What’s Next After High School Athletics?

This was the sign used to promote the educational session, "More Than A Game," at the Champion Durham Classic. (Photo Provided by Michael Susong.

Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024

By Kinslee Braddy

While planning the third annual Champion Durham Classic high school basketball tournament for the end of 2023, the Durham Sports Commission wanted to make this one different from the rest. Furthermore, they were looking for a factor that would make this tournament memorable for all participants and families. 

Lulu Black, assistant director of the DSC since July 2023, said one of her main goals was to contribute to the betterment of the Durham community. Black expressed different questions that arose when meeting about the Champion Durham Classic. 

“As we were in the planning stages of this tournament this year, we were like, ‘What can we do to make this year stand out?’” she said. “What can we do to make this year unique? And what’s something that can bring value to these student athletes?”


The DSC decided to hold educational sessions to provide high school athletes and their families with information about the college recruitment process and Name, Image and Likeness deals for NCAA athletes. These sessions were titled  “More than a Game, What’s Next?

One of the head speakers at the sessions was Ovester Grays, Hillside High School’s head women’s basketball coach, who has 31 years of experience in the coaching field. 

In his media interview with CBS 17 after the session, Gray emphasized the amount of information that goes into the college recruitment process. Due to the lack of knowledge shared with many high schoolers, he states that many athletes are not prepared for the recruiting process. DSC hopes that the information session would help guide current student athletes to better preparation. 

Grays also noted the increased use of the NCAA transfer portal. He added how difficult college recruitment can be for high school athletes due to the addition of incoming players from different colleges. 

“As a high school coach, that’s one of the challenges we face now,” Grays said. “How to support and encourage their dreams and goals, but also balance that with, ‘There’s more to you.’”

Another speaker at DSC’s educational sessions was Mitch Moser. Moser is currently the treasurer of the DSC’s board. 

“The process is pretty complex, and understanding it as early as you possibly can gives you a head start,” Moser said in a media interview with CBS 17. “That’s what we wanted to do, was give the kids a head start.” 

With the great turnout received at the sessions, the DSC hopes to expand their educational resources and events in the future. 

“We received great turnout, but if we have the opportunity to get in front of more kids and more families, that’s certainly something that we want to do,” Black said. “If these student athletes have a desire to play at the next level in college, we want to make sure that them and their families are fully equipped to go into this process.” 

While college athletics are seeing an increase of long term players and NIL deals, the DSC is hoping to find different opportunities to share information with athletes and their families. Whether it is on the court or helping out on the sidelines, the goal of the DSC is to encourage students to follow their long-term goals. 

 “It really is more than a game,” Black said. “The Durham Sports Commission wants to be a leader in preparing these student athletes for that next level. We want them to succeed and we want them to follow their dreams.”