AAU gets a bad name. Excuse me, Bobby Dodd, summer teams get a bad name, and
I can understand where the reputation arises. Living in Indiana, I am a part
of a state that produces the most AAU participates in the country, but we
don't seem to have the problems that other states have.
By problems, I am referring to out of control programs that fly in players
from other states just so they can 1) build these fabulous teams, which have
zero coaching and skill development, or 2) have some sort of influence on
where these kids go to college. Indiana kids pretty much stick to the state.
That is not to say that recruiting is not heated in Indiana.
I would say that on any given year Indiana offers six great summer basketball
programs, (alphabetical order) Bloomington Red, Evansville Gold, Indy Metros,
Spiece, SYF Players, and Tiffany's. These are the programs that offer
competition, exposure, and coaching to every player in their program.
There are other teams that have jumped and made contributions, such as No
Excuses, which currently features Jason Gardner, Indy Nets, which won a state
championship in 1993 boasting six future division one players for basketball,
and Wilson's Warriors, which is an Anderson summer program, but these teams
don't generally maintain consistant older aged teams.
These clubs typically split up the talent pool in Indiana, which makes for a
competitive situation when it comes to putting together summer teams. There
plenty of rumors goind around as to how some of these teams get their players,
especially when it comes to Spiece, but for the most part, the recruiting
comes from the mouth.
The problem arises with recruiting fundamentals. Indiana's AAU office
suggests that each summer coach goes through the high school coach to get
their players, which is most definitely the way to go. More times than not,
however, coaches don't really get involved, so they turn it over to the
parents, who in return look toward the coach for assistance. When parent,
player, high school coach, and AAU coach are all on the same, the situation is
I go through the high school coach first, unless I have already made contact
with a player through a mutual friend, which was prevelant with the team the
summer team I am coaching now. At that time, I go through parents. As an
education major, my only contact with players is to ask them how their grades
are or how they played in a game that I had to miss due to my own game. I
have tremendous support from the high school coaches of the players that I
coach, which makes going back for future players easier, and I also have the
support of their parents, which makes for a loyal player for the following
I also like to treat this similar to college recruiting. Parents and high
school coaches want to know what I am all about, as a coach and as a person.
I send new players an information packet that reflects coaching philosophy,
schedule, team rules, and some basic personal information regarding myself. I
have always felt that the more information a parent or high school coach has
on me, the more likely they will let the player play for me.
I encourage questions constantly, and I strongly take their concerns into
consideration. There have been times when I have altered how I teach due to a
suggestion of high school coach. There are times when a player needs to play
a certain position when I have said, "I can't do that." There are times when
I look to parents to see what kind of discipline their son responds to at
home. The more interaction I can have with the players, his parents and his
high school coach, the more cooperation I will have in the future. I have
found that players respond better when he knows that everyone is in agreement
that he needs to play for me.
This is all during the offseason. Once the summer season begins, I am locked
in to teaching our system. That is the way to go when it comes to recruiting
these players for the summer. There are more passive ways, which are
certainly acceptable, but what happens is you get a team that is not always as
competitive as it needs to be to satisfy the players that stick with you from
year to year. There are also more aggressive ways, which is not the way to
Here is what you need to avoid...
If you know or have given life to a kid who has grown into a tremendous
basketball player, you will see this sight frequently. A man--no names
needed, just a man--walking around a gym, sporting AAU garb (hats, nice
jackets, team shoes, shirt with team logo--basic commercial nightmare), like
he is with a college. In one hand, he has a clipboard with a list of player
rankings letting you and your child know that it was him that got your son on
that list. The clipboard is usually in his left hand, so he can shake your
He'll talk about players, tournaments, and how they are going to run and gun.
He'll promise your son everything, a starting spot, cool uniforms, shoes,
being ranked higher on the list in his hand, or maybe even a college
scholarship. He might even tell you why you shouldn't play for another team
(if this ever happens, run) He will never tell you how he is going to teach
to improve your son, but he will be quick to tell you that he had a major hand
at getting some former all-star his big shot at college basketball.
If you show interest, watch out....he will call, and call, and call, and call.
One guy called a player who was slated to play for me at 11:30pm at night,
stating, "I figured you would be home at this time." Probably...
He will call to talk to you about your son, then he will ask to talk to him
just so he can see how he is doing. He actually wants to grill him some more,
making sure your son is still thinking about him. When your son politely yes
that he is interested, this man will go around telling everyone that your son
is committed. If he says no, he'll be upset, but he will call back later just
to make sure he is sure.
If this player decides to stick with another team, he will lower him on his
list, tell others how overrated the kid was in the first place and barely
speak to you again, until next high school season, when the process repeats
itself. At that point, he will be your new best friend until your son decides
against him again.
The point is don't play for anyone who promises tangibles. What kind of coach
promises a starting spot? What kind of coach is a good coach based on the
shoes he can give your son? What kind of a coach promises that they will win?
(who knows this?) What kind of coach promises a college scholarship? These
things can't be promised.
What your son should matriculate toward is...
a team that will push him talent wise.
a team that will put him in all of the biggest tournaments.
a coach that will work hard for him off the court, and
a team that has a coach that teaches basketball rather than role it out and
Oddly enough, the last point is the hardest one to find.
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