Are AAU Teams Mandatory to be Recruited?

AAU basketball tournaments are the norm during the summer months. Many competitive high school basketball players find their way onto the roster of an AAU team. These teams definitely seek out the best talent because AAU coaches want to have the cream of the crop. These teams are constantly going from place to place, leading to greater exposure for a player, as well as picking up favorable training skills and networking.

Parents of student athletes might want to know if playing for an AAU team is truly necessary to be recruited. If the ultimate goal is to play college basketball, will skipping AAU hurt your respective chances?

There isn’t a simple definitive answer to how recruitment works. It’s a complex process and many coaches utilize different methods to find the best available players. Does that mean AAU basketball tournaments aren’t hotbeds for college coaches during the summer months? Of course not. There is way too much talent on the floor.

Does that mean your student athlete will get noticed just because they participate in AAU? They may or may not. Coaches may already know the players they are checking out when they travel to these tournaments. However, they may find other great athletes by accident. Not many will have the time to watch every game with multiple going on at the same time.

Here are some reasons why AAU basketball can help and some possible alternatives to consider.

Exposure

College coaches are aware that basketball talent will be available in masses at AAU basketball tournaments. Many will go to a tournament with several blue chip kids in mind. They may also have several other potential targets they want to see in person. AAU basketball isn’t as structured as the sport during the high school season. Coaches often utilize the AAU season to talk, network, and establish ties with recruits. They can assess talent to some degree, but that isn’t the bulk of their visit. An AAU basketball tournament is always a showcase of talent, which can be good or bad depending on who you ask.

Basketball Training Skills

AAU basketball teams have a bad reputation for not practicing that often during the summer months. Former NBA player and current coach Steve Kerr believes AAU teams aren’t doing the right things. AAU teams might work on game type situations and various basketball skills training. Some NBA players and former greats don’t think that training is enough. Kobe Bryant is among those. He thinks AAU sells short on teaching kids “the fundamentals of the game.”

An AAU team either hosts tournaments or travels to other destinations to play other AAU squads. Depending on a family situation, an AAU basketball experience could be costly.

Parents might opt for other options like basketball camps. Hoop Group has been providing such camps for decades. Players like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden have all participated in Hoop Group. Hoop Group offers fundamental learning lessons like ball handling and shooting camps, point guard school, and dead eye shooting factory. This might be an alternative to AAU based on skills methodology.

Networking

Networking is a valuable part of the recruiting process. Kids and parents are anxious to meet coaches and get an assessment of their talent. They want to get that pat on the back and feel good about their abilities. They want to understand if they can play college basketball. An on the spot critique can be invaluable.

What often gets lost in the shuffle is the ability to network with coaches. AAU tournaments don’t always offer the greatest atmosphere to introduce yourself to coaches. They may be watching intensely with a chart and pen. They may also be talking and spending time with various AAU coaches or the players they covet. College coaches might also be hanging out with one another and conversing as well.

It’s hard to interrupt and get that quality one on one time or even make an introduction. It’s important for young athletes to figure out a way to network before tournaments.

An alternative might be to create your own “online resume” during the summer months. Parents and student athletes may want to create a social media presence which includes highlights, statistics, and future schedules. They may also want to have a video reel available by hard copy they can deliver to the coach. That reel should consist of an edited three to four minute montage of the best plays of that player. A point guard’s video would be drastically different from a power forward’s video because they should showcase their passing ability. A center’s video would be completely different from a two guard, etc. The video needs to have the player spot shadowed throughout so coaches don’t have to guess which player they are assessing.

Overall, AAU basketball gives kids the opportunity to compete and get more potential exposure from coaches. Those wanting to improve specific basketball skills over the summer months may want to consider camps in addition to playing AAU. They’ll get more individual coaching and the opportunity to work on more fundamentals so they can excel during the next high school season. AAU will give your student athlete an amazing amount of repetition on the floor. The big question parents should be asking is will it give my child the valuable basketball fundamentals they need leading into their next school year.

Pooley’s Picks – 2016 PSA Prep School Showcase

Pooley’s Picks

2016 PSA Prep School Showcase

Qualifications:  This week we’ll have a little different approach to Pooley’s Picks.  Often, with working at the Hoop Group, I’ll get to travel and see different events.  This past weekend I was able to get down to The Hill School and watch the 2016 PSA Prep School Showcase.  The event was loaded with coaches, talent, and great moments. The following are a selection of the Top 10 things I took away from the showcase.

Picks are in no particular order. Please enjoy the fourth installment of Pooley’s Picks.

Chase Audige: The 6’4″ junior from Hill was very impressive in the win over Isaiah Christopher Academy.  Chase had some electrifying plays, but was also a consistent scorer willing passer.  The wing is quickly going from a high potential kid, to a star.  Look for Chase to continue to develop over the next year and look for Hill to have an extremely successful year under coach Seth Eilberg.

