What Age Should Kids Start Playing Sports?

When should your child start playing basketball? It’s a difficult question to answer and there’s many opinions out there. To determine whether your child should start playing, it’s a good idea to hear what professionals and other parents are thinking. It is also important to think about how playing can impact your child.

A Doctor’s View

If you’re really concerned about when your child should start playing, it’s probably a good idea to figure out what the professionals think. Medical professionals are generally in favor of children being active, but they warn that various sports require different levels of development. Your child is probably ready to run, swim, or play catch when he or she is very young. An organized sport like basketball though, isn’t going to come until later. A summer youth basketball league or a youth basketball camp might be fun at six, but you might want to wait for more in-depth basketball skills training or a real league until your child is after the age of ten.

Critics and Boosters

As with so many things related to parenting, you’re going to find a lot of arguments between supporters and opponents. There are some who want to start kids as early as possible, noting that they’ll get the chance to have once in a lifetime experiences when they’re young. On the other hand, there are people who think that starting kids young is just putting too much pressure on the child. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that can be said to dissuade either side – and both sides have solid evidence to support their views.

The Difference in Leagues

Of course, there’s also a huge difference in how kids play sports. Experts already talk about the insanity that can surround kids’ sports at the higher end, but that doesn’t apply everywhere. Putting your seven year old in summer youth basketball is fine – just don’t make him or her play in front of scouts. It’s just as important to know the expectations for your child, as it is to know what sport your child is going to play.

Knowing Your Child

One of the best pieces of advice is that you have to know your child. Some children are ready to play sports earlier than others. If your child shows that he or she has good hand-eye coordination and is ready to play in a group, give him or her a chance to play. If your child isn’t interested, don’t be forceful. No matter what anyone else says, you can only start a child on a sport once ready to play.

There’s no real agreement on when a child can start playing sports. Doctors think team sports should start after age six, but some children are ready earlier and others are ready later. If you’re not sure when your child should start, try out a skills camp – it will give you a better idea of where he or she is developmentally.

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.

Five Games to Watch in this Year’s Pac-12

Pac-12 Basketball

With the recent release of the Pac-12 Conference’s schedule for the upcoming 2017-2018 season, let’s take a look at some of the more exciting matchups.

Oregon Arizona

1. Oregon @ Arizona (Week of Jan. 10)

Possibly the most anticipated game of the Pac-12 season, Oregon and Arizona ended last year as the conference’s co-champions. Needless to say, this game is a must win in the eyes of both teams; beyond the contest, each roster has something to prove. Arizona may be looking like the stronger team as the season approaches, but undoubtedly both squads return this year with depth, talent, and an itch to show who deserved the crown of the Pac-12 more last year.

USC UCLA

2. USC @ UCLA (Week of Jan. 31)

The classic Golden State matchup, USC v. UCLA never disappoints. USC may be looking forward to the matchup more so this year, now that Lonzo Ball’s dominance has moved just a short way down the road to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, with UCLA’s return of Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh, the Trojans will be no easy challenge to overcome. Bleacher Report preseason rankings finds USC at number ten, thanks to the return of Bennie Boatwright, Chimezie Metu, and Shaquan Aaron. If USC has plans of joining the conference’s elite this season, beating rival UCLA is a good place to start.

UCLA Arizona

3. UCLA @ Arizona, USC @ Arizona State (Week of Feb. 7)

The combination of four powerhouse Pac-12 teams, not just two, highlights this week as one of the most anticipated of the season. While we know the talent that USC, UCLA, and Arizona will be returning is bound to be strong this season, ASU’s squad cannot be overlooked, and will certainly pose a threat to the Trojans, as USC heads to ASU’s home court. With one of the highest scoring backcourts in the Pac-12, the Sun Devils will utilize the ability of their combination of guards to score from the outside, as well as pester the Trojans with under the rim talent.

ASU Arizona

4. Arizona @ Arizona State (Week of Feb. 14)

More commonly known in the southwest as the Duel in the Desert, this fierce rivalry mirrors that of USC and UCLA. No matter what the difference in talent is between these two teams, this game will always be interesting. This year, fans are lucky enough to have two teams that are not worlds apart for the most part. Both sides have talented players returning, and neophytes waiting to be tested. Realistically, Arizona does have the better team–all the reason that their matchup away at ASU is just a bit more anticipated.

Stanford Cal

5. California @ Stanford (Week of Dec. 27)

Ok, so maybe people have their doubts about California; granted, they did have quote an exodus of talent at the end of last season. However, they have a lot of potential to be a good team if they use it correctly. A new head coach means a new coaching style, which means confusion for opponents. Playing against a new coach in college basketball can often leave teams just as baffled as playing against new players. Returning players include defensive threat Kingsley Okoroh, as well as Kentucky transfer Marcus Lee, whose scoring ability will have to be put to good use if Cal wants to see a chance at beating Stanford.

Twitter: @andrew_mck11

Tyree Pickron Commits to Quinnipiac

 

Tyree Pickron committed to the University of Quinnipiac Thursday night, choosing the Bobcats over Stony Brook and Bowling Green. Pickron, the Archbishop Wood product, is the first commitment in the class of 2018 for first year head coach Baker Dunleavy. “I just went with a gut decision and just rolled with that.”  Pickron told CoBL in an interview. Having taken the Quinnipiac job in March, Dunleavy’s first commit is a great one in Pickron.

I first saw Tyree Pickron at the Spring Philadelphia Junior Elite at Competitive Edge Sports after he finished his freshman year at Archbishop Wood. One of the older players in attendance, Pickron dominated the competition and made things look easy, rightfully so. He was someone you made a note to keep an eye on at future events. In addition, I saw him multiple times at Elite Camp and various Jam Fest tournaments and High School Showcases.

Tyree Pickron spent many years rising above competition at Hoop Group events, including winning MVP at the Reading Showcase

That same knack for scoring that I first saw at Competitive Edge never left. He is a bucket getter. He is a great knock down shooter with a silky smooth stroke. Over his high school career, Pickron has improved his overall offensive game. He’s gotten better at getting to the rim and finishing in ways that defenders cannot block his shot. And he’s not a one-dimensional player. While his shooting is his strength, Pickron is a good passer and strong defender as well.

The 2017-18 season will be Tyree’s 4th year starting for Archbishop Wood. The freshman I once saw who started on a senior heavy team is now the seasoned veteran. In his time at Wood, Pickron saw a rise in the team’s success, and looks to continue in his final season. It will not be easy to top his junior year, however. The Vikings are coming off a 28-3 season which saw them win Catholic League, District 12 and PIAA state titles. While it may be tough to top last season, expect Wood to be competitive again in Philadelphia.

The commitment of Pickron is a great start for a Quinnipiac team looking to change their culture under a new coach. He brings an all around game, commitment to work, and a competitiveness that will thrive in the MAAC.

ACC Games To Watch for Upcoming 2017-18 Season

With the basketball season right around the corner, starting Nov. 10, let’s break down some highlighted games and match-ups in one of the most talented, lethal conferences – the ACC.

A few exhibition games here and there, we won’t see action as a collective until the 19th annual Big 10/ACC Challenge Nov. 27-30. The conference leads the Big Ten in the challenge, 11-5-2.

ACC conference play

The ACC starts conference play Dec. 9, when Duke travels to Boston College. Don’t expect a riveting contest between the Eagles and the Blue Devils. Boston College has finished dead last the past two season, and they had an infamous 0-18 conference play record during the 2015-16 season. The battle begins in a conference that has won eight of the last 17 NCAA Championship Tournaments and combined for 63 Final Four appearances.

Tough proving ground for the faint-hearted.

The following match ups are in chronological order as the season progresses and give fans some excitement to look forward to.

Virginia at Virginia Tech –  Wednesday, January 3rd

Why not highlight a showdown between the two in-state teams. Virginia is looking to find its identity again on the road. Last year Virginia Tech topped off Virginia in a double overtime game in Blacksburg. It may be a down year for Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers, which will make this rivalry all the more interesting during the 17-18 season. 

North Carolina at Notre Dame – Saturday, January 13th

Any game that pits two of the most talented players in the conference head-to-head. Joel Berry II is an all-around stud, when healthy. He is an early favorite to win ACC Player of the Year. But Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson, another favorite to win the PoY, is going to protect his house when the Tar Heels come to town.

Duke at Miami – Monday, January 15th

Miami is a contender in the ACC. This isn’t news. They won the ACC title in 2013, and they see no reason why this year isn’t their year. Highly touted freshman Lonnie Walker is recovering from a knee injury, but should be back by the start of the season and fully healthy by this game. The game is highlighted because Duke is favored to win the ACC with their talented group of incoming freshman, giving the Hurricanes the ultimate proving ground early in conference play. Duke will look to outplay with talent in order to overcome a more experienced, sized Miami team.

Louisville at Miami – Wednesday, January 24th

Miami could have momentum coming into this contest if they manage a win at home against Duke. Louisville’s season is going to start with distraction, as Rick Pitino will be suspended the first five games for an off the court scandal. In early season polls, Miami sits atop of the Cardinals, who while was a No. 2 seed in last year’s tournament lost a key piece in Donovan Mitchell.

Duke at UNC – Thursday, February 8th

It’s the rivalry game we as basketball fans wait all season for. It’s part one of the epic saga between two powerhouse programs, separated by the 10-mile stretch on Tobacco Road. This game will be a perfect gauge of talent among the two programs. For obvious reasons, this game is going to draw the attention of the entire NCAA, not just the ACC. 

Last season’s results: Duke topped UNC, 86-78, at Cameron while the Tar Heels had the final say at home, closing out the season with a 90-83 win.

Louisville at Duke – Wednesday, February 21st

This is a big test for Louisville. The Cardinals look for a pair of wins in thee days against UNC and Duke. Two wins would give Louisville a boost up in polls and nods for better seeding in the tournament. While back to back games against UNC and Duke is never easy, the Cards have a veteran team capable of handling this tough test. It won’t be an easy year for the Cardinals. Hopefully they have talent to back up the team.

UNC at Duke – Saturday, March 3rd

The battle on Tobacco Road part two is a hands-down, no-brainer hyped game. Why not save the best for last. UNC not only has to take on a prolific Blue Devils team, but they have to keep their focus in one of the most legendary gyms in Cameron Indoor. At this point in the season, you can expect the two teams to be vying for the best eye bid. It will be a challenge to take on the Crazies at home. Not to mention it’s senior night for Grayson Allen. Talk about your momentum. 

Player watch list:

  • Joel Berry II, UNC

  • Deng Adel, Louisville

  • Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame

  • Grayson Allen, Duke

  • Bruce Brown, Miami

  • Marvin Bagley, Duke