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A League Worth Watching

By Nate Marcus, 01/27/21, 12:00PM CST


As social media has taken over our world, exposure has become everything.  Specifically for young athletes looking to make a name for themselves as their careers progress from high school to the professional level.  This leads to programs and prep schools centered around ridiculous competition for spots and motivation becomes about who can shoot up recruiting rankings.  

A program that has separated themselves from others around the country has been Creating Young Minds out of Lewisville, Texas.  Founders Dr Shira Ackerman, Mathis Crowder and Charley Brown have created a program that has modeled European basketball academies allowing younger athletes to get better by competing against professional basketball players. Dr Ackerman described their program,  “What makes us different is so many of our athletes are undiscovered.  We are giving athletes the opportunities to be successful academically.  Program is not just about basketball, teaching kids about life and how to further themselves beyond the game of basketball.”

Creating Young Minds does not just separate itself with what they do in the classroom or on the court, but also in the community.  During the pandemic the program has partnered with the CCA of Lewisville, Texas to help at risk populations obtain essential goods.  Coach Mathis Crowder, who works with the players in the program everyday, greatly stressed how important building a relationship with the community is. 

Building success off the floor is not the only thing Creating Young Minds is doing.  On the floor, they are thriving and only improving sending 22 players to the collegiate level since the founding of the program.  Former professional basketball player and NBA Draft guru Rashad Phillips analyzed the league and its players, “I’m very impressed with what the undiscovered league is all about. Not only is it a great league but it highlights the integrity of the game and a person like myself appreciates those kinds of things.”  He highlighted standouts within the program, “Mike Lenoir is a shifty quick PG that has a good feel for the game, great on ball defender, has leadership skills that go past the stat sheet. I believe this kid could play in the G-League and have a positive impact... CJ Carter is a solid scorer with great footwork and craft. Plays under control and knows how to create angles and gets to his spots. A dominant two level scorer.”  

Transforming undiscovered athletes with limited confidence into high level basketball prospects is what makes this worth doing for Coach Crowder and Dr. Ackerman.  Crowder when asked what his favorite part about working with his players, “We are giving them confidence in basketball and in life, lots of athletes come into the program with no confidence and helping these kids build strength and confidence in the mind and body.  If that can happen, the sky's the limit for the kids seeing that these kids can become great.”   

Though the program has been a resounding success, both founders know that there is room to grow.  According to Dr. Ackerman, “For the program, success long term is continuing to grow along with impacting more and more lives every day.  Being able to reach farther than DFW and Lewisville is going to be really important for Creating Young Minds.  Already have guys across the country but looking for more and for their members to be a valued member of the community.” Coach Crowder looks at the success through the achievements of his athletes, “For the athletes themselves, it is to reach their goals on the basketball court, play at a high level along with building their brand.  success is predicated on one being happy with themselves every day when they wake up and that is what I want for them.” 

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