Memphis Day Academy Provides Postgraduate Student-Athletes a Pathway to Academic Success and College Basketball
Memphis Day Academy is a postgraduate school located in Memphis, TN that provides players an opportunity to play basketball and improve academically by spending an additional year after high school preparing for college. The Day Academy Network is a collection of schools that provide faith-based quality education by following the Accelerated Christian Curriculum. Day Academy also has another postgraduate school located in Arkansas.
The program is more than just about basketball. It’s about putting a foundation into young men regardless of race or background.
One of the benefits of playing for the Memphis Day Academy Gladiators basketball program led by Head Coach Brandon Branch, is that the year does not count against a player’s NCAA eligibility while student athletes are working to improve themselves on and off of the court under his guidance.
Prior to Branch joining the Gladiators, he began his career as student manager under then University of Memphis Head Coach Josh Pastner, who now is in the same role leading the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Branch picked up a wealth of collegiate and high school experience along the way which included a year he spent as a Graduate Assistant under Head Coach Matt O’Brien at Southwestern College, an NAIA basketball program located in Winfield, Kansas.
In addition to a stint at Southwestern College, Coach Branch also spent a year as an Assistant Basketball Coach at Whitehaven High School under the tutelage of current Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball Assistant Coach Faragi Phillips. A common denominator of all the coaches that Branch learned under is that each instilled an understanding of what a real coach truly is to young student athletes into his philosophy.It was that experience along with the hunger to teach and prepare players for college that led him to his current stop at Memphis Day Academy.
Despite his second season being halted due to Covid-19, Coach Branch has impressed thus far, as shown by the number of players he is coaching already receiving interest from college basketball programs.
Six players from his previous team received college scholarships under his guidance including: Denver Jones (Garden City Community College), Dontae Horne (Eastern Oklahoma), DeCoreio Smith (Southwest Tennessee Community College), Zay Maclin (Tennessee Western), Jordan Johnson (Illinois Central College), and Jaren Mitchell (Edward Waters College).
This year Coach Branch began with a goal of sending the entire team to a college program, “Last year we sent six guys to college, and this season we have ten guys that would like to play college basketball, and we actually have two high school guys in the class of 2021 and 2022”.
Memphis Day Academy Founder and President Dr. Anthony Canada is no stranger to identifying burgeoning head coaches looking to lead a program that provides a pathway to both graduation and a future in collegiate athletics. Dr. Canada is also a co-founder of Tennessee Preparatory Academy, another Memphis-based program led that offers a postgraduate path to college basketball with their most notable alumni being current University of Memphis point guard Damion Baugh and Ole Miss forward Antavion “Dude” Collum. According to Dr. Canada, “The motto is Family, God, Community”.
The Gladiators currently have several players receiving heavy interest from college basketball programs, and that number could grow once the Gladiators return to the court considering the coaching staff places an emphasis on defending and employing an uptempo offensive system which is attractive to young players.
Another advantage that Memphis Day Academy is enjoying over its competition is the access to mental health professionals, considering Assistant Coach Otis Anderson is also a psychiatrist who has developed a passion for helping young men from a diverse array of backgrounds develop mental toughness.
When Memphis Day Academy’s season came to a halt, Branch, Anderson, and Dr. Canada managed to keep the players engaged as much as possible during the offseason. The trio of Coach Brandon Branch, Coach Branch, and Dr. Anthony Canada each take pride in helping young men accomplish their dreams both academically and athletically.
For Coach Brandon Branch it’s all about establishing good will amongst not only his players, but amongst their conference foes. “Relationships are everything, you can’t do anything on your own. If you want to go fast, go by yourself, if you want to go far be on a team”.
Memphis Day Academy also provides housing and meals for its players and most importantly a postgraduate platform that provides an opportunity for players to showcase their skills in a competitive setting before heading onto college.