Ed Singleton was a well-rounded athlete at James Madison Memorial High School participating in football, basketball, and track and field. When he graduated in 2005, he immediately began volunteering for local travel basketball programs in the area.
“What I had noticed at a young age was that a lot of our AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) programs had a lot of senior AAU directors. There was no one in their 20s who was doing it; it was guys that were around for 20-30 years. So I took that as an initiative to keep it going and to give back to the area,” Singleton, coach and director of the Wisconsin Dynasty Program, tells Madison365.
Wisconsin Dynasty started back in 2013 with the aim of helping student-athletes in the Dane County area by offering them a chance to take their basketball talents to the next level.
“For Wisconsin Dynasty, we pride ourselves in finding hidden gems and turning them into diamonds,” Singleton tells Madison365. “While building a program up, we have been lucky enough to recruit some of the top players in the state. But we originally started as, ‘OK. These are 10 guys who are really good at basketball that people don’t know much about; let’s put them in some top events so they can receive some exposure and get some media write-ups.’”
Wisconsin Dynasty AAU was created to give young athletes an opportunity to play summer basketball at its highest levels and to expose them to the essential educational disciplines necessary to become productive student-athletes.
Singleton has 10 players on his 12U girls and 15U girls teams. For the boys, there are 10 players at 15U, 8 players at 16U and 10 players at 17U.
Wisconsin Dynasty also hosts training sessions that stress fundamentals, conditioning and game knowledge. That includes offensive and defensive drills, aerobic core strength building, developing player attributes, improving athletic stances, speed/agility workouts, dribbling drills, shooting drills and more.
Singleton, who was the first African-American head coach in Verona’s history, leads various coaches and recruiters in the Wisconsin Dynasty program. He says they are always looking for more coaches.
“In the coaching world, coaches don’t make a lot of money coaching basketball. So we do it for the passion,” he says. “I’m always looking for people – male of female – that share the same passion for the sport or passion for our youth to get that extra push.
“I often tell my new coaches to give that kid that little bit of information that you wish somebody would have told you at age 16. Whatever you can give back to them is important as you build a relationship with them,” he adds. “It’s such a crucial age.”
Singleton says that they often stress at Wisconsin Dynasty that it’s “bigger than basketball” or that it’s “bigger than sports.”
“It really does take a community to raise a child,” Singleton says. “There are some less talented kids that we may keep on the team because we know that they will stay out of trouble a little bit longer during the summer if they have some things on the schedule that keeps them busy during the weekends versus just being stagnant and not having much to do.
“We’re attempting to give student-athletes an opportunity to see basketball at another level and to understand the educational values that come along with it,” Singleton adds. “Also, they get that brutal honesty that we need to have around what type of classes they ought to be taking or whether it even makes sense to be playing travel basketball right now or should we be focused on testing scores. Things of that nature.”
Last fall, Wisconsin Dynasty brought semi-professional basketball to Madison having a team that competes in the Wisconsin Basketball League (WBL), a men’s semi-professional basketball league based solely in Wisconsin. The league is home to local legends and renowned coaches.
“This past year we were able to expand to the semi-pro level and we were presented with the opportunity to join the Wisconsin Basketball League,” Singleton says. “So we are excited about that.”
They hosted tryouts in November of 2020.
“I had a pretty good turnout for the tryouts. I think there were over 120 athletes total who eventually registered and tried out,” Singleton remembers. “We started practicing two times a week heading into the winter. We’re already nine games into the season right now.”
Singleton says the Dynasty just signed former badger basketball star Trevon Hughes.
Wisconsin Dynasty does not receive any governmental or grant assistance to keep its program thriving so it relies upon the revenue that comes in through the families that pay the fee, along with generous community members and businesses.
“There are different types of things we do to raise money. We’ve done fundraisers at places like the Wisconsin Brewing Company. We’ve had Walking Tacos, Sno Cones… We generally do that stuff in July and August for the youth to offset as much of the fees as we can for the following travel season,” Singleton says.
“Typically, we are fundraising in efforts to hopefully provide either a scholarship for one athlete at each age group or two partial scholarships for athletes at each age group,” he adds. “We also fundraise to put a lump sum in initially to the pot to lower the fees for everybody participating.”
Singleton says that young people interested in getting involved in Wisconsin Dynasty should email him at [email protected].
“I will definitely give them a solid background on what we’re all about. There are kids that participate in our travel basketball but still want to come to our trainings in the off-season. So we have relationships with kids from outside of our program, as well, just on the personal training side,” he says. “People who are interested in Wisconsin Dynasty can also check out our website.
“What’s really rewarding to me about this program is watching the players’ skill development and the coaches’ growth from the first year coaching to the third year coaching,” he adds. “I love to see so many of these great athletes also taking care of things in the classroom. It makes your heart smile.”