The Grassroots Basketball Divide

Picking Up The Pieces

IMG_3341The discussion is AAU versus High School Coaches. Hundreds of related-articles exist on the internet.

We asked basketball goers two questions:

1) What is your opinion on AAU and high school sports?

2) Which one better prepares student athletes?

Then we selected two equal but opposite answers to share with you.

Here’s someone’s first answer:

“AAU basketball gives you more exposure and you get to travel out of town more as well as play in different venues against better competition meaning AAU gives you the best of the best but school is the best of whoever’s in the school. School teams prepare you better as far as being a student athlete because they hold you more accountable for your actions in school with behavior and having a certain gpa. AAU there’s no GPA requirement, GPA is always a requirement in our household.”

This person feels that AAU offers more travel games, and high school is ideal for developing players on-and-off the court.

IMG_3342Here is an anonymous second answer:

“AAU basketball is nothing like High School basketball nor does it prepare kids for how the game is played at higher levels. No skills are actually taught.”

According to this individual, high school sports is compatible with a player’s development opposed to AAU.

These are two conflicting outlooks on AAU and High School.

I want everybody to be on the same page but doesn’t mean we have to agree.

Today you will learn the basics of the AAU v. High School conflict, of the 1978 Amateur Sports Act, and of the Bridging the Gap Between AAU and High School Coaches Meeting – Part II.

These issues among many affect the outcome of over 600,000 AAU members and 550,000 high school basketball players who either seek an athletic college scholarship or NBA stardom.

Note that not all AAU or high school participants make it to the NCAA.

In fact, only 3.5 percent of high schoolers play in NCAA Divisions I, II & III.

IMG_3343That is, 96.5 percent of high school athletes will not play NCAA sports each year.

The NCAA has three divisions each with a distinct probability: DI 1%, DII 1% and DIII 1.4%.

The percentage is the probability for players to enter the NCAA from high school.

Of roughly 550,000 high school athletes, only 5,000 go to Division I.

In addition, 10% or 50,000 athletes fall short academically at the NCAA Clearance House — better known as the NCAA Eligibility Center.

Too many students are failing to produce passing GPA and SAT scores.

Players have to be taught as much discipline and responsibility as possible.

Incidentally, AAU is often ridiculed for OVERLY focusing on athletics.

Thus, the AAU motto is “Sports For All – Forever.”

IMG_3345On the other hand, high schools provide players with an education, athletics, training, coaching, exposure, and college preparation.

I’ve covered the percentage and probability players have to compete in NCAA sports.

Keep in mind… the player, percentage and probability.

Now let’s expound on the ongoing AAU and High School feud, which started over 40 to 100 years ago.

What is AAU?

AAU is an initialism that stands for Amateur Athletic Union. Initialism means you represent the person or organization.

Initial is in the word initialism. When players or coaches become AAU (or Junior USA Team-NBA) members, they write their initial to accept or agree with e.g. the union’s concept.

The Amateur Athletic Union was founded in 1888 by William Curtis.

Basketball was created by James Naismith in 1891, three years after AAU’s inception.

IMG_3333Why are AAU & High School Coaches at each other’s throat?

There are many reasons. But it’s principally because of the player, percentage and probability. 
Players are a commodity and necessity.

AAU & high school coaches sort particular athletes to build their program, and whether an union, school or company, they must promote their brand.

Bottom line, basketball is a business.

Middle school, high school, college, and of course, the NBA generate money.

Here is another clear-cut dissimilarity between AAU and High School:

AAU does not coach nor position athletes on teams for competition.

IMG_3346However, high school coaches are hired to facilitate team tryouts, then select players for games.

Speaking of games — EYBL should not be confused with AAU. EYBL is a Nike sponsored tournament. Nike is a for-profit entity.

In contrast, AAU is a non-profit organization.

AAU and High School coaches handle players differently — if at all.

The AAU and high school confrontation also stems from the 1978 AmAtUer Sports Act. You might not be aware of this law if you were born during or after it took effect.

What is the 1978 AmAtUer Sports ACT and how does it relate to AAU — and you?

IMG_3331In order to officialize this legislation President Jimmy Carter signed or initialed the ACT.

The passage reads that AAU once regulated AmAtUer sports. Plus enforced arbitrary rules. Arbitrary means without principle, plan or system. Moreover, athletes affiliated with shoe sponsors were prohibited from participating in games.

It’s apparent AAU does not get along with high school coaches or sneaker sponsors.

As stated, the Congress formed the United States Olympic Committee that voted to remove AAU.

Now this takes us to the recent Saturday, December 2nd AAU and High School Coaches Bridging the Gap PART 2 meeting in North Carolina with Paul Biancardi who served as mediator.

IMG_3332Mr. Biancardi’s professional job-title is ESPN National Director of Recruiting and ESPN 100 Rankings.

AAU and High School coaches both decided it was time to make amends. They agreed transparency is key, and players should practice more and play less games.

As far as rankings, Mr. Biancardi reiterated that “being a highly ranked player doesn’t translate to success.” Nevertheless, he added, “It’s still a good thing to be ranked.”

If you are a player it behooves you to be ranked in middle and high school. That’s Coach B’s advice.

AAU and high school coaches finally recognized the importance of open talk and open access to resources.


AAU & HS coaches inside one room with mediator Coach Paul Biancardi

We’ve touched on the AAU and High School fallout, the circumstance of the 1978 AmAtUer Sports Act, and how Mr. Biancardi is helping AAU and high school coaches resolve their differences.

Hopefully these amateur and professional lessons guide you on your basketball journey.

Good Luck.

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