 

 

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Tyler Jones: The 5’11” senior from Peddie had 20 in an overtime win against Canada Top Flight Academy.  The guard can do it all, and has a much improved jump shot with excellent form and rotation.  Tyler earned his MVP late in the game scoring crucial buckets and running the show.  Thus far uncommitted: Tyler may be a guard that could be on a lot of scholarship schools radars as the HS season draws to a close.

Canada Top Flight Academy (Ottawa) at the 2016 PSA Prep School Showcase

Canada Top Flight Academy (Ottawa) at the 2016 PSA Prep School Showcase

International Flavor:  The 2016 PSA Prep Showcase featured a little basketball from our friends to the north.  Canada Top Flight Academy probably didn’t have their best showing but kept Peddie on the ropes into overtime.  2017 Lual Akot impressed, hitting a couple of deep threes and flushing a couple dunks in traffic.  Overall CTA came down and represented well.  Look forward to see what they have to offer as the season continues.

 

 

Walter Whyte: The 6’6″ BU bound guard was tough as he always is.  Carrying St. Luke’s at times, Walter rebounds, scores, handles to ball, and plays defense.  The senior also did what seniors have to do: lead.  Walter was under control and facilitated Coach Gladstone’s game plan all night. An impressive win for St. Luke’s against a talented and well coached Hun School.

 

 

Mohammad Bamba: The 6’11” uncommitted senior is the real deal.  The entire Westtown team is the real deal.  Going up against a very good St. James team Mo looked like the NBA prospect that he is.  He blocked shots, scored, rebounded, and most importantly looked comfortable after coming back from injury.  He really is fun to watch.  Worth the trip to the 2016 PSA Prep Showcase just for him.  Lucky for us there was much more.

 

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The Venue: The Hill School was the perfect venue for the 2016 PSA Prep School Showcase.  The gym has a throwback feel, with excellent baskets and a redone floor.  Looks a little like a gym out of the movie Hoosiers with one high rise set of bleachers separated from the court by a 3 foot high padded wall.  On top of that the event felt full, but not crowded, and was loud with a good atmosphere during the close games.

 

 

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View from the packed coaches section at the 2016 PSA Prep School Showcase

College Coaches:  The 2016 PSA Prep Showcase was loaded with college coaches.  An entire area of the bleachers was dedicated to the college recruiters and it was close to full for every game.  D1, D2, D3, JUCO, and scouts were all on hand to take a look at some of the top talent.  John Calipari, NCAA defending champ Jay Wright, Buzz Williams, Fran Dunphy, and Phil Martelli, were among the few who evaluated and scouted.

 

 

Hamidou Diallo: The 6’6″ senior is as sought after as anyone.  Up to #11 in the class of 2017, “Hami” got to the rim all night long.  The explosive guard is one of those players who can score in a variety of ways and create energy on the defensive end of the floor.

 

 

Atmosphere: First, the college coaches, next the fans, then the players, this had it all.  There was just an atmosphere of elite basketball and the feel that you get from seeing kids in HS who will be on TV in a few years.  NERR’s National Prep Showcase always signals the start of high school basketball for me.  This event had a similar feel to me: teams early in their season competing at a high level.

 

 

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Noah Collier, 6’7″ at Westtown, a top 2020 at the 2016 PSA Prep School Showcase

The Freshman: Not necessarily something you think of when talking about a Prep Showcase.  However, the freshman that I got to see in limited minutes were excellent.  Westtown’s Noah Collier is a great kid, with a ton of upside, who can play multiple positions.  His ceiling is exceptionally high, and he even knocked down a couple jumpers.  Seth Berger’s son, backup guard TJ Berger, played limited minutes but showed a lot of potential on and off the ball.  Backcourt mate Seyon Kpaan, looked good in some extended minutes.  Niels Lane played more minutes for a freshman on a Hun School team than I’ve seen.  Coach Stone has some confidence in that youngster, who moves well and has a good feel for the game.  Much better 2020 representation than you would think with so many talented upperclassmen.

 

Special Thanks to Hoop Major for the videos and helping me cover the event in this article.  Ian Finnen is a rising star, and is going to be very good at whatever he decides to do.

Special shout out to Terrence Williams and the rest of the PSA Cardinals family for running a great event and being so media friendly.  Look forward to this event in the years moving forward.

 

And of course as always, everybody’s favorite:

Philadelphia Top 100 Recap

 

Philadelphia Top 100 Recap

With over 100 great high school players and 25 college coaches from all over the northeast in attendance, the Philadelphia Top 100 did not disappoint! Players were given the opportunity to compete against some of the best that Philly has to offer, while receiving instruction from our top-notch staff comprised of D2, D3, and high school coaches.

