BOONE – Boone businessman and sports enthusiast Wayne Otto passed away on March 31. Otto was 64 years old.

Otto was the owner and operator of Pro-Am Sports in Boone. The shop specializes in sports memorabilia, including uniforms for several professional and college sports.

Otto, from High Point, was particularly fond of preparatory and varsity athletics. Otto partnered with Watauga boys’ basketball coach and athletic director Marc Payne to create The High Country Prep Classic. The tournament, which took place at Watauga High School, included several local teams, but also teams from the Southeast.

“The first year I coached at Watauga we didn’t play in a tournament,” said Payne. I always felt like you had to play on 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 everywhere. We have never had a problem finding teams to come.

Payne also said the tournament helped prepare basketball to thrive in the High Country.

“It was a boost for basketball in Watauga County,” Payne said. “He was such a fan of high school basketball. “

Otto, nicknamed “World B,” also hosted a tournament featuring some of the country’s top pre-season basketball teams. The featured team was often Oak Hill Academy, a team located in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia.

Oak Hill Academy featured players such as Ty Lawson, who went on to play in North Carolina and several NBA teams, and Kevin Durant, who also participated in the tournament. Other notable former students 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.

He played tennis at Lees-McRae when it was a junior college and transferred to Oral Roberts and played tennis there. He also received the college’s 2020 Varsity Club Award. The award is given “annually to those who have made a substantial impact on ORU Athletics, both while on campus and beyond.”

Memorial services for Otto will be scheduled at a later date due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Online condolences can be sent to the Otto family at www.hamptonfuneralnc.com.