By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A prep school that focuses on basketball is a concept that’s new to Minnesota.

You go to class and you work out three times a day and you play a national schedule. The roster features Minnesota kids and kids from all over the country.

Lucas Patterson was an assistant high school coach with a background as a college player. He had a vision for his star point guard son to create prep school in Minnesota for him to attend.

“It definitely was a motivating factor to get him to do this program, and I think I wanted to give him something I didn’t have,” Lucas Patterson said.

So his son, Lacai, and three of his Brooklyn Center teammates left high school for prep school.

“Brooklyn Center was always like a home to me, so I mean it was really hard leaving that school,” Lacai Patterson said. “I got a lot of love there so, I mean, it’s kind of hard.”

(credit: CBS)

So they decided to move it to the Boys and Girls Club in north Minneapolis. There is now a national school — Minnesota Prep Basketball Academy.

“It’s definitely difficult,” said co-founder Donnell Bratton. “I think the opportunity surpassed the trial and the tribulations that I foresee, so the passion overseen that, so I needed to do it. It was just a purpose, and I felt that I was mandated to do this work.”

They practice basketball and go to class — all intended to ready them for what they hope is a college career.

“It’s been good. I’ve been working every day,” said guard Aaron Moore. “The goal is go to college D-1.”

When you watch this team, one player stands out. His name is Brave Williams, and he came from a Native American reservation near Buffalo, New York. He stands 7-feet-3-inches tall in sneakers, and weighs about 410 pounds. He is what they call a project. His shear dimensions make him a candidate.

“My dad, he didn’t want me to do sports when I was younger because I was just growing up so fast, he didn’t want my muscles to be torn or anything,” Williams said. “So I didn’t start playing basketball or like taking anything seriously til like eight grade.”

Can this take him to a basketball level he is not yet seen? That is the idea of a prep school.

“He’s the eighth wonder of the world. He’s 7-foot-2, 400 pounds. I mean, he’s an amazing kid, amazing kid,” Bratton said. “He can get up and down, great footwork for a big man that young.”

These types of institutions have been scattered around the country for decades. And all are designed to focus a student athlete on basketball and more.

“The daily grind regiment, the academic prowess, just all our effort that they’re putting into their self is going to be, you know, it’s going to pay out dividends for them when they get older,” Lucas Patterson said.

So you better love this game, and you better want to get better every day in every way.

“They can’t even touch the floor until we see a certain grade-point average. And it’s not just the traditional public school grade-point average. We’re not talking about 2.0, we’re talking about we want honors students,” Bratton said. “The day is like about six to eight hours of education, from 6 a.m. all the way up until sometimes 9 o’ clock at night.”

That’s what he’s trying to do in Minnesota, and that’s the vision that will take some time to take shape. A basketball presence, but more.

“It’s fun for me because I like basketball, so, I mean, the majority of the day we work out and stuff like that,” Lacai Patterson said. “But we still got our school and stuff, but we work out three times a day, so I like that.

Mike Max