I once told a group of kids that one day the NCAA would shut down summer basketball. I said, if the AAU coaches, parents and players don’t police themselves, they are going to destroy the very thing they love.
I’ve always like the summer camp format for coaches and kids. The Hoop Group for example runs the best summer exposure camps in America, folks it’s not even up for debate. Their camps are more than about just basketball, these camps teach responsibility, like getting to places on time. This may not sound like much until, that is until a young man has to manage their time at the next level. Its then player and coach appreciate the lessons learned at the Hoop Group camps. Players, get so much skill work, that they can’t help but to improve in their time at camp. The players rub elbows with College coaches, who are more truthful with kids about what their strength and weakness are in there game. I love that kids are forced out of there comfort zone and have to mix with kids from different cities, states and countries. This allows a kid to mature a little and learn a little about life outside their communities. Finally I love that it’s not life and death for a kid at camp. The competition is tough, but you have time to get into a playing groove. You don’t have to show your entire game in one half. You can build on a performance though-out the week. It’s okay to pass the ball and play as a team. One game is not going to break you, but it could make you. The camp situation for all is best…the problem on the girl’s side, is there are NO camps.
There was a time when the best female players in the country came to the Pocono’s. We are talking Hall of Fame greats. The names would take forever to list. But more importantly, it was a chance for young girls to make friends, be together and make memories. Now that still goes on today but it’s NOT during the live recruiting period and it’s a darn shame. This was a healthy environment for kids to grow into strong, self-confidence women. To this day anyone who has gone to the Pocono’s will say it was the highlight of their basketball summer…ask any girl who has attended one of these camps, this summer and they will say it was their highlight. This is not talk folks…its real
Why do I bring all this up? Because folks AAU basketball is in major trouble and that’s not talk either. The NCAA is getting ready to pass some serious rules that could affect everyone. All the wonderful things I just brought up about camps, for the most do not exist in AAU. We now have a situation where kids are playing too many games. Parents think nothing of changing teams every year and folks it’s the parents 99% of the time, players with bad attitudes and ego’s before they even play a high school game. When college coaches are texting me questioning the attitude of an 8th grader at a live event.…something is wrong. When college coaches text about kids playing on 3 and 4 AAU teams in the same summer, something is wrong. When AAU coaches practice 3-5 days a week and play 4-5 games on the weekend, something is wrong. When parents are afraid of AAU coaches who are controlling their child’s every movement, something is wrong. When the good kids suffer for being loyal, while disloyal players and parents take advantage of the system to their benefit…something is wrong. When people are running AAU tryouts and practicing in August…for me that’s jumping the shark! But what’s most disappointing is this…when college coaches start saying they do not even want to watch AAU games ANYMORE…Then we have reached the be breaking point. I had a number and I am talking a big number of college coaches this summer, say these words to me “I left because it’s not worth watching”. The NCAA AND COLLEGE COACHES HAVE HAD ENOUGH!
It’s easy to blame all college basketball problems on AAU, because of a few poorly run organizations. Does anyone have a problem with Mary Beth Chambers OR the Central Jersey Hawks for example? Of course not, these are well run organizations. But the few poorly run organizations ruin it for everyone. Now the NCAA is talking about taking AWAY MORE DAYS IN JULY. They are considering having are you ready? TWO WEEKENDS IN THE SUMMER…THAT’S IT FOLKS. They are discussing adding a weekend in September, but one very famous college Women’s coach, is telling her fellow coaches to boycott any new September, recruiting weekends added to the calendar. The NCAA is also talking about taking away an April recruiting weekend…to me this is all sad. A few bad apples are ruining it for all. But it also is a case of the chickens coming home to roast.
I believe any talk of taking away recruiting days will hurt not only kids but colleges as well. Anything that limits coaches from seeing players, hurts everyone. It hurts those kids who do not play on powerhouse high school teams. It causes more transfers because of recruiting mistakes. Shorten recruiting days could affect so many young people’s lives. It also is going to cause some coaches their jobs…trust me on that one. Trust me taking away days is not the answer to AAU’S PROBLEMS. To punish kids because of adults behavior is not an answer….we need TO EDUCATE…NOT ELIMINATE. Let’s get these AAU coaches to clinics and explain why, the kids need skill work OUTSIDE their organizations. Let’s show them how to put together a healthy summer schedule. Let’s teach them what colleges, want to see when showcasing their kids. Let explain to those trying to impress us that they can coach, that winning AAU games is not the measure of a good coach…we need to TEACH AND HELP.
The Northeast Conference has proposed a rule, which would allow college coaches 57 recruiting days during the course of a year, to use at any time. I like this much better than shorten the recruiting period. Let me give you an example. Years ago college coaches would be allowed to attend NBS. It was great for everyone, coaches saw great talent. Players got great teaching and competition. The coaches saw the skill work and the attitudes. They also came back year after year and saw which kids were progressing and which ones were not. They got to see which parents were going to get them fired and which would be supportive. The 57 days would bring that all back (yes some would cheat on the days). I often say, I never make a mistake in my evaluation and it’s for one reason. I see them all the time from an early age. I know who has the work ethic, I know which kids are progressing every year, and I know the ones with the bad attitude or a great attitude. I know which ones get along with their peer and which one’s don’t. I see the Jealous ones and the good teammates, I SEE IT ALL! …WHY NOT ALLOW COLLEGE COACHES THE SAME ACCESS. One the most respected men in AAU basketball, had what I thought was the best idea of all….simply have more DEAD PERIODS. This would keep everyone happy and still allow kids to get exposure.
They tried to clean AAU up, by changing the name to grass roots basketball. Folks changing a name does not solve the problem. We need real answers, but most importantly, the very people in AAU better wake up and change. Stealing players in order to win games, parents changing teams, every time their child is unhappy or not getting enough attention, coaches playing hundreds of games, because they want to control kids and lack of skills work are issues that must be dealt with NOW…5 years ago I said “AAU is going to be dead”. Well they say people change at the PRECIPICE, well we have reached that point…because AAU is on life support right now.
***POINT GUARD SCHOOL STARTS TOMORROW…again this is a teaching camp and coaches help your kids, encourage them to learn the right way.