Advanced Prep International (Dallas) boys’ basketball coach Ray Forsett said he’s “not concerned” with a report that questioned, among other things, why elite players would enroll to play for his team.
On Wednesday, Sports Illustrated reported that the NCAA ruled April 21 that it wouldn’t accept classes from the Dallas-based prep school. Forsett said he, his staff and players’ parents were “prepared for” the NCAA’s decision. API is appealing the ruling.
“We were ready for that from the NCAA,” Forsett told USA TODAY High School Sports on Thursday. “What people don’t understand is that when you’re just opening a school there’s a lot of scrutiny that comes along with it.
“For that reason, we met with the parents before the season and, as Coach (Trevor) Duval stated, a lot of the guys went the same route as Trevon (Duval) and took classes with accredited, university-based online schools that were approved through the eligibility center to make sure they would be fine either way.”
Trevor Duval said his son took classes through the University of Nebraska High School. Trevon Duval, who was enrolled at St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) before transferring to API, is ranked as the No. 1 point guard in the Class of 2017 by ESPN.com. His father told Sports Illustrated that they have not decided whether Trevon will remain at API for his senior year.
Forsett pointed to Harry Giles III, the No. 1 overall player in the ESPN 100 for 2016. He transferred from Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) back home to North Carolina and took online courses at Forest Trail Academy (Kernersville, N.C.) after an ACL tear sidelined him his entire senior season. Giles is currently enrolled in summer school at Duke.
“We’re 100 percent committed to taking care of our kids like we always have been.,” Forsett said. “We’ve been transparent with the NCAA the whole way.”
An NCAA spokesperson did not return a phone call from USA TODAY High School Sports.
Forsett coached at Prime Prep in Dallas for three years until the charter school, which was co-founded by ex-NFL star Deion Sanders, closed in January 2015 amid allegations of theft and the mishandling of funds to eligibility questions. Forsett has been adamant that there is no connection between API and Prime Prep.
“We’ve been through all of this before,” Forsett said of NCAA scrutiny.
The NCAA’s ruling against API has the biggest effect on its seniors: Baylor signee Mark Vital, Cincinnati signee Nysier Brooks, Rider signee Stevie Jordan and Arizona signee Terrance Ferguson, a McDonald’s All American.
Forsett wouldn’t comment on reports that Ferguson was considering going overseas to play professionally instead of suiting up for the Wildcats, but did say, “Eligibility won’t factor in to any decisions my players make because they’ll be fine.”
“We’ve had guys who were ruled ineligible before and we filed an appeal and they were reinstated,” Forsett said. “I’m confident that all of our seniors will be ruled eligible after this appeal.”
Forsett maintained that his focus at API is “always about the well-being of the kids.”
USA Today High School Sports was the first to profile API, which boasted three players ranked in the top 15 of the ESPN 100 and ESPN 60, in September. The Bulldogs finished 34-7 last season and checked in at No. 24 in the final USA TODAY Super 25 rankings.
“This isn’t a basketball factory or anything like that. API is absolutely a school,” Texas Christian Athletic League executive director Darryl Crain told USA TODAY HSS in September. “You can’t just join our organization, you have to meet the requirements.”
However, API is not currently listed among the members of the TCAL on the organization’s website.
Back then Forsett cautioned that API was only “in the process” of getting the school through the NCAA’s Clearinghouse. He said that process would be a “lengthy” one, but didn’t expect it to impact his players.
As it stands, it has.
“We were proactive to fix that; we’re not in the business of messing up any kid’s brand,” Forsett said. “The parents and the staff put things in place to make sure the kids would be fine.”
Forsett objected to comments made by ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla in the SI story. Fraschilla was quoted as saying that players who went to API reflected “poor planning and poor decisions by adults.”
“The parents were responsible and on top of things the whole time so I don’t respect what Fran Fraschilla from ESPN said in that SI story about parents planning poorly and that kids just came here for shoes,” Forsett said. “The truth is that can get a whole lot more shoes at other places. It’s ridiculous.”
Forsett said he’s hopeful that the NCAA will eventually change its stance and accept courses at API.
“We’re going through all of the proper channels and this is a part of the process we were open about back in September,” Forsett said. “Of course we didn’t want it to happen this way, but when you’re starting a school things like this can happen. … Again, I’m confident that all of our kids will be eligible; I just hope that we get the same media attention when that happens. I guess we’ll see.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY