The 2022-23 basketball season has been canceled for the elite prep team at Donda Academy, the private school founded by Kanye West, after the four remaining players left the school, the official said. one of the players and the mother of another player at USA TODAY Sports on Friday.
The fallout from anti-Semitic comments by West, the hip-hop entertainer now known as Ye, led to four majors dismissing the basketball team which included a handful of top college prospects. It also prompted the team’s top three players to transfer to other schools as additional games were called off.
This week, the remaining players decided to leave before the team could enter the field for a game, senior forward Keyon Kensie and senior forward Justin Johnson’s mother Kimberly Hicks said.
“We only care about playing basketball,” Kensie said via text message. “…cancellation of games prevented that, so players started leaving.”
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Hicks said her son was returning home to Miami on Friday.
“I know he’s disappointed,” she said via text message.
Dorell Wright, the head basketball coach at Donda Academy, located in Simi Valley, Calif., recently said he was bringing in players with the goal of lining up a team and playing this season, according to Hicks. But the players hadn’t arrived this week, according to Kensie.
Wright did not respond to a text message request from USA TODAY Sports.
The team had been training at the Sports Academy, a cavernous center that includes five basketball courts about 15 miles from the school – which at least some players had never even seen.
“What is this?” Braedon Moore, who played for Donda Academy last year, said when he saw a photo of the school’s campus, which features two black buildings, empty classrooms and an outdoor basketball court near the school’s main entrance.
Although Donda Academy markets itself as a K-12 school, the only high school students are basketball players, according to Moore and Tirone Cruz, father of former Donda Academy player Zion Cruz.
The school was abruptly shut down on October 27 as part of the fallout that included Adidas, Gap and talent agency CAA, among others, cutting ties with Ye. But the Donda Academy basketball team remained, albeit with a reduced roster.
Last year, in the team’s inaugural season, Donda Academy went 11-9, according to seasonticket.com. Hopes were higher for the 2022-23 season after the school signed Wright, who played in the NBA for 11 seasons.
But the roster took a major hit last week when five-star guard Robert Dillingham transferred to Overtime Elite in Atlanta and four-star guard AJ Johnson transferred to Southern California Academy.
Eventually, the list of 10 players was reduced to four.
In addition to Kensie and Johnson, the other remaining players were Trent Lincoln, a 6-3 point guard from Florida, and Davius Loury, a 6-7 forward from Chicago.
“Donda was a great program (that) helped me improve and we had a great team,” Kensie said. “But that’s the way it is. We’re still brothers and we’ll all be successful no matter what happened.
Kenny Hooks, whose son Jalen left school this summer after a disappointing season with the team, recalled something else about the experience.
“Our kids were sucked into the lifestyle of the rich and the famous,” Hooks told USA TODAY Sports in a recent interview. “They were around the stars the whole time.”
Friday, there were no stars and no basketball team.