ESPN Features the AAU vs High School Basketball Debate
In the past decade, the landscape of amateur basketball in the US has been almost completely transformed with the proliferation of AAU traveling basketball, sneaker companies, and Internet ranking sites like Scout.com and Rivals.com (disclosure, I used to write for Rivals). The way I see it now, there are 2 tiers of basketball now, AAU then High School. AAU traveling basketball has surpassed high school basketball in importance for 2 reasons: the level of competition is higher due to the all-star nature of the teams with no location restrictions, and college coaches have no choice but to rely on the big AAU tournaments and the Internet ranking sites to evaluate players due to the NCAA evaluation period restrictions.
As an aspiring high school head coach, I would have to say that I am naturally more inclined to take the high school side of the debate and my preference would be to eliminate AAU basketball altogether. But I understand why AAU basketball is more popular, and more important especially for the players who have college/NBA talent — because it gives them more exposure and college coaches rely on AAU more now. While I also understand the reality that AAU basketball won’t be going away anytime soon, I do think that in the short-term, there needs to be at least some level of oversight which none exists currently. The current self-regulating model is clearly not working, because it’s simply too easy to go “outside the lines.” For example, there should be universal guidelines around how a team can be formed (ie. guidelines for who can be the coach, corporate sponsorship, etc..), and only eligible teams should be able to enter the big tournaments. The Internet ranking sites should have the same contact restrictions as college coaches do.
There are no easy answers right now, and I think amateur basketball is currently at a major crossroads in the US. In my opinion, the high school model and the AAU model are not compatible with one another — at some point everyone will have to choose high school or AAU as the only way to proceed in the future, and right now it’s not clear which model will win out. If the AAU model eventually wins out, than it will require significant changes.
Click here to watch the Outside the Lines Episode AAU vs High School Basketball Debate
Basketball Recruiting: AAU vs.High School
I have talked many times about the importance that college coaches put on AAU basketball. It doesn’t seem to matter much what the athlete does during the regular season, it is all about what they do during the summer AAU circuit when college coaches are keeping an eye on them throughout the country.
These college coaches put a high importance on this time because it pits the top players in the country against one another. And when recruiting players, it really is what happens in May and July that end up being what the college coaches offer for. Not November through March.
The reason I bring this up once again is a recent example I heard. There was a talented basketball player who stands 6-foot-9. He obviously has size on his side. But on his high school team, they decided not to bring him up to play at the varsity level as a sophomore.
And early during his junior season, he was not even in the starting lineup. He eventually started doing well down the stretch and ended the season being named second team All Conference in a solid league. It is not the best conference in the state but it is usually among the top five.
When looking at his points per game and season overall, few college would be overwhelmed. He had very little recruiting interest at this time outside of his height and potential. But he put himself into a great position by trying out for a good AAU team and eventually finding a spot.
While this was his first year overall playing on the AAU circuit, this senior to be did well. So well in fact that he currently has two mid major Division I offers. While they are not from the SEC, Pac 10, or Big 10, they are still Division I scholarships that will pay for his entire college education.
Plus with a full month left on the AAU circuit, it would not come as a huge surprise to me if he added even more offers over that time. This standout had major Division I college coaches calling him since he blew up on the AAU circuit that it would not be a shock to see a few of them eventually offer.
As I have said, the high school season is a great time to become and improve. You obviously want to win as many games as you can with your teammates and have fun along the way. But when it really comes down to it, there is no better time to shine than against national competition on the AAU circuit. That is where the real recruiting interest comes and this shows how important it is to play AAU hoops if given the chance.
How AAU Basketball is the Way to Help Yourself during the Basketball Recruiting Process and Land a Scholarship Offer
There is no doubt that the NCAA shutting down college basketball coaches able to go to spring AAU tournaments does not help basketball recruits throughout the country from adding to their scholarship lists. However, there is no doubt that playing AAU basketball at as many open events as possible is the best way to draw interest from college coaches and hopefully earn scholarship offers.