Each player was given the opportunity to play in front of over 25 college coaches, as well as the National Recruiting Report, which has over 300 subscribers from every level of college basketball. There is no individual event that can provide student-athletes with the level of instruction, competition, and exposure that the Hoop Group Top 100’s provide!

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All-Philadelphia Top 100

Position  Player
Guard Antonio Rizzuto (Northeastern HS)
Guard Lonnie Walker (’17 Reading HS)
Wing Max Duegen (’17 Rocktop Academy)
Wing Tyrone Nesby (’17  Reading HS)
Forward Justin Steers (’18 Friends Central)
Post Rodney Simon (’17 Rocktop Academy)

 

Check out our upcoming Top 100 dates! 

 

Questions to Be Answered @ NJ Jam Fest

Team Champion & MVP awards ready to be handed out this weekend at NJ #HGJamFest

A photo posted by Hoop Group (@hoopgroup) on

Before the ball is tipped in the air early Saturday morning there are few questions we are looking forward to be answered by the end of Sunday…

1) Will the NY teams excel in the 14U divison?

The 14u Division is riddled with premier New York programs. PSA Cardinals and NYC Jayhawks are programs known nationally, not just in the state. And Team Twelve is a team that no one wants to run into in the tournament. Will the 14u championship go to a New York powerhouse? Or will a sleeper like the CJ Jammers make a championship run?

2) Can the 15U NJ Roadrunners make it 3 in a row @ Hoop Group Headquarters?

The New Jersey Roadrunners 15u team has been hot in Hoop Group Showdowns lately. The program has grown accustomed to walking into a HGHQ and walking out with a trophy. Their previous two championships saw final wins over New Heights. While New York team is not in the Spring Showdown, there are a number of teams who can take their place in the final, such as PSA Cardinals, Jersey Shore Warriors, NYC Jayhawks and NY Gauchos. If the Roadrunners plan on making it a three peat, look for their MVPs Casmir Ochiaka and Jahid Jenkins to lead the charge. One thing’s for sure, it will not be an easy task.

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3) How will the programs traveling from Canada (S- Elite and A.D.I.C.T. Stars) perform?

It’s no surprise seeing a team from the North make their way to a Hoop Group event, but this weekend may give us some of the best Canadian talent we’ve seen. Christian David is a name you will hear early and often. A 6’5 shooter playing for S-Elite, David has a quick release and a tremendous IQ on the floor. He already holds offers from Baylor, Illinois, Oregon, among others. Will he help lead his team to a championship? Will S-Elite and A.D.I.C.T. take the NJ Jam Fest by storm? We’re eager to find out.

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4) Will the 2015 Pitt Jam Fest 16U Champions – Jersey Shore Warriors be challenged?

Talk about another team that has been hot in Hoop Group tournaments, the Jersey Shore Warriors might be the favorites this weekend to take home the championship. The Warriors are looking to use a successful April, where they won both the Spring and Pitt Jam Fest 16u championships, to jumpstart them in May. The Warriors are led by guard Talek Williams and forward Taylor Funk.

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5) Can the 17U NY Gauchos win it all this time around?

The NY Gauchos have found a ton of success on Saturday’s this Spring at Hoop Group Showdowns. Going 2-0, and rolling into Sunday with championship aspirations. At the Spring Showdown, the Chos lost a hard fought battle vs the NJ Roadrunners. Will this weekend be different? Do they have what it takes to take home a 17u championship? Only time will tell.

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6) What players will carry their team over the hump in the 15U?

In a pool as deep as the 15u pool is, it’s going to take some big time plays from some big time players for teams to advance. Darius Kinnel (New Jersey Force), Aaron Clarke (PSA Cardinals), Danny Frauenheim (NJ Shoreshots) and Donovan Ryland and Lorenzo Spinnazzi (Team JLA), Chris Arcidiacono & Michael Hagan (PA Rebels) to help lead their teams through this tough pool.

7) Will any new programs to the stage make a splash?

We have a few new faces coming to the Hoop Group Showdown this weekend. Team Nationals (MD) and 023 Feet (VA) are making their way up from the south, and Brooklyn Promenade and IHZ Elite are newcomers as well. How will these new squads fair at HGHQ?

8) How will the CT programs do?

Adding to the loaded 15u Division are the CT Stars and CT Select. How will these two teams fair this weekend? The Stars tip off against the NY Gauchos in their first game, and Select has a 4:35 pm start time against Team JLA. Tough match ups for both, how much noise will our CT teams make this weekend?

The stage is set. Let’s see who will rise to the challenge and who will come out of Hoop Group Headquarters as New Jersey Jam Fest Champions!

Schedule Updates Throughout the Tournament: NJ Jam Fest Game Schedule

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