As uncertainty swirls around the future of Kanye West’s Donda Academy, tournaments dropping the blue-chip basketball program from their schedules, event organizers and voices on social media are calling for support to players stuck in a seemingly precarious situation.
The highest-profile advocate: Boston Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown, who originally announced he was sticking with West’s Donda Sports agency before backtracking and cutting ties with the sports agency Tuesday. Brown has been vocal on Twitter ever since unconfirmed reports suggested Donda Academy is closing for the year, writing he had an issue with showcases dropping the school.
“To any HS basketball coaches & event coordinators, These student athletes can’t be negatively impacted by this,” Brown wrote Friday morning. “I will sponsor any event existing or new, willing to host Donda Academy / We all must ensure they complete their senior yr both academically & athletically. Contact me.”
Brown has tweeted repeatedly about the resources and opportunity that may be taken away as a result of Donda Academy’s potential closure, referencing visits he’s made to the school in the past and interaction with its students.
“I spent time at Donda Academy and it is alot better than some public schools in America with a better curriculum,” Brown wrote.
Omarion Bodrick, who played last season at Donda Academy, told The Times that players with the basketball team would take online classes from apartments for a couple hours each day.
“You really got to apply yourself to it if you want to get your work done,” Bodrick said.
He described the year, overall, as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Donda Academy, opened in 2021, boasts two of the top-three-ranked players in California in the class of 2023 in Robert Dillingham and AJ Johnson, in addition to four-star prospect JJ Taylor.
Brown also tweeted Friday morning, “We do not cancel our kids,” a sentiment echoed by Minnesota Preparatory Academy President Donnell Bratton.
The Times confirmed four prestigious tournaments — the Play by Play Classic, the City of Palms Classic, the Spalding Hoophall Classic and the John Wall Holiday Invitational — have dropped Donda Academy from their schedules. On Friday, Bratton said Donda Academy also wouldn’t be participating in a planned game against Minnesota Preparatory Academy on Nov. 3 at the Target Center, but made it clear that it wasn’t because of West’s remarks.
“We did not cancel Donda, we will not cancel Donda, because we don’t believe in canceling kids,” Bratton said.
After conversations in the past two days with Donda Academy leadership, Bratton said, the reason for the change was “the uncertainty” surrounding the program.
“We don’t know if they have a new school,” Bratton said. “We have to make decisions based off of what they have. We don’t know what players they have.”
An impassioned Bratton, in a phone conversation, spoke with the same fervor present in Brown’s written words.
“You hear my anger,” Bratton said. “I’m upset. Because Rob Dillingham, JJ Taylor and those other kids do not deserve what they’re going through right now.”