Minnesota Preparatory Academy had humble beginnings

(l-r) Donnell Bratton and Lucas Olson-Patterson
Photos courtesy Minnesota Preparatory Academy

Editor’s note: This is the first of two columns about Minnesota Preparatory Academy, an exclusive high school and postgraduate institution created by Lucas Olson-Patterson and Donnell Patton.

Seven years ago, I interviewed former Robbinsdale Cooper High School boys basketball star Lucas Olson-Patterson about basketball at his basketball program, which combines academics and athletics through unique strategies to arm student-athletes with the tools needed to succeed beyond the basketball court, known then as MplsFAB.

“We know that there are a lot of good basketball players that come from the inner city,” Olson-Patterson said at the time. “We started this program to not only develop great basketball players, but [also to develop] young men with skills and abilities outside of basketball.”

Today it appears that founders Olson-Patterson and Donnell Bratton have taken that concept to another level in Minnesota Preparatory Academy (MPA), a prep school in Minneapolis with similar goals and aspirations and the same focus as MplsFAB. 

“We’re going into our fourth year,” Olson-Patterson said, smiling. “It’s been quite the journey.”

It’s a journey that almost didn’t happen. “In 2017 my son started playing with MplsFAB,” Bratton said. “At the time, he was mentoring some kids, including his son. “Some of those kids grew up playing high school ball but didn’t have advocacy to go to the next level.”

From there it was a visit down south in which Bratton, who serves as MPA president, found the vision to create the program.

“We took a couple of kids from the program down south to an HBCU [Mississippi Valley State University] to check out the school,” he said. “On the way down, we looked at a prep school in Memphis. I’m looking around and seeing that this prep school wasn’t doing anything different than we were doing the past 10-12 years with the kids anyway.”

Bratton then posed a suggestion to Olson-Patterson. “On the way back, I looked at him and said that I didn’t want them to go to [some other] prep school,” he remembered. “Let’s just start our own school.”

Olson-Patterson admits he wasn’t immediately set on the idea at first, and for good reason. At the time, he was an assistant coach at Brooklyn Center High School for a team led by his son, sophomore sensation Lu’Cye Patterson, who finished third in the 2018 Class 2A state tournament.

“I didn’t want to do it at first,” Olson-Patterson said about creating the prep school. “But he [Patton] eventually convinced me.”

“I told him that we should be in control of our own narrative for young Black men,” Bratton said.

Olson-Patterson agreed, and Minnesota Preparatory Academy was born.