Editor’s note: This is the second of two columns about Minnesota Preparatory Academy, an exclusive high school and postgraduate institution created by Lucas Olson-Patterson and Donnell Patton.
Four years ago, Lucas Olson-Patterson and Donnell Bratton decided to create Minnesota Preparatory Academy, providing another avenue for student-athletes to fulfill their athletic and educational aspirations at the high school and collegiate level through basketball.
For those who enroll at the educational facility housed at the Jerry Gambles Boys and Girls Club in North Minneapolis, it provides an opportunity, as Barrett emphasized, “to create our own narrative as Black people.”
MPA itself appears to be evolving into something special.
It’s not a member of the Minnesota State High School League, it competes nationally against some of the nation’s top prep schools, its students complete their class work online and are also provided room and board. The online curriculum allows MPA student-athletes to concentrate on their studies while traveling on the road for tournaments.
There was plenty of skepticism when MPA actually started competing a few years back. “There were people who didn’t like what we were doing in the beginning,” Olson-Patterson said. “Some still don’t.”
Olson-Patterson also expressed his disappointment when, initially, the community didn’t embrace or support MPA.
“I kind of understood when some of the high school coaches didn’t like what we were doing,” he said. “But I thought I would at least get the support from the [Northside] community I grew up in, but it didn’t happen.”
Olson-Patterson, who serves as head coach, did say that things were improving. “I wouldn’t say that people are agreeing with our philosophy, but they at least respect it now,” he said.
Part of that respect was built on the early success of Lu’Cye Patterson, who left Brooklyn Center after his sophomore season to join his father, Olson-Patterson, and Bratton on their MPA journey.
After an outstanding two years at MPA, the 6’2” Patterson played at Missouri State University before transferring to the University of Charlotte, where he will be a redshirt sophomore this up and coming season.
“He’s competed against some players that are in the NBA right now,” Olson-Patterson said of his son. “We play a highly competitive schedule.”
It looks as if what Patterson and his other teammates started is connecting with those who followed. All of the players from the MPA Class of 2022 will be going on to play at the Division I level in community college and NCAA competition.
Arop Arop (Columbia University), Brendon Moss (Kent State), Antonio Chol (Rutgers), DJ Jefferson (Tennessee) Gob Gob (Hill Community College, Texas), Awer Awer (South Plains Community College), Texas), Antwaun Massey (New Mexico Community College), Cam Harris (New Mexico Community College), and Tavion Banks (Northwest Florida State College) represent the MPA Class of 2022.
At the MPA post-grad level, Kortland Johnsen (Cameron University, Division II), Xavier Lancaster (Midland College, Division I Community College), and Quadre Watts (Community Christian College, Division II Community College) will be continuing their athletic and scholastic careers as well.
Olson-Patterson and Bratton are achieving their goals, and it doesn’t look like they’re slowing down anytime soon. Bratton put everything into perspective.
“We want to control our own narrative,” he reiterated. It looks like MPA is doing just that.
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.