Ohio Wesleyan University’s Malik Leisinger ’19 is one of 102 gamers drafted for the NBA 2K’s inaugural season of video game competition. The NBA 2K season will run for 17 weeks beginning May 1, concluding with the first league finals.

Mr. NBA 2K

Ohio Wesleyan Student Drafted by Utah Jazz Gaming Esports Team

By Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan University’s Malik Leisinger ’19 is temporarily trading his Battling Bishop jersey for an NBA 2K League uniform.

Leisinger – a business administration major, accounting minor, and men’s basketball player from Lakewood, Ohio – is one of 102 gamers drafted April 4 for the NBA 2K’s inaugural season of video game competition. Nationwide, nearly 72,000 people tried out for a spot on one of the 17 league teams.

“As far as the experience goes, so far it has been great!” said Leisinger, who was drafted in the second round by Utah Jazz Gaming. “I have never been to Utah, so shifting from living in Cleveland my whole life to Salt Lake City was different at first, but I am getting used to it. One of the main things I enjoy is being surrounded by the beautiful mountains at all times.”

And while the experience definitely involves fun and games, it is much more, he said.

“I have been able to meet everyone in the Utah Jazz organization from Owner Gail Miller, to President Steve Starks,” said Leisinger, who was drafted after successfully completing both a gaming skills test and one-on-one interview. “Meeting and socializing with these people of power is really intriguing for me because it mixes my passion for the game of basketball and (my career interest in) business and marketing.

“I am thrown into the aspects of marketing and promoting the Jazz Gaming, and, more importantly, building my individual brand,” Leisinger said. “After this experience, I will have a lot of hands-on experience in the business and marketing areas, and I hope to land a job with one of the many NBA teams that have an esports team.

“This is a growing industry,” he said, “and, after a successful season, I envision the league growing from 17 NBA teams this year to 25 teams next year and, after that, all 30 teams will be involved.”

Analysts also predict a strong future for such e-sports, with Newzoo, an Amsterdam-based a market research firm, estimating the industry will grow to $1.4 billion by 2020. Leisinger and his fellow NBA 2K draftees will earn between $32,000 to $35,000 for their contributions to the sport, as well as housing and health insurance.

This year’s NBA 2K season will run for 17 weeks beginning May 1. It will begin with a five-day tip-off tournament and include weekly matchups and tournaments that conclude with the first NBA 2K League finals.

On the Jazz roster, Leisinger is known as MrSlaughter01, and he has been described by reporters as “a slashing rebounder.” Follow his adventure on Twitter @MrSlaughter01.

Congratulations and good luck, Malik. OWU is rooting for you!