Rick, thanks for a great article with awesome insights into the current landscape of our youth basketball. It sure seems like we play "sticky wall" with them in order to see who's worth our time. So many kids are given the chance to become good.
Just like in education, you need a solid foundation of basics to master concepts - if you don't master certain skills you can never make advancements and build on those skills.
A consistent and dynamic program should be created for all young athletes to grow and improve. Everyone says hard work and dedication is needed, that is true but its even more important on what you are actually working hard at. Practicing the right way in the right setting will develop fundamentally sound players.
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Thank you for a very well written article. Your article states that the AAU system is organized of individually coached teams whose purpose is to give the best kids in their age level a chance to play, win, and gain exposure.
I would add that this is the way it is "supposed" to be. It seems recently like many coaches are bringing older kids to AAU tournaments, falsifying documents, and cheating so that a particular player can look even more "dominant" playing against younger kids.
The sad part of this is that most kids "know" when they are playing against older kids. They may not know the player personally, but most kids tend to have sense of the other players in their community (and their ages).
Unfortunately, I don't think AAU cares about cheating.
AAU caught a team red-handed at the 2010 Nationals in Memphis. AAU President Bobby Dodd personally said he would see to it that this coach would "never step foot in an AAU gym again".
It has been close to a year since the team, Cokers Phenoms, was caught cheating, and Bobby Dodd hasn't done anything. He looked our players in the eyes and said "don't worry, I'll make sure he never coaches again".
I've called or e-mailed AAU President Bobby Dodd close to 10 times since the cheating scandal in Memphis, and he hasn't returned my calls.
Rich Hill, the head of the AAU Niagara Region in NYS said he is "aware" of the cheating, but he doesn't want to treat Cokers Phenoms any differently at this time (unless he is told so by Bobby Dodd).
What is so frustrating about this is that there is no grey area in this cheating scandal - the Cokers Phenom's coach was caught and admited what he did. I've been to plenty of tournaments where someone says "there's no way that kid is 13 or 14 or whatever", but they never have any proof. Cokers Phenoms admitted to Bobby Dodd that they brought a soon-to-be high school freshman to the 7th grade National Championship tournament, and they had this player sign the name of a 6th grader who was left home.
Here is a link to a story detailing the entire scandal:
Here's a link to our local AAU chapter, and they have continued to allow Cokers Phenoms to register in their tournaments:
Finally, here's a link to a story from another AAU team who was forced to compete against Coker's Phenoms, even though they knew they had previously been caught cheating:
I think AAU President Bobby Dodd is more concerned with preserving their contract with Disney and ESPN's Wide World of Sports than he is with policing his organization. They don't want any information about the cheating that goes on in AAU Basketball to be made public, as it would tarnish their image, and perhaps jeopardize their relationship with Disney.
There are some things in life more important that basketball, but I just don't think AAU understands that.
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