With AAU basketball's biggest week upon us, plenty of ink has been devoted to the summer circuit in recent days.
MaxPreps is primarily a high school sports site, and while there are plenty of reasons to critique summer ball, I like it for one reason – kids play hard. It may not always be the most fluid team game, but with college coaches often looking on, players are fighting for their futures and it results in some pretty entertaining basketball.
The Wall Street Journal took a New York-centric look at AAU hoops. Not a lot new here as your typical WSJ reader probably isn't immersed in youth basketball, but an interesting perspective nonetheless.
Veering way away from the Big Apple, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune touches on the exposure advantages the travel circuit owns over high school basketball.
Included is this quote which may make some blood boil on the high school side:
"In the state of Utah, you can count on one hand the number of (college) coaches that will walk into a high school gym and watch kids play," A-Train coach Alex Austin told Jones. "High school basketball is fast becoming irrelevant in the state of Utah. If a kid isn’t playing AAU ball and traveling to major tournaments, coaches don’t recognize Utah athletes."
Sadly, Austin is dead on and comments like this should serve as a wake-up call to governing bodies around the country who continue to maintain limited schedules and heavily restrict the amount of time coaches can work with players in the off-season. They are ceding more and more power to club teams. Whether that is a good thing for player development is up for debate.
We have our own guide to this week's festivities in Las Vegas, where the Fab 48 and adidas Super 64 will be the headliners. I'll be in Sin City for the start of action Thursday and file reports each night through Sunday.
Las Vegas is only half the fun this week as the AAU Super Showcase
at Disney's Wide World of Sports gets underway Tuesday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Then there is this report on the Pump Brothers from Marlen Garcia of the USA Today. The Pump Brothers have received a lot of negative press lately (they were also linked to a ticket scandal at Kansas University), but they do have a pretty impressive track record of showcasing young players and helping them get to the college level.
Taking a break from shoe company hoops, Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports wrote about the patriotism of young players these days.
I wrote several weeks back that people should take note of the lineup for the Under-17 team that just won the World Championship in Germany – it might be special to look back on.
Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt seems to agree.
"It was one of the most talented young teams that USA Basketball has ever put together,” Hewitt told Goodman.
Led by St. Louis guard Bradley Beal and Virginia forward James McAdoo (and coached by Don Showalter of Mid-Prairie High School in Iowa), the squad dominated in shocking fashion over the course of two summers with a record of 13-0. Eight of those victories came by 30 points or more and only twice were opponents able to keep the final margin under 20.
Finally, the No. 66 prospect in our 2011 Top 100 – Greenville (Greenville, Ga.) guard/wing Kentavious Caldwell – made a pledge to Georgia over the weekend. Very positive sign for Bulldog head coach Mark Fox