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City of Palms: Milton’s LT Overton, No. 2 defensive tackle in country, tackles hardwood too

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Watch: Milton’s LT Overton not just top football recruit

Milton (Ga.) junior LT Overton, a 6-foot-3, 264-pound defensive tackle who is the No. 2 recruit in the country, brings a lot to the basketball court.

Greg Hardwig, Fort Myers News-Press

LT Overton gets another year of playing football before he signs to play in college.

But the nation’s No. 2 defensive tackle has been following the ever-spinning coaching carousel that then led to some of the top players in the country flipping their college choices when the signing period started Wednesday.

“It’s been crazy,” Overton said at basketball practice Friday afternoon before Milton opened its Culligan City of Palms Basketball Classic schedule later that night. “I really haven’t made any decisions right now but obviously I’m looking into those changes and stuff, just seeing where those guys are going, make my decisions off of that.”

By the way: Who are the top uncommitted players to watch at the 48th Annual City of Palms Classic?

More: City of Palms Day 1: Orlando Christian, Calvary Christian move on

And: City of Palms Classic: Meet the teams playing in the 48th annual basketball tournament

The 6-foot-3, 246-pound Overton has 26 Power 5 scholarship offers, and Rivals has Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M as high interest. 

Overton said he won’t make any decisions until at least after February, when he gets a chance to make official visits, and then he’ll only narrow down his list just after that. 

“It’s really all about communication,” Overton said.

Overton said that goes for coaches at the schools, but also his future possible teammates.

“I’m going there for the next four years of my life,” he said.

A week ago, Overton was suiting up in his football uniform and playing for a state title. The Eagles lost to Collins Hill, 24-8, and Overton had six combined tackles, 3½ tackles for loss, a half sack and a quarterback hurry. A few days later, Overton saw one of Collins Hill’s stars in that game, top-rated defensive back Travis Hunter, shock the recruiting world by switching from Florida State to Deion Sanders-coached Jackson State.

Friday night, Overton was in his basketball uniform for the first time this season for the defending Georgia 7A state champions at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers.

The uniforms may be different, but the mindset isn’t for the five-star defensive tackle.

“He’s just a competitor,” Milton basketball coach Allen Whitehart said before practice. “He’s a high-level athlete. That’s never been doubted. Just his presence, and just his demeanor within our team, he just wants to win. It doesn’t matter what it costs, he just wants to win.”

Overton had 8 points, 7 rebounds plus an assist and a block in Milton’s 65-42 victory over Charlotte 

“L.T. coming back tonight I thought was a huge advantage for us, how much space he takes up in there and how controlled he is, as big as he is, how controlled he is,” Whitehart said following the game. “With him coming back this week after football, I think it’s an adjustment period for us as we get our flow and our rhythm as we move forward.”

Milton’s season affected by shock of player arrests

One of Milton’s two losses was avenging last season’s 7A state championship defeat. Berkmar, which also is playing in the City of Palms, beat the Eagles, 73-62, last Saturday. The two losses equal last season’s, not counting a third to IMG Academy in the GEICO Nationals in Fort Myers weeks after the state championship.

“You never want to lose,” Whitehart said. “We hope to learn from the losses. It was early in the year for us. We want to get better every day, and I think this is a great opportunity for us to get better. If we can continue to get better daily as we’re down here, and then moving into the season for us, it’s all about March.”

But there’s a bit more to the season so far. 

On Nov. 18, right after Milton’s season opener, Eagles basketball players Cameron Walker and Jonathan Murray were arrested on suspicion of robbery and murder. Walker had signed with George Mason, but the school dropped Walker’s scholarship following the arrest.

“There’s no coaching manual for that,” Whitehart said. “We’ve struggled emotionally with it, but we’re trying to just love the kids and move forward.” 

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Overton and football players aid that

Whitehart backloaded the schedule with the knowledge that Overton and two of his teammates would likely be playing football past the start of the basketball season.

“It’s part of the winning culture,” Whitehart said. “They’ve won on that side of the ball, so now they bring that winning into this side of athletics as well, into basketball.”

There’s plenty for Whitehart to move forward with.

Senior guard Bruce Thornton already has signed with Ohio State, and junior guard Kanaan Carlyle is another D-I recruit.

And then there’s what Overton brings.

“Clearly he’s a dominant football player, but I think he continues to love playing basketball,” Whitehart said. “He just blends in. He just wants to win, wants to play at a high level. To him, there’s no ego to it. Even if you watched him play football, there’s no ego about that either. He just does whatever’s needed. He just wants to win.”

That 6-3, 246-pound frame helps with all of that.

“Just being all around physical strength on the football field carries over to basketball, makes me more dominant in the paint and harder to guard,” Overton said.

Whitehart and the Eagles are using the City of Palms and the following Beach Ball in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to get the football players back in basketball shape and put the arrests further behind, and move forward.

“I think it’s part of the process, the progression as you move toward potentially a state tournament run,” Whitehart said of playing in these big-time tournaments. “I think these kind of setups really get the competitive juices flowing and let you see where you settle in, where you are at the national level. It also gives you a great gauge for where you are to go back to your state level.”

Reporter Dustin Levy contributed to this article.

Greg Hardwig is a sports reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @NDN_Ghardwig, email him at [email protected] Support local journalism with this special subscription offer at https://cm.naplesnews.com/specialoffer/

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