While most prep schools are by-the-book and legitimate, there are some that give the idea of “basketball academies” a bad name.
West Virginia Prep Academy has now joined the latter group.
According to the Charleston Gazette, an investigation by both local and federal authorities has been launched into the prep school, which duped nearly 20 kids from the United States, France, Turkey and Africa into attending a basketball academy.
“We found around 16 to 18 kids in a two-bedroom apartment sleeping on the floor,” South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens told the newspaper. “They hadn’t eaten in two days.”
Daniel Hicks, a South Charleston resident who played basketball at New Mexico State and Concord, is behind the supposedly fictitious prep school. Mullen said Hicks “pulled a disappearing act.”
Hicks stands by his prep school, according to the paper. He claims his school was approved by the state (which the state and county both deny) and that the players were brought to the school without his knowledge.
This isn’t the first time his school has been in the news – even though it hasn’t even opened yet. When Hicks first told the Gazette about his school back in April, much of the information he provided didn’t check out.
The players were not the only ones tricked, as coaches from Oklahoma and North Carolina also went to West Virginia Prep Academy under false pretenses. Several of the players who were 18 or older were sent to Oklahoma with one of the coaches, paid for by the city. The rest were staying at a Ramada for free, and will also be heading home.
This story seems far from over, as the scam has caught the eye of both South Charleston police and the FBI.
“This is very complex and we’re just breaking the iceberg on a lot of it,” South Charleston Police Chief Brad Rinehart told the paper. “[The kids] felt cheated, like they got scammed and let down – they put their trust in Hicks.”
(h/t Prep Rally)