Interview by Josh Staph
AAU basketball gives every kid the same opportunity to play in a competitive atmosphere. Not all of our 125,000 players are big-time prospects; we have a lot of kids who are just going to be good high school players. But for those who are college recruits, there is no question that playing AAU will increase their chances of getting noticed. College coaches want to see their prospects competing against other good players.
The AAU experience is different from the one you get playing on your high school team; your role changes. You might be the best player on your high school team, but the third- or fourth-best on your AAU team. If you’re 6’5”, you’re one of the bigger guys on your [high school] team, which means your coach has to make you a post player. In AAU, you’ll be able to play small forward or two-guard—your natural position.
Some people think that we are a generic brand, but not everything out there is AAU. There are only a few AAU-sanctioned events, so make sure you know what you’re playing. When you first get involved, it’s important to pick the right team. Choose a team based on the organization as a whole, the coach’s philosophy and experience, and how well that coach will help you with your basketball knowledge and life skills. Things like traveling and interacting with others on the road, ordering food at a restaurant and accepting leadership and team responsibilities all play huge roles in developing those skills.
Undoubtedly, you will have fond memories of your AAU experience. I remember Alonzo Mourning had 27 blocks in the national championship game. Some people don’t get that many in a year. Another time during a tournament, we all went out to eat after a game. Allen Iverson was sitting there and bragging about how he could take Mike. We all thought he was talking about this kid Mike Evans, who was on our team, but then we realized he was referring to Jordan. Those are the kind of memories that will stay with you, and your coach.