The reason is rather simple. While college coaches were able to go to high schools themselves and evaluate prospects in person, these recruits would already have to be on the radar of schools. But when the evaluation period of AAU kicks off during the summer, these coaches see many more recruits and can be easily impressed.
The key is to play your best basketball at the right time. If you step up and play the best game of your life with numerous college coaches in attendance, you definitely can help yourself overall. That doesn’t mean college coaches will be knocking down your door but it does mean playing AAU basketball on the national circuit is the best way to be evaluated.
For basketball recruiting, highlight videos are not as important as in football. As one college coach put it to me a while back, anyone can cut the footage to make themselves look like an All Star. While I do feel that they are worth doing in a lot of situations, if you shine during the AAU circuit and get yourself interest by playing well in front of these coaches, then the recruiting tape is not as important.
I have also seen many athletes really step up their game over a course of a few games at an AAU tournament. There was a basketball recruit who I felt was a Division II player because he was big, athletic, and really had gotten a ton better over the last year. After his performance at an AAU tournament, one college coach I knew swore that he should be getting Division I scholarship offers and that one mid-major was close to offering him. Fast forward a few weeks later and this same coach saw him play terrible and had completely jumped off his band wagon.
This happens all the time because high school basketball players are inconsistent. There is no doubt about that. They will play scholarship worthy one game and be worthless the next. It happens all the time. The biggest key for those on the AAU circuit is to limit those bad games and play your best as much as possible.
Five Keys to a Basketball Recruiting Scholarship Offer
1.) Playing for an AAU team that travels nationally
Here is what Tennessee head basketball coach Bruce Pearl said recently about the basketball recruiting process: “If you’re in the AAU program and you’ve got a decent team, then the summertime is when you’ve got a chance go make a name for yourself. You can’t hunt bear in the lodge, so kids have got to go out there at these tournaments and give us a chance to evaluate them.” Playing on an AAU team that travels the country in tournaments is the #1 factor in getting a Division I basketball offer. I have seen numerous kids get scholarships simply because they played on a good AAU team. They had to play well at the right times but this certainly beats sitting at home working out with your teammates. With basketball, I cannot stress the importance of getting on the AAU circuit.
Unlike football, skills and abilities does trump size for college basketball. That is the reason why you will occasionally see a 5-foot-6 point guard or a 6-foot-6 center at the Division I level. They just have more abilities as well as a knack for playing beyond their size. The skill level of basketball players needs to be high and that is why there will be some smaller players on the court. It is because they have some abilities and know how to play the game.
College coaches will take chances with projects but they want players who can contribute early and often. Most of these coaches know that if they recruit the wrong players, it will likely cost them their job. That is why a project is much harder for a basketball coach to take versus a football coach. These basketball coaches are limited in the amount of scholarships that they have every year so they have to be careful. Taking too many projects that don’t pan out could easily get you fired.
4.) Work Ethic
There is no doubt that being a gym rat definitely can help you in the chase for a scholarship. But if you are not big enough, don’t play for a good AAU team, and lack the ability, it doesn’t matter if you workout twelve hours a day. God-given talent will trump work ethic at times in the chase for a scholarship. It sucks but it is true.
I hate to say that this is last on the list but it seems academics and character are even less important at the Division I level in hoops. Obviously you want the #1 player in the country to have fantastic grades and strong character (see Harrison Barnes) but it doesn’t always happen that way. The other areas are more important. However, having good grades and strong character can open the door for more opportunities if you find the right situation.
Scholarships for AAU Basketball
Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and summer basketball have become a large recruiting ground for college coaches who can offer basketball scholarships. Breakthrough Basketball says that summer basketball has become the most significant aspect of recruiting. Summer basketball has its benefits and drawbacks, but the potential to be seen, noticed and potentially get a basketball scholarship is greater in AAU than most organizations.
Read more: Scholarships for AAU Basketball Click here http://www.ehow.com/info_7768357_scholarships-aau-basketball.html#ixzz1tjg9UWXN