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A handful of foreign prospects and some from closer to home were served a sordid slice of American pie by a South Charleston, W.Va. academy which purported to be a landing pad of top basketball talent. Many officials are now claiming that the West Virginia Prep Academy, which was scheduled to open on Tuesday after permits had been filed by former college basketball player Daniel Hicks, who is pictured above, was nothing more than a fraudulent enterprise aimed at generating quick cash for Hicks himself.

As first investigated by the Charleston Gazette, the purported school, West Virginia Prep Academy, received $500 enrollment fees from just seven students, but 18 were living together in a tiny, three bedroom apartment in South Charleston when officials discovered them.

“When I got there we had to stay in a three room apartment, but we were promised to get beds, get fed three times a day, have our clothes washed,” Baltimore teenager Corey Saunders, the first player at the school to speak publicly, told Prep Rally for a forthcoming story. “None of that happened. We were left at the gym three hours a day, had to get food for ourselves.

“A lot of players there didn’t have a lot of money. We had to spend our own money for food. It was just bad. Once we got there we were finding out more things about his background. He had gone to jail for fraud, drugs. He had brought in coaches that he thought could land big players, but was telling them things on fraud.”

After the teenagers were found in the apartment, the teens were put up at the nearby Ramada hotel after city officials reached out to the hotel’s owner and explained the predicament the basketball players were in.

The Gazette and the Associated Press reported that both local police forces and the FBI were in the process of opening up investigations into Hicks himself.

“This is very complex and we’re just breaking the iceberg on a lot of it,” South Charleston Police Chief Brad Rinehart told the Gazette. “We’ve spoken with the on-duty prosecutor. This could be a federal issue, or a state issue, and that’s something we’re trying to determine.

Hicks continues to insist that his goal was always to bring a new, positive academic and basketball setting to South Charleston.

“They didn’t have just your average basketball players,” South Charleston City Manager Carlton Lee told the Gazette. “I watched them play and the kids from France and Africa are NBA material.