Verbals: Corey Grooms
Today’s basketball landscape for talent is changing right before our eyes. The next basketball prodigy is currently in elementary school doing extraordinary things that will make you shake your head. Scouts, coaches, and street runners are searching from coast to coast for the next set of phenoms. On the AAU circuit every year hundreds of thousands of kids are competing to survive pool play and make a run that will capture the attention of a scout that can help them get a scholarship to an elite prep school, private school, or college.
Unbeknownst to many basketball players, your basketball dreams are kept alive by the sacrifice, perseverance, and dedication of your loyal supporters and mentors that try to make your life a little less difficult while you are battling other ball players for the very elusive basketball legend status. As you gain notoriety and an increased fan base, it is a must that you continue to work on your game and not fall victim to your own success. One too many mediocre showings will have you sliding down the totem pole to basketball oblivion where people will begin to doubt your skills and tell you to your face that it’s time to step up or be forgotten about forever. There are too many basketball players for people to be concerned about you if you’re content with your current skill level.
In many cities and states across America, basketball organizations have put together all-star caliber teams that are made up from kids from all over that particular city and sometimes the state. It is not an easy task. The bottom line is that week-long tryouts are held and some of the best players, famous and anonymous, battle for a spot on these elite teams. If you have ever been to the AAU National Tournament, then you can envision this familiar site. For those who have not, it’s like witnessing the best players in that particular state on one team. The talent level is high and the stakes are even higher. The play of one affects the other and an impressive showing will undoubtedly help these players land basketball scholarships.
New York City organizations do not follow this model of success. Ironically, in any given tournament, you will see as many as 50 teams from the New York City area and the talent is spread out which decreases the opportunities. Coming from a cost-effective perspective in regards to the AAU Nationals, it might be wiser to have a city wide tryout for 10 teams that will represent New York City. Instead of spending well over $50,000 for tournament fees and expenses, one parent organization could put together a talent laden 10 team squad that would spend roughly $10,000 and get the same effect. The money that is ultimately saved can be used to hire teachers to run an effective and efficient SAT Prep program where these student-athletes learn test taking strategies and, ultimately, increase their chances of receiving scholarships.
NYC basketball organizations, the self-proclaimed Mecca of basketball, have to come together and formulate a plan that will put its best players on fewer teams and find the right set of coaches for these teams. I am all for loyalty and wanting to play for a particular coach but in the end it’s all about the kids and the opportunities that they can receive. If we can somehow put aside our differences for the sake of the kids, NYC will once again become a place for college coaches and scouts to evaluate the talent of our millions of kids that are currently playing basketball.
Corey Grooms is an educator, basketball historian, student of the game, and a basketball writer. Although he covers all aspects of the business of basketball, the majