Sports U Team Izod Succeeding On And Off The Court

2013 Under Armour Invitational
Kelly Kline | Under Armour

Sports U Team Izod (N.J.) has become a fixture on Championship Sunday at almost every tournament they enter. With teams from the U9 level up to U17, the organization has become a model of consistency, getting some of New Jersey’s most talented players to buy into a team dynamic on the floor.
The secret?

“There is no secret.”

Ed Bright is the President/General Manager of the organization and has overseen Sports U since its creation ten years ago.

“We work hard, there are no secrets,” Bright said.

“We live by the five P’s: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.”

Founded by Bright and former NBA star Daryl Dawkins ten years ago, Sports U has become the program of choice in New Jersey. The five-P philosophy has become a staple of the organization, which Bright explains is much deeper than just basketball.

“We do a lot of off-the-court activities. We do etiquette training, leadership training, critical thinking,” the co-founder explained.

“[Players] learn how to introduce themselves, how to interview, how to introduce others.”

“I want them to see that this ball is going to stop bouncing,” Bright says about the academic side of Sports U’s mission.

“When they think about college, I want them to think about a great 40-year decision, not just a great four-year decision. That college has to impact your life for the next forty years.”

Aligned with sponsors Izod and Under Armour, Bright says that there is an inherent advantage to being a sponsored team – an advantage that the Sports U organization is very grateful to have.

“Seven, years ago, Izod loved the vision. They committed to us…We’re very grateful about where we are as a program. We’ve been blessed.”

“Obviously sponsorship means that you’re able to be in all the right places and attract more of the elite-type athlete…You can put them in this type of forum like Hoop Group. You can put them in front of 200 to 300 coaches during the live period.”

As the program has grown, so has its reputation in recruiting circles.

The organization’s 2013 class had great success on the AAU circuit and will be well-represented at the Division I level next season, with players headed to Temple, Oregon State, St. Joseph’s, Princeton, and Quinnipiac, just to name a few.

Karl Towns

Sports U Karl Towns commits to University of Kentucky. Towns is one of the top players in the country.

The Sports U 2014 class is off to a great start, as well with center Karl Towns verbally committed to Kentucky and sharpshooter Jared Nickens recently making his pledge to Maryland.

“At the end of the day, we’re able to stand at a table and I cry while they sign their national letter of intent, I cry like a baby,” Bright says.

“They can get the chance to show what we work and prepare so hard for. They buy in.”

Led by Nickens, this year’s 17U squad took home the 2013 Pitt Jam Fest championship, advanced to the semifinals of both the 2013 Philly Jam Fest and Southern Jam Fest, and recently advanced to the championship game of the Rumble in the Bronx (Sports U won the Rumble title in the 16U division).

This impressive consistency at major events is a point of pride for Bright.

“We are committed to getting better every time out. We play hard; if you’re coming into to play us, it’s going to be a 15-round fight. Because we play hard.”

Heading into the summer, the Class of 2014 could prove to be the best for Sports U yet.

Along with Towns and Nickens, guards Wade Baldwin and Tarin Smith and big man Quadri Moore are all being recruited at the high-major level. On top of those five, the roster is filled with likely Division I prospects, most of whom will be attending Hoop Group events this summer.

“Hoop Group events are the best,” Bright explains.

“You’ve got history, you’ve got professionalism, and you’ve got guys that know the game of basketball and also know how to deal with the coaches, and program directors.”

More than anything, Bright is ecstatic with the direction the program is headed and the people involved from top to bottom.

“We’ve got great kids. We’ve got the best families in the business,” Bright claims.

We’ve got tremendous sponsors in Under Armour and Izod. The head of all of our coaches – Brian Coleman – is brilliant.”

“Our young men get better as young men…There is no secret.”

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