Timberwolves and Lynx Basketball Academy Logo
The Academy will hold its brand relaunch on Saturday, Dec. 14, at The Courts at Mayo Clinic Square to remind basketball fans what its top priority is: investing in youth basketball.
So why relaunch the Academy’s brand now?
“We really leveled up everything that we’re doing,” Basketball Academy Director George Ellis said. “It’s a good time to really share that message with everybody because we’re really trying to develop our relationships (with participants) so we can really help them improve their game and give them a really cool experience on top of that.”
Over the past few years, the NBA and USA Basketball have made a concerted effort to improve the youth basketball infrastructure by providing much needed resources to youth coaches and offering more opportunities for youth to develop rather than solely focusing on their National Team development.
To fulfill this goal, the leagues’ partnerships, such as the Timberwolves and Lynx Basketball Academy, must do their part in supporting aspiring basketball players. The Academy is determined to do so by giving its participants exclusive experiences they can’t get anywhere else. That’s not exactly an easy task in today’s day in age when anyone can hold their own camp or tournament or start their own basketball league. However, the majority of those camps, clinics and tournaments can’t offer the pristine basketball expertise the Academy is able to offer.
John Thomas, the Academy’s Vice President of Basketball Development, played in the NBA for five years before playing professional basketball overseas for nearly 10 years.
Ellis won a state championship while coaching under Hall of Fame Coach Larry McKenzie at Minneapolis North High School and played collegiate basketball at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. On top of that, he also served as the Director of Sports Development for the National Sports Center.
Senior Basketball Academy Manager Matt Bare has organized high caliber high school events such as the Timberwolves Shootout where elite high school teams from around the country played against top Minnesota teams at the Target Center.
Basketball Academy Manager Bre Salley received a full Division 1 scholarship to play college hoops at the University of Minnesota and Seattle University before playing four seasons professionally overseas.
Basketball Academy Coordinator Ashley Ellis-Milan played four years at the University of Minnesota, played overseas and also had a stint with the Minnesota Lynx.
The Academy coaches who host clinics and events around the Midwest are also former players and current coaches of teams outside of the Academy.
Not to mention, Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders and Vice President of Referee Development & Training Monty McCutcheon of the league office will all be in attendance at Saturday’s relaunch where they’ll reiterate the importance of the work that the Academy is doing. Coach Saunders offers his expertise during a clinic alongside Academy coaches.
Saturday’s event will serve as a celebration of youth basketball, but it’s only the beginning of the partnership the Academy wants to reestablish with the basketball community.
The Academy plans to not to create unique basketball experiences, but it also wants to serve as a reliable resource for players, coaches and basketball administrators. To provide ongoing support, the Academy will be revamping its website, which will offer advice articles written by its top basketball minds.
“It’s one thing for me to go and say, ‘Here’s a jersey, here’s a t-shirt, become a fan of the Timberwolves and Lynx,’” Ellis said, “but when we have that deeper relationship and deeper connection, in an ideal world, they’re just an extension of our family because we’re all one big club.”