Thursday, May 21, 2009

Outside the Lines profiles High School vs. AAU basketball

In case you missed it, OTL did a piece of the growth of AAU basketball and the influence that AAU coaches now have on the recruiting process.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with this piece. Maybe it is because none of this information was knew to me, but in general I think that OTL usually does a much better job digging up some kind of information that is not already public knowledge.

And don't blame it all on the AAU coaches. The way that the NCAA rules are currently set up, there is very little time when college coaches are actually allowed to go out and watch these kids play. Given the rigorous schedule of these coaches during the season, and the nationwide recruiting searches that the top programs go on in pursuit of talent, it is almost impossible for them to scout the players during their high school season.

It also doesn't help that a top tier prospect (especially big men) rarely go against kids that are up to their talent level during a typical high school season. Can you really gauge whether a kid can play at the high-major level when he is going against a severely undermanned high school opponent?

AAU tournaments and exposure camps are the best chance that a college coach is going to get to see A) the guys that they are recruiting going toe-to-toe against someone with a similar talent level and B) a large number of potential recruits playing in the same place. With the economy shrinking athletic budgets, why waste the money to travel around the country to watch one kid play a high school game when you can spend a week at the Las Vegas Big Time Tournament and see basically every kid you are recruiting play?

That said, it is not necessarily a good thing that AAU coaches wield this much power in the recruiting business. While I'm sure that their are dirty high school coaches (just as there are probably AAU coaches with the best intentions), I think it is fair and probably correct to say that there is a high percentage of club coaches that are more concerned with making a quick dollar than they are about the welfare of their star player (or players).

Video after the jump.

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