DETROIT – Detroit Edison Public School Academy is known as a great school, but not as a basketball powerhouse, until now.
We met up with the basketball team just after school Tuesday before study hall. Practice is not until the evening. At Edison, academics come first.
"It’s big," senior shooting guard Gary Solomon said. "You have to keep your GPA up to play."
That requirement makes these student-athletes' accomplishment even more impressive. They beat the "who’s who" when it comes to Detroit high school basketball in the playoffs.
"We beat Mumford when everyone thought we would lose," senior point guard P.J. Mitchell said. "Then we played Cass. Everyone definitely thought we would lose. We played Renaissance and beat them."
The team completed the tournament with a win over Detroit Pershing, 82-45, for the prestigious Detroit Public School League title, becoming the first charter school in history to do so. It wasn't easy, considering how the season began.
"We were 2-6 in conference play," head coach Brandon Neely said.
Neely is known as "Coach Boe" at Detroit Edison.
"Expectations around the city definitely were not for us to win a championship," Neely said.
The players heard it from friends at other schools and other programs.
"'This school just got built, just joined the PSL. Why you going there?'" Deante Johnson said. "But we knew we would come here and leave a legacy with what we built."
The Pioneers surprised everyone in the Public School League. They will play the Catholic School League champion on Thursday. Then, it’s on to the state tournament. Suddenly, expectations are higher.
"I think the program is headed in the right direction," Neely said. "We wanted to be relevant in Detroit, and I think we accomplished that."