Question: Does AAU summer basketball hurt a player’s progress? Or does playing AAU help in a player’s seasonal progression?
For decades, basketball has been known as a sport globally played by millions. Inside court gymnasiums, on park playgrounds, inside of schools, backyards, and front driveways. No matter the month of year, hot or cold, if you have a ball, then there is surely a basketball court within minutes reach. So without a doubt basketball is still a year-around sport where anyone interested can play the game. ….However for the population that lives to die for this sport, it’s not just a game, but a way of life.
But how much is too much? What are the benefits playing year-round? Are there? All these questions are valid, which sparks the ongoing debate whether or not playing all year long is the best option. If so, what’s the best way to go about doing it?
Back in the day, advancing within the sport had more to do with schooling and team placement, and less with what goes on ‘off the clock’, summer park teams, summer AAU, playground pick up games etc. Today’s game is much different than those of past. Summer basketball has transformed into the perennial powerhouse of all athletics, placing disvalue on winter scholastic sports such as hoops (basketball). A division-1 scholarship is more attainable through playing in the summer months than in a school year. Why? Exposure!
The chances to be seen are cut not only into halves but into 1/4 compared to playing in the summer where exposure roams at abundance. Is it fair? Maybe not, but collegiate coaches and personnel are far more visible in the summer for obvious reasons, such as being on summer vacation, which gives them more time for scouting / recruiting purposes. At the time being seen by coaches, am I as a player being developed enough to even being mentioned by these coaches? Am I setting myself up for a false-positive? Many times, AAU / Summer Coaches reap the benefits off of a High School coach by having their players play for them in Summer months, most cases, against talent that far exceeds their immediate level of talent, sending false pre-tenses of a player that is not of that skill level, but because of obvious benefits for the summer coach and program, cutting the hand of the High School coach who has had this kid of 7 months out of the year compared to being with their summer program 2 months out of the year, because it’s lucrative. Sweet enough for the summer coach right?
Recently the founder / CEO of a local sports media Non-Profit, M.A.S.E (Metro Area Sports and Entertainment) Clifton Pearson took to the hardwood to discuss this very issue with a coach who’s at a program that has produced Division-1 talent, despite of not having the biggest star-studded players, one who’s academic curriculum is collegiate prep level. Coach Raheem Simmons of Robbinsdale Cooper, whose program has one a 2017-18 State Title, has had multiple division 1 talent in recent years. “Development” he says, “players playing on AAU teams instead of developing their game……. as a high school coach I’m not for summer basketball more than I am for developing over the summer. ” A debate that has been going on for years, and one, that has lost momentum as far as winter sports beating summer athletics. However what Coach is saying has truth to it. Let’s think about for a minute; When a kid returns to school in fall, from summer break, there are three things that have normally progressed for the student-Athlete, which he /she teachers take notice and may point out: (1). How much Taller / Bigger the student has gotten over the summer. (2). How much darker , or how much the student has tanned, hence to probably a summer vacation in warmer climates. (3) how much stronger the student looks now then last spring. All these things are natural progressions within every student – athletes life per summer. So why would that change for athletes who are growing rapidly by the inch? It doesn’t. However because of its popularity and notoriety players opt out of summer trainings and develpment and onto the AAU circuit, filled with bright lights and packed gyms, hoping to get a chance to be discovered by NCAA coaches and recruiters. But is this best for the athlete? I remember when playing AAU basketball was an honor, a privilege. You had to be one of the baddest players in your area to even be considered playing. Their weren’t so many different AAU teams, Because of this same logic, and keeping the games from being watered down by talent that should have trained and worked on their game(s) instead of risking it all on having the chance to play in front coaches you’d only see on television.