February 11, 2023 — Under the glimmering lights of State Farm Arena, Atlanta, Dominick Barlow fearlessly elevates over fourth-year forward De'Andre Hunter for an emphatic two-hand flush.
More than a year ago, just a few miles away, in midtown Atlanta, Barlow worked on this very move and dreamed this very dream, as one of a few dozen inaugural players of Overtime Elite.
Now, it’s his reality. This reality, however, hasn’t always been the obvious outcome for the New Jersey native.
A young, and a much skinnier, Barlow started his high school basketball career at St. Joseph's Preparatory School in Philadelphia. But after not receiving sufficient playing time, the freshman forward made an early decision to move back to his hometown, transferring to Dumont High School.
Suiting up for the Dumont Huskies, Barlow put his elite two-way production on full display in his second year on the team. As a junior, he logged an impressive 23.3 PPG and 12.6 RPG. But just as everything seemed to flow the way he wanted, an unexpected turn sunk his fast-sailing ship. The COVID-19 outbreak.
His best high school season, in which he averaged 27.6 PPG, 17 RPG, 3.1 APG and 2.6 BPG, was unexpectedly cut short to just eight games. The whole world stopped. With so much left to show and even more left to prove, Barlow was at a standstill, his big league aspirations slowly slipping away from him.
But even amidst a global pandemic and a state of national inactivity, Barlow kept on moving, leaping towards his ultimate goal: The NBA.
After a month long hiatus, Barlow joined the New York Rens to take part in Peach Jam, in which he would lead his team to the semifinals. His length, two-way versatility and pure athleticism won him the hearts of basketball aficionados all around the nation, helping him earn many more college offers — notably, from Kansas, Pitt and Syracuse.
The highly-recruited forward, however, would put off his highly-anticipated college commitment for a year. Instead, Barlow opted to take a post-graduate year at Bridgton Academy, a preparatory school in Maine, famous for its prestigious basketball program. But then came an offer that would change all of his plans: OTE.
“OTE was very interesting and had a lot of appeal just because they told me things that nobody’s ever told me before.” he said, per Jack Winter of ClutchPoints. “They told me we can get you to become an NBA player in a year if you put the work in, and you’re willing to have that blind trust in us.”
Before OTE had built its beautiful, eye-catching arena, before OTE sent a single player to the NBA, before OTE was what it is today, Barlow took a leap in the dark. And he landed among the youngest of stars.
Alongside the likes of Jean Montero and Jai Smith, Barlow joined Team Overtime. In his first season, the lanky forward averaged 21.2 points per 36 minutes and finished second in the league, averaging 27.1 PPG per 100 possessions. Proving once again the two-way threat he can be, he was poised for the NBA draft, awaiting his name being called up at Barclays Center, New York.
That never happened, though. After going undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft, Barlow was later picked up on a two-way contract by the San Antonio Spurs. He made his NBA debut on November 2nd, and worked his way to consistent minutes by February, 2023.
“Nothing got handed to me, and that’s what makes the journey that much better—knowing that I earned the right to be on it. Nobody can take that away from me.”
While everything about Barlow's journey has been unpredictable and distinctly new, there are two things that have remained constant: his work ethic and boundless potential.
Naturally gifted with a 6'10" (7'3" wingspan) and 5.9% body fat physique, the 19-year-old now NBA sophomore has the tools to be a juggernaut on both ends of the floor. Barlow moves with ease, attacks the rim with pace and finishes with great dexterity — as he demonstrated during his 21-point scoring outburst in the final game of the NBA season. The cherry on top — his relentless motor with which he practices, plays and learns.
Barlow’s story has been elegantly decorated by unexpected turns and unimaginable places. But as he ends his eventful journey to the NBA and starts his journey in the NBA, we flip onto the next page: a 6'10" blank slate, patiently waiting to be adorned.