Class Notes

Where Are They Now?

Where Are They Now?
issue 04 | winter 2018
Class Notes - Where Are They Now? - 2 - Winter 2018

If you talk to William Middlebrooks about the future for the basketball players he works with at Middlebrooks Academy, a college preparatory school and academy for basketball in Los Angeles, he doesn’t often bring up the NBA or even its NBA Development League. “It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love that for the players I work with,” he says, “but that’s always a long shot. An education is something that’s so much more likely to happen for a player, and that’s enough to change their whole lives.”

Middlebrooks knows. He received an academic scholarship to attend Denison.

“It opened up a whole new worldview for me,” he says, “because I found out I didn’t have much of a worldview at all. I grew up in Detroit in the ’80s. If you know anything about that decade in that city—all the murders going on—it was an incredibly tough experience.”

For students at Middlebrooks Academy, it’s go-time from 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., five days a week. And, Middlebrooks stresses, it’s really about balance as much as about basketball. “Individual workouts, eating, classwork, tutoring, treatment…” he says. “It’s packed, but that’s often the college basketball experience—and that’s what I want to recreate for them so they understand what they’re getting into.” His students have included Kobe Paras, who famously dunked on LeBron James and is set to attend Creighton University at the time of this writing, and Ioannis Dimakopoulos, who averaged 5.2 points last year for the University of California–Irvine.

Middlebrooks’ philosophy is known as The Middlebrooks Way. “It’s about doing things with determination, overcoming, and never having excuses,” he says. “And it focuses on academics first—that’s best for your life, but that’s also how you’re recruited. You have to look at an individual school’s admission requirements—you can be the greatest athlete in the world, but if you don’t have their required 3.0 grade-point average, it isn’t happening.” —Eric Butterman

Published December 2017