Written by Corbett Smith
Prime Prep needs to prove basketball players live in zone, didn’t transfer for sports
Prime Prep Academy, Deion Sanders’ new charter school, just had its first taste of athletic success — winning its first football game last Friday.
But controversy surrounding the school’s athletic programs could be on the horizon again.
There will be two major hurdles for Prime Prep’s new players to be eligible to play this season: whether they can 1) show residency in Prime Prep’s home attendance zone, identical to Dallas ISD’s boundaries, and 2) that they did not transfer to the school for athletic purposes.
The District 11-3A executive committee will meet Wednesday and is expected to begin discussing the eligibility of the school’s boys basketball team.
With less than a month before the start of basketball practice, Prime Prep has yet to submit any completed Previous Athletic Participation Forms, according to D.E.C. chairwoman and Madison principal Marian Willard.
Willard received some incomplete forms, which she returned, she said. Willard said it is unclear if Prime Prep would have any documentation Wednesday; other members of the committee have yet to see a single form for any sport.
It is yet another misstep between the school and the committee, casting doubt on a team — if Prime Prep has its way — that would be a favorite to win the Class 3A state title.
Several players have transferred from two-time defending TAPPS 4A state champion Arlington Grace Prep, giving Prime Prep a roster featuring at least five Division I players, including some of the nation’s top prospects.
Junior point guard Emmanuel Mudiay (6-4, 185) is considered a top-five player nationally by several recruiting services and has college offers from Kentucky, Kansas and others. In the frontcourt, seniors Karviar Shepherd (6-10, 225) and Jordan Mickey (6-7, 210) are four-star recruits; Mickey committed to LSU, while Shepherd is set to take an official visit to Kansas this month.
Prime Prep has yet to release an official roster, but it’s been widely reported in recruiting circles that the three have transferred to the school. Prime Prep officials would not comment.
A video shot in September by Rivals.com showed Mudiay, Mickey and Shepherd participating in an open scrimmage at the school, with co-founder Sanders watching courtside. Shepherd was later asked in a video interview about transferring to Prime Prep. And all three players, along with former Grace Prep players Damon Collins and Micah Seaborn, have tweeted about attending the school’s Oak Cliff campus.
In advance of Prime Prep’s appearance at their tournament, the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla. — one of the nation’s top showcase tournaments — published: “TAPPS 4A champs (Karviar Shepherd, Jordan Mickey, Emmanuel Mudiay …) shift from Grace Prep to Deion Sanders’ new school.”
Prime Prep couldn’t field enough home-zoned football players to play varsity football, sparking criticism and sanctions from the D.E.C., composed of administrators and coaches from Madison, Roosevelt, Wilmer-Hutchins, Irving North Hills and Ferris. In a heated Aug. 17 meeting, the D.E.C. attempted to ban Prime Prep from all sports, before backing down in September after it realized it overstepped its authority.
The “transferring for athletic purposes” clause might be the bigger challenge. Former Grace Prep basketball coach Ray Forsett is now Prime Prep’s coach.
Forsett said he could not speak with the media. The school’s co-founder, D.L. Wallace, told The Dallas Morning News that his school instituted a media ban at the start of the fall semester.
Yet, Rivals.com national basketball analyst Eric Bossi had no problem gaining access to Prime Prep players on Sept. 10, shooting a video on Prime Prep’s practice and interviewing Mudiay and Shepherd for the recruiting website.
“Appreciate all the help today from the staffs and kids at Prime Prep and Dallas Kimball. Saw lots of good stuff.” Bossi tweeted that day.
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN