SPIRE alum Aundre Polk knows a lot of things had to come together to bring him from his South Detroit neighborhood to one of the country’s most up-and-coming sports academies near Lake Erie in Geneva, Ohio.
Unlike many players with his height (6’10”) and natural ability, Aundre didn’t start playing on a team until he was a young teenager. Aundre started his high school basketball career at Old Redford Academy, a charter school near his home where he met and played alongside his future SPIRE teammates Rocket Watts and Isiah Jackson.
Playing on the AAU circuit gave Aundre an opportunity to be seen by SPIRE. While playing for the Old Redford Ravens, Aundre was recruited to play for a top performing team in the AAU that has sent more than 200 of its players on to Division I colleges and 10 to the NBA. Aundre’s team was sponsored by Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL), a travel circuit for players aged 17 that took him from Florida to California to Arizona to compete.
Playing in the AAU put Aundre in a position to be noticed by SPIRE Institute and Academy’s basketball program. After a visit to the sports academy and private boarding school in Ohio, Aundre enrolled at SPIRE, ready to work hard to bring both his academic and athletic performance to the next level.
During his time at SPIRE, Aundre was named its post grad basketball program’s most improved player. A team leader in rebounding and blocking shots, Aundre played alongside LaMelo Ball, the third overall pick of the 2020 NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets, and other top-level players currently making names for themselves in high-ranking collegiate programs across the country.
After leaving SPIRE, Aundre committed to play for Central Michigan University, an NCAA Division I school that competes in the Mid-American Conference. He also held offers from Boston College, the University of Maryland and a variety of mid-major teams including Kent State, Ohio, Akron and Detroit Mercy. SPIRE Coach Gravelle Craig sent Aundre off to the Chippewas with this observation: “Aundre can end up being a big-time recruit for CMU if he keeps progressing at the rate he progressed at SPIRE this last season.”
The only boy in a family of seven until he was 14, Aundre says the birth of his little brother six years ago has inspired him to not only be a better basketball player but a better man. “When my little brother looks at me and says ‘I want to be just like you’ I take that seriously,” says Aundre. “I know he’s watching me all the time, and I want to be a good role model for him.”
“When I played for The Family, Coach Covington used to say ‘you are your brother’s keeper,’ says Aundre. “At SPIRE, Coach Craig taught me that if you work hard enough and stay focused, you can get what you want. I’ve been given great opportunities in life that have brought me to where I am today. My goal is to take advantage of all the opportunities I’ve been given by graduating from college and having a successful life, whether that includes becoming an NBA player or not—so I can take care of myself, my little brother, and my family.”