The vast number of American Prep basketball academies are steadily growing. Each year, a gaggle of new programs devoted to enhanced skills development and exposure are established. While many institutions are either accurately depicted or unfairly pigeonholed as “basketball factories,” CGM Academy(AZ) enters its inaugural season as one of the more academically enriched programs in the country.
Under Tony Miller, the former Marquette star who dealt out 956 career assists (seventh all time in Division-I history), academic integrity isn’t just emphasized—it’s preached with an iron fist.
Following a 10-year professional career which included seasons in top-shelf leagues throughout The Netherlands, Belgium, and England, Miller would prolong his hoops livelihood as strength and conditioning coach and later an assistant coach at theUniversity of Southern California.
Miller also attained his master’s degree and spent time working hand-in-hand with student-athletes throughout the country. His focus on academics, as well as the essential day-to-day management and responsibility of academics has never faltered.
Now the Director of Player Development at CGM Academy and possessing expertise in skill refinement, Miller holds each and every last one of his student-athletes to a lofty academic standard.
Non-qualifiers are required to take SAT and ACT Prep courses, complete with a chock full of demanding courses and tutoring sessions. The program currently boasts a bevy of Ivy League talent, beginning with 6-foot-5, 185-pound guard Deondre Bourne.
Following an illustrious career at Leman Prep in New York, during which he eclipsed 2,000 career points, Bourne manufactures points at a torrid pace. The blend of instinctive scoring and high academics have made him attractive to programs such as Yale, Columbia, and Cornell. He’s an archetypal high-scoring guard with a knack for creating off the bounce, freeing up space for his shot amid ramped up defensive pressure. These attributes enabled Bourne to emerge as one of New York City’s most perilous scorers since Lance Stephenson’s Lincoln High heyday.
Another high-academic and intriguing prospect is 6-foot-6 Class of 2019 forward Alec Bryan. Known for his versatility and adeptness on the glass, Bryan will evolve into more of an interchangeable piece this season.
He’s displayed a smooth, consistent 15-20-foot jumper and deft dishing ability, factors which enable him to play as a stretch four. Being multi-positional and guarding players with a significant height advantage, he’ll shoulder various responsibilities for the program this season. Now adapting to the mentality of a small forward and providing active interior defense, Bryan’s play has been supplemental to true bigs in the post. As the coaching staff noted, Bryan’s IQ on the court (as witnessed through his ability to pick apart a defense and foresight in depicting a play before it unfolds) mirrors his intellect in the classroom. He currently holds a 4.2 Grade Point Average.
As Bryan continues to evolve this season while embracing an around-the-clock work rate, the Ivy League and high-academic potential is evident. CGM’s emphasis on structure and time management, components that will best prepare Bryan for the challenges of the collegiate transition, were two pivotal elements which persuaded him to transfer in.
The program will also feature a local product in 6-foot-1, 165-pound Jerome Sims III. Sound in all facets of his game, Sims is a knockdown specialist who has improved exponentially since the past year. Having recently scored a 1510 on the SAT and a 31 on the ACT, Sims will take another stab at the ACT exam this fall. Having worked diligently through practice exams and courses, Sims is aspiring to jack his ACT score up to 34.
With poised play during heightened pressure and the ability to get big, loud buckets at the opportune time, Sims can best be described as a calming influence at both guard positions. Mike Minessa, an under-the-radar recruit out of California, will also offer immediate contributions. Like the aforementioned trio, Minessa has already generated Ivy League interest and sustains a rate of high academic success, heady play, and leadership qualities that others feed off.
In addition to seizing the on-court leadership mantle, the onus and expectation is on this core to lead by example as student-athletes and admirable members of the community.
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