BOONE — Businessman and sports enthusiast Wayne Otto passed away March 31. Otto was 64.
Otto was the owner and operator of Pro-Am Sports in Boone. The shop specializes in sports memorabilia, including game-worn uniforms from several professional and college sports.
Otto, who is originally from High Point, was particularly fond of prep and college athletics. Otto teamed with Watauga boys’ basketball coach and Athletic Director Marc Payne to create The High Country Prep Classic. The tournament, which was held at Watauga High School, as well as hosted at Avery High School, featured several local teams, in addition to teams from around the Southeast and world.
“The first year I coached at Watauga we didn’t play in a tournament,” Payne said. I always felt like you needed to play over Christmas.”
The tournament grew to eight boys’ teams and added four girls’ teams. The tournament expanded to eight girls’ teams by the time Payne took over the Ashe County High School program.
“It was a really good tournament,” Payne said. “It was well known all over the place. We never had a problem finding teams to come.”
Payne also said the tournament helped prep basketball grow in the High Country.
Otto, who was nicknamed “World B,” also ran a tournament that featured some of the best prep boys’ basketball teams in the country. The featured team was often Oak Hill Academy, a team located in Mouth of Wilson, Va.
Oak Hill Academy featured players such as Ty Lawson, who went on to play at North Carolina and several NBA teams, and Kevin Durant, who also played in the tournament. Other notable alumni of the tournament who also played in the NBA included Brandon Jenkins, Rajon Rondo, Nolan Smith and Michael Beasley.
Otto, who is survived by a sister, Betsy Otto of High Point, was born July 16, 1955, in Illinois. He was the son of the late Walter and Vera Mae Knack Otto.
Otto played tennis at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk when it was a junior college and transferred to Oral Roberts and played tennis there. He also received the Varsity Club Award for 2020 from ORU. The award is given “annually to those who have had a substantial impact on ORU Athletics, both when they were on campus and beyond.”