Many fans of high school and college basketball have a basic understanding as
to what AAU basketball is. For those of you that don't, it will be defined.
For those of that do, reasons will be explored as to its positive nature, and
after the first goal is complete, all of you will know what it is. So this
article is for you!!
I am speaking in terms of seasons as it relates to Indiana, which has a high
school season that lasts from the first Monday following October 15 of each
year, until the last weekend in March, culminating at the Hoosier Dome with a
state champion--well, 4 champs this year. In early April, the AAU season
Amatuer Athletic Union (AAU) is a broad based athletic program, which is first
and foremost a precursor for the Olympics, which used to be the last bastion
of amatuer athletics. Since the 1980's, AAU has receieved most of its
attention in the sport of basketball. The culmination of AAU each year is
Nationals, which is conducted in each grade starting with the 4th grade,
working up to the Senior in high school level.
What makes AAU a primetime attraction is the relationship it has with the
college coaches of the NCAA. Players that are entering their senior year of
high school play in what is called, Junior Boys. This for the most part
constitutes the catelog of talent that a college can hopefully select.
However, unlike a catelog, there is only one of each item. It's not like
there is an inventory of Luke Reckers laying around. This is where AAU is at
its most fun. This is where AAU is at its most intense. This is where AAU is
at its most controverisal.
Starting from the 4th grade up until the 8th grade, AAU is usually an
extension of their school ball season. Mostly run by parents, the focus is on
equal playing time for every kid. As more and more high school coaches get
involved during the summer, the emphasis turns toward development of skills to
be honed for high school basketball.
AAU has developed itself into a major source of recruiting for college
coaches, especially during the month of July. There are many major
tournaments, most of which are regional, that both head and assistant college
coaches flock to. The one we attend is the Kentucky Prep in Louisville.
There are however, 2 major national tournaments that host the elite talent in
the nation on a given week in July--Las Vegas and Augusta, Georgia. The month
of July culminates during the last full week of July in Orlando with AAU
Nationals. A college coach is lucky to see his family during the month of
There are many reasons why AAU coaches do what they do. They like to teach
basketball. They like to coach basketball--big difference. They like the
talent that they coach. They like to assist young men into the next step of
basketball. These are the motives that a parent should look for in an AAU
The motives they should try to avoid are the ones who do it for winning or
recognition. Some AAU coaches latch on to their players and use them for
leverage. Some AAU coaches make promises they can't keep. They like to cater
their coaching skills to the college coach. Sometimes these are hard to see.
I coach both high school basketball and AAU basketball, but I started in AAU.
I have been accused of what I described in the paragraph above. When you are
looking for an AAU team, program or coach, just make sure you ask all the
questions you want. If he feels uncomfortable answering them, or he gives you
a vague answer, you should just move on to another team. If he promises your
son the world, you should just move on to another team. If he can be direct
with you in his answers, then this is the team for your son.
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