Kanye West’s Donda Academy basketball team faces scrutiny

Kanye West's Donda Academy basketball team faces scrutiny

The wide-ranging fallout from Kanye West’s recent antisemitic comments has trickled down to Donda Academy, his K-12 prep school in the greater Los Angeles area with a boys basketball team boasting a roster of blue-chip recruits.

Play by Play Classics, one of the top high school basketball event showcases in the country, announced Tuesday afternoon it was dropping Donda Academy from a scheduled game in Kentucky on Dec. 11.

In a statement released on Twitter, tournament organizers wrote that “Kanye’s words and actions violate our values as a company and a country.”

The founder, Jeremy Treatman, told The Times organizers felt “terrible” for the players at Donda, but ultimately it was a necessary decision.

“I’ve been doing this 23 years … this is nothing anybody wants to be a part of,” Treatman said.

The City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., another prestigious high school tournament that draws teams from across the nation, is keeping Donda Academy on its schedule for now.

“Obviously, the uproar hasn’t sat well with anybody, but at the end of the day, these are really good kids,” said John Naylor, the City of Palms Classic executive director. “We aren’t asking Kanye West to be on the floor, we are asking the kids to be on the floor. We invited the team, not Kanye.

“If indeed [Donda] starts to fall apart, if indeed players start transferring, we’ll revisit the decision.”

The Donde Academy was located in Simi Valley until recently and has moved to Chatsworth, according to the California secretary of state website.

Santa Clarita West Ranch High coach Jeff Bryant said a game that would have served as a “homecoming” event for Donda Academy against West Ranch was canceled by Donda on Oct. 17, two days before it was scheduled to take place. Donda Academy doesn’t have a home gym.

Opened in 2021, Donda Academy assembled a roster of top players, three of whom are playing at the NCAA Division I level after high school. This season, the Donda Doves have two of the top three-ranked players in California in the class of 2023 in Kentucky commit Robert Dillingham and AJ Johnson. Former NBA veteran Dorell Wright is in his first year as head coach.

“Coach Wright is an unbelievable man,” Treatman said. “He completely understood [our decision], and we’re going to stay in touch.”

Omarion Bodrick, a senior on the team last season now attending a junior college in Florida, told The Times that playing for Donda Academy was “a once-in-a-lifetime” experience. The team was showcased across the country and championed by “a different kind of figure” in West.

Players lived in apartments and took classes online for a couple hours each day, Bodrick said. Asked if he felt the academics prepared him for college, Bodrick responded, “I kinda feel like, not all the way, but it depends how you do your work. If you don’t apply yourself, you can really just go down there and do what you want.”

In addition to the City of Palms Classic, which tips off Dec. 18, Donda Academy is currently scheduled to play in the Shorty Classic in Minnesota on Nov. 3 and in a game at Morehouse College in Atlanta on Nov. 5.

“I definitely don’t feel like tournaments should block the kids,” Bodrick said.

On Tuesday, Rams star Aaron Donald and Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown announced they were parting ways with Donda Sports, a marketing and content agency owned by West.

Creative Artists Agency is the latest business to scrap or suspend its relationship with West over his remarks. Other leading entertainment industry figures, including Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel, called on all companies that work with the musician to cut ties with him after West tweeted that he wanted to go “death con 3″ on Jewish people.

Adidas ended its nearly 10-year partnership with West that included the launch of the popular — and lucrative — Yeezy sneakers. The sportswear company said in a statement that the move would cost it $246 million in profit. Apparel company Balenciaga, which supplied the Donda Academy basketball uniforms, also cut ties with West.

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