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Dink Pate, a five-star recruit in the 2024 high school class, has signed with the NBA’s G League Ignite program, he told ESPN.

“The whole idea of why I started playing basketball was to be a pro,” Pate said. “G League Ignite brings me one step closer to my dream. It’s all about the development of my game. I want to thank Coach Jason Hart and G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim for choosing me. I’m going to keep working to the best of my ability to prove that I can play in the NBA.”

Pate, a native of Dallas, Texas, becomes the youngest known professional basketball player in US history, being five weeks younger than projected No. 2 pick in the 2023 draft Scoot Henderson, who did the same in 2021.

Pate finished all coursework for both his junior and senior years and graduated high school a year early, allowing him to focus full-time on basketball moving forward.

“I had to take extra online classes,” Pate said. “It was a lot of work. I graduated early and will walk June 2.”

Because Pate, who just turned 17 last month, will not turn 19 until the 2025 calendar year, he will not be eligible for the 2024 NBA draft and is committing to spend two years with the Ignite program before becoming automatically eligible for the 2025 NBA Draft.

Pate says he will move to Las Vegas at the end of this month to begin training at G League Ignite’s practice facility with potential first round pick London Johnson, who is entering the second season of his two-year Ignite commitment, and Matas Buzelis, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, who previously announced his intention to forgo college and spend next season with Ignite.

Pate, who stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 194 pounds, played primarily point guard at L.G. Pinkston High School in West Dallas and on the Adidas grassroots circuit with Team Trae Young, giving him enviable size coupled with an ideal basketball frame for a playmaker. His dynamic perimeter shooting ability and live-dribble passing prowess give him significant long-term upside to grow into as his decision-making and defensive intensity continue to evolve.

“In the eighth grade my coach put the ball in my hands and told me to start dribbling, that’s how the whole big guard thing started,” Pate said. “I was skeptical at first, but I had the height to see over everyone and the assists came easy after that. It was like a snap of the finger.”

Pate says he would have elected to enroll in college at either Alabama or Arkansas this summer had the G League opportunity not presented itself.

“I was leaning toward Alabama,” Pate said” I liked the facility, especially the football team. Coach Oats and Coach Musselman are both great coaches.”

Instead, Pate will continue his education by enrolling in online classes this summer at Arizona State through a program created and funded by the G League, which allows players to work towards a college degree for up to 10 years after they retire, something his mother, an educator, insisted on.

“I’ve been prepping for this day my whole life,” Pate said. I’ve always played against older players, I’ve never played down. I’m going to have the same role I’ve been playing, as a combo guard playing the 1 and 2. My main thing is getting in the weight room and getting bigger, keeping my handle tight, passing the ball and playing to the best of my ability.”

Pate will join the likes of Buzelis, Johnson, forward Babacar Sane and another big guard in Thierry Darlan from the NBA Academy Africa, on potentially the most talented squad Ignite has put together to this point, with potentially more signings still to come.

“We all have the same dream,” Pate said. “Scoot Henderson’s dream is to be one of the best players in the league. Talking to London — it seems like he’s all about his business. I’m sure he’s going to get to the league in 2024. It’s all pro life, there’s not too much playing around. Everyone is about their business. They are getting paid to pay. No one wants to mess up the checks. It’s all business out there. I like to get straight to the point, not a lot of chatter stuff.”

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service used by NBA, NCAA and international teams.

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Recruit Dink Pate signs with NBA’s G League Ignite program