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Aspire Academy: Inside basketball prep school

By Jobina Fortson, Reporter, 10/17/17, 8:34PM MST


LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Student athletes were hard at work inside Desales High School Tuesday afternoon.

They've come from all over the world to play for Aspire Academy, a basketball prep school run by Jeremy Kipness. Desales High School houses the program.

"I actually spent some time over in Senegal, West Africa, about two and half years ago," Kipness said. "While I was over there I would hear all these stories about kids coming over here from international countries and they weren't provided with the right resources."

The daily schedule for Kipness' players mirrors a college routine. 5:30 a.m. is strength and conditioning, 6:15 a.m. - skill work outs, 8 a.m. - school begins, 3 p.m. - study hall, 4:15 p.m. - film, 4:40 p.m. - the team meeting starts and then students practice at 5 p.m.

The rigor of the program has drawn criticism.

"There is a negative stigma with prep basketball," Kipness said. "You know it's just like any business or any organization. There's some that operate that might not have the kids best interest at heart."

Kipness worked under Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino for four years. Pitino was fired from the University of Louisville on Monday after the FBI came down on his program for a bribery scheme involving coaches, agents, an apparel company and players.

"I learned a lot from Coach Pitino," Kipness said. "This is something to where, you know, it's a completely different entity."

Kipness' father Michael funded Aspire Academy. He also serves as the executive director.

"Respect the program, respect the process, respect the kids," Michael Kipness said.

For both men, college basketball is the goal for their students, but it's not everything.

"That's one thing we try to stress here, the game is not an end all be all," Kipness said.

Aspire Academy has a scrimmage Sunday, October 22 at DeSales High School. Doors open at 2 p.m.

The players wrap up practice at the Aspire Academy. (Source: WAVE 3 News)