Playing College Basketball in a Pandemic

Milwaukee Academy of Science is proud that two of our MAS seniors, Kaleim Taylor and Darius Hannah, received Division 1 scholarships to play college basketball. Both were named All-State athletes and the team finished one game away from the State Tournament when the school closed due to the pandemic. 

Having two D1 scholarship athletes was actually extremely unique last year. In fact, Darius and Kaleim were the ONLY two seniors attending a city of Milwaukee school to receive Division 1 scholarships in basketball. Surely there were other talented players in the city, but not all of them attended schools that set them up for the academic success necessary to meet NCAA criteria. Both Kaleim and Darius’ GPA and ACT made them eligible to receive scholarships to attend school. 

As proud alma mater of scholars and athletes, we decided to catch up with Kaleim who is now playing D1 Basketball at UW-Milwaukee. We asked how he is adjusting to being a D1 Athlete in the midst of a pandemic, along with how his freshman year classes are going.

How does a typical day look for you?

On Friday, we had boot camp (Intense workout) from 7am to 8am. After that, I have class from 9:30 to 10:45… At 12:30, I go back to the gym for weightlifting. And then I have basketball practice from around 2pm to 5pm.  

What safety precautions is the team taking?

We had to get tested right away and we had to wear masks during practice. When you walk into the gym, everything is 6 feet away. And coming up, we [are] getting tested every week.  We didn’t get to go full contact right away. We just recently started playing against each other like last week. There’s also little things like sanitizer, we all have our own bottle.  

How are you adapting to the D1 expectations, the workouts, just the general environment?

The biggest thing for me right now is just getting in shape [pause]. The biggest adjustment are workouts, for sure. Before college, I probably worked out once or twice a day about four days of the week. Ever since I came to UWM, I work out three times a day, every day. My rest days are Saturday and Sunday.

Basketball wise, what is your ultimate goal right now like for season and long term?

I think if I keep working hard, I think I can come be the Horizon League Freshman of the Year [smiles]. Or at the very least be a big impact to my team and help us win some games. In the long term, of course, I want to be able to make it to the NBA help my family and give back to the community. I want to give back to the city and people who helped me get where I am at now. 

Who would you play for in the NBA?

Whoever wants to draft me [smiles].

 How does it feel to be in college, thoughts so far?

It’s different you know, it’s definitely an adjustment. I wasn’t expecting college to be like this…College is a lot. You have a lot to do every day… As far as the work, it’s a lot more. It might not be hard, but it’s a lot of work. 

Let’s talk about MAS a little bit… What are some lessons from the court or the classroom that you’ve transferred over to college?

MAS was big on being a family, with the team and the school as a whole. So coming here and bringing a winning mentality mindset and a family atmosphere was big for me. Here at UWM, I’m trying to carry over that culture, and that starts with me and my team…So basically, working hard every day and becoming closer with my teammates… Here at Milwaukee, I feel like we’re already close and I feel like that’s going to help us out and translate well on to the court.

What does playing D1 mean to you?

It is really a blessing… I’m really looking forward to seeing my hard work pay off. It’s all about doing the hard work and putting more time in the gym. I’m ready to see how much better I’ve gotten… Just to be able to play is really like a dream come true.