Robert Icart has been running the BTI College Prep Basketball Club for 25 years (Courtesy photo)

Robert Icart has been running the Basketball Training Institute (BTI) College Prep Basketball Club for 25 years, helping 600 students attend college. BTI has gotten 35 students into the Ivy Leagues and eight into the NBA. Other students went into careers in various fields including law and healthcare.

BTI is an AAU team that helps students reach their career goals with Icart helping them navigate their career path.

“What we created is like a fraternity almost where we’re so involved with their lives in high school,” Icart said. “When they go off to college, we’re still involved in helping them find an internship, making connections through the corporate world if they’re trying to go into investment banking or the medical field.”

BTI players visited Columbia University (Courtesy photo)

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Icart recruits “high academic, high character kids” into BTI who have a love for basketball. Throughout their time at BTI, the students go on college tours and compete in front of college coaches.

The youth involved in BTI can expect to get SAT and ACT prep and life skills workshops. The students also tour college campuses, including Ivy Leagues and HBCUs.

“We bring in professionals and alumni to talk about their career paths and how they navigated their college career into what they’re doing now,” Icart said. “I have a player at Harvard Business School who works for Tesla explain to the kids … his objectives and how he’s leveraging all the skills you learn on a basketball court to the business world now.”

BTI provides scholarships that accommodate for their travel fees when players compete. They also help the students find scholarships.

Some BTI players go on to play in the NBA (Courtesy photo)

“There’s a lot of overhead expenses, facilities, the cost of events that we go to, the travel,” Icart said. “We fundraise every year and accept tax deductible donations from corporations, from businesses, from private donors, from alumni.”

Recruiting hard working and disciplined youth along with having consistent bonds among the coaching staff has kept BTI going. Former BTI students frequently come back and mentor the current students.

“The guys that play for us, there’s an open door for them to come back and coach,” Icart said. “Maybe it’s just to build a resume, maybe it’s just to earn a little money in the summer so that they can pay the bills.”

Notable players who have benefited from BTI include Memphis Grizzlies forward Ziaire Williams, Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Bryce Young, and Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London.

BTI provides scholarships so players can travel and compete (Courtesy photo)

Former student athlete of the week Kennedy Mitchell-Egbo also benefits from the resources provided by BTI.

A highlight for Icart is when he gets a chance to celebrate a student when they go to college.

“That’s really our main objective is to try to help place kids into a four-year situation,” Icart said. “Every time I get to do that, 20,25 times a year where a kid ends up going to  a four-year school that they’re excited about. That, for me, is the most memorable experience of the year.”