16- to 20-year-olds that is based in Atlanta.
“Adam breathes, drinks and eats basketball,” said his good friend and Team Melo running mate Malik Washington, who is considered to be among the best two-sport athletes in the country. “I know that it wasn’t an easy decision for him, but he’s committed to being the best player he can possibly be, and spending the next three years with Overtime Elite is going to help him get there. I’m super excited for him. It’s a rare opportunity and I know he’s going to take full advantage of it.”
Overtime Elite’s national profile soared after this year’s NBA Draft, when two program alums — twins Amen and Ausar Thompson — were selected by the Houston Rockets and the Detroit Pistons with the fourth and fifth overall picks. The brothers were a part of OTE’s inaugural class when the organization launched in 2021.
After Oumiddoch’s impressive showing at the Nike Peach Jam this summer with Team Melo, where he was widely considered to be among the best players in his class, his family was approached and asked if they’d consider joining the program.
OTE, now entering its third year, offers players a minimum salary of $100,000 annually, a signing bonus and shares in the company’s larger business.
The league doesn’t release contract specifics on individual athletes, but Oumiddoch’s offer was believed to be in the range of $300,000 annually for the next three years.
But he chose to take a scholarship option instead of being salaried, which means that he maintains his college eligibility. Naasir Cunningham, one of the top-ranked prospects in ESPN’s Class of 2024, was the first Overtime Elite player to forgo a salary, which preserves his college basketball eligibility once he graduates.
Oumiddoch will still have opportunities to secure various revenue streams as he’s free to capitalize on his name, image and likeness, an area where major corporate entities are now looking to partner up with stars in the youth basketball market.
“After his strong performances in the spring and the summer, we were asked if we’d be interested in pursuing the Overtime Elite route,” said Adam’s father, Mahdi Oumiddoch. “We were initially skeptical, because he’s so young, but his dream is to compete at the highest possible level to prepare him for when he eventually plays college basketball. We visited the campus and were very impressed with the skill-development coaching staff. He’ll be getting prepared, both academically and athletically, and the facilities are amazing. They’ve got all the bases covered in terms of a top-notch education, nutrition, strength training, conditioning and coaching.”
“We loved Bishop O’Connell and Adam had an awesome experience with his teammates and Coach Joe Wooten,” Mahdi continued. “It was an extremely difficult decision for him to leave there, to leave home. Once we looked at the whole picture, Adam decided that it was a move that he was interested in. It’s going to be tough when he leaves for Atlanta on Friday, but this is his dream and we’re always going to do whatever we can to support him.”