During Alumni Reunion Weekend we recognized RectoryAlumni and faculty at the Alumni Dinner and Awards Ceremony. Danté Milligan '99 was the first alumni inductee into Rectory School's Athletic Wall of Honor, following Brad Seaward. Here is Headmaster, Fred William's speech.
"Mr. Seaward is surely the most fitting first inductee into Rectory School's Athletic Wall of Honor, and Danté Milligan, as Brad's most accomplished basketball player, is the most appropriate person to follow our legendary coach. Like Coach Seaward, Danté has had a passion for athletics since he first arrived on the Rectory campus in 1997. So much so that his eighth grade Rectory advisor suggested maybe he shouldn't be so competitive in his sports as Danté could get a bit worked up on the court. Fortunately, Danté did not heed this advice and his drive to improve himself and his game has resulted in an impressive career that is still in some ways in its infancy.
Danté's athletic prowess was evident on day one at Rectory, where, while he waited for his beloved basketball season to come he excelled at cross country, refusing to let Priscilla Army beat him, and football. In the spring he eventually became captain of the track team and a standout high jumper. But the winter months offered Dante's greatest joy: basketball. As Coach Seaward noted at the conclusion of Danté's 8th grade year, "he was a tremendous addition to the team with outstanding offensive moves." Coach Seaward went on to suggest Danté put a bit more effort into his defense if he wanted to take his game to the next level; Danté surely listened. The Most Improved member of the team his first year and the captain and MVP his second, Danté put a profound stamp on his Rectory basketball years, and on Rectory basketball as a whole. Since Danté, scores of Boys Club young man have come to Rectory to pursue an education and further their athletic interests. But Danté was the first. And without a successful first run there might very well not have been a second.
After Rectory, Danté polished his game at first Episcopal School in Alexandria, VA, and then Trinity-Pawling where he lettered two seasons. While at TP Danté was selected to the All-New England, All-Founders Conference and Tri-State All League teams. He was also named McDonalds All America honorable mention as a senior when he led Trinity-Pawling to a 24-3 record along with Founders League and Tri-State League titles. Ranked No. 28 among HoopScoop national recruits, as graduation approached Danté was highly sought after by top college programs. Initially enrolling at Pittsburgh and being a part of a team that made it to the NCAA sweet sixteen, Danté joined the UMass men's basketball team as a transfer following a coaching change at Pitt.
While at UMass Danté's work ethic and strong post play resulted in individual and team success. In his senior year at UMass Danté served as team captain and led the Minuteman to the NIT final where they eventually lost to Ohio State in a closely fought contest. On route to the championship game, Danté led the team by recording the second highest single season field goal percentage in UMass history. With that stepped up defense Coach Seaward called for, he also recorded 100 blocks in his career ranking him 9th in UMass history in this category. In more dramatic fashion, Danté dunked home the go-ahead basket with 27 seconds left to lift UMass to 22-point second-half comeback at Syracuse in NIT Quarterfinals, and finished with a Double-double and ESPN Player of the Game Honors in NIT Semifinal vs. Florida. Danté was selected to the NIT All Tournament Team that year.
Following graduation, Danté played professionally in France, Israel, China, the Dominican Republic and Colombia. He also played two seasons in the NBA D-League with the Springfield Armor, Oklahoma City Blue and the Canton Charge. Realizing his playing days were coming to an end, but not wanting to leave the sport he loves, Danté is currently a graduate assistant at St. Louis University, where he is earning a Master's Degree in Higher Education Administration. His plan is to become a Division one coach.
Danté is being inducted tonight due to his athletic success, but the most impactful athletes are known for far more than athletic prowess. This is surely the case for Danté. While at Rectory, Danté was most known for his leadership traits and the positive presence he had on campus. Early on Danté spoke of how important his education was to his future aspirations and served as a role model for his peers. Tragically, Danté lost his brother, whom he identifies as having the greatest impact on his life, to a random shooting in 2005. In response to this event, Danté created the Alonzo Milligan Mentorship Award in 2005, which provides scholarship money to students in alliance with the Children's Aid Society of New York. Further showcasing his commitment to kids, Danté has worked at New York Knicks summer camps and is part of Basketball Stars of New York, which provides private basketball lessons for children aged 6-18. He also calls his old coach, Mr. Seaward, every year on his birthday.
In reflecting back on his basketball career, Danté believes the best advice he ever received from a coach was: Just go out there and play. In fact, we believe that is the offense Coach Seaward has been running for years. It is clear that across his athletic years, Danté has lived up to this charge and has given his all while doing so. In the process, Danté has become a great role model for the young athletes who seek to follow in his footsteps and a great representive of Rectory School. For all your success on and off the court, with more accomplishments to come, and notwithstanding the fact you would choose the Knicks over the Celtics if offered a spot in the NBA, Rectory is proud to induct our first graduate into the School's Athletic Wall of Honor. Congratulations, Danté Milligan."