Catching Up with Milton Barnes: Updates on Play Right Basketball Program

Milton Barnes, head coach and founder of Play Right Basketball Academy, talks to one of his Junior NBA teams. Since 2017, Barnes has expanded the Academy across Calhoun County and has implemented several new programs to help improve the lives of underprivileged youth (Photo courtesy of Milton Barnes).

A lot can happen in two years. For Milton Barnes, an Albion legend, this is no exception. Since 2017, the last time The Pleiad published an article on Barnes, the Play Right Basketball Academy has grown substantially. Outside of the Academy, Barnes has gone through some career changes as well.

Play Right Basketball Academy Updates

Play Right Basketball Academy is now a certified 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that receives funding from grants and donations. With previously situated locations in Albion, Marshall, Battle Creek and the greater Calhoun County area, the Academy has spread its outreach to Jackson.  

Barnes also became the head coach for the Jackson High School men’s basketball team in the Spring of 2019. He mentors and works with the high school students that are on his team, allowing him to expand his outreach and impact even more lives. 

The Academy runs similar programs, including basketball practice, team playoffs, tutoring and mentoring, available for all grades from elementary to high school. Even college students from Albion College, Kellogg Community College and Jackson Community College are involved in the Academy as tutors for the younger students. 

Through the years, the mission of the Academy has remained the same. Barnes and his team want to continually focus on individualizing the academic, social, emotional and fitness help they give to each child, especially for those who are underprivileged. 

“A lot of these kids are denied opportunities because of the environment they grew up in and live in on a daily basis, so we try to give them an alternate way of looking at things and dealing with issues,” said Barnes. “All of these things are a part of their growth, and we’re hoping we’ll make a difference for a number of them.”

Milton Barnes poses with two other Play Right Basketball Academy coaches and three of the Junior NBA teams (Photo courtesy of Play Right Basketball Academy).

Looking Ahead: Play Right Basketball Academy

Barnes and his team at the Academy want to continue expanding the program and improving the lives of the youth that he works with. 

One of the ways Barnes wants to expand the program is by encouraging more girls to join. Barnes has already begun implementing the Junior MBA programming into the Academy for boys, but is now looking into how to implement the Junior WNBA programming. 

“Those girls that want to play should have an opportunity, and hopefully we’ll be able to give that to them,” said Barnes.

The Academy is also re-structuring the basketball program so that the students involved will be able to play on teams that compete against each other. This way, they can learn the fundamentals of basketball and then apply their skills to a game.

Milton Barnes on Campus

Previously, Barnes had been commuting from Dallas, Texas, to Albion every week to manage the Academy along with other projects. However, he has since moved to Albion so that he can focus on the programs he’s involved in in Calhoun County. Back in Michigan full-time, he’s taken up some other positions and started, as he says, “filling up his plate.”  

In January 2019, Barnes was named the director of student success at Albion College, which is under the umbrella of student development. In this new position, Barnes helps students, particularly underrepresented students on campus, understand what it takes to be successful in college. 

“We have a pretty good size of minority students here and I think it’s important to help them in their transition,” said Barnes. “I know it’s not easy for young people to come here, which is probably a different environment than what they’re used to, and to make that adjustment socially and academically.”

Along with being the director of student success, he is also working on expanding the Black Alumni Chapter. As an alum, he understands what it takes to graduate from Albion College and wants to be able to give current students of color an opportunity to meet and interact with other alumni of color that are successful post-grad. Barnes is hoping to integrate Hispanic and Latinx current students and alumni into the Black Alumni Chapter as well. 


About Gabby Henriksen 30 Articles
Gabby Henriksen is a senior from Royal Oak, MI and is an English-Literature and psychology double major. Gabby has been writing for the Pleiad for three years and is now the news editor, but is still writing articles. When Gabby's not writing, you can find Gabby reading her favorite novels, taking care of her abundance of animals, or taking a nap!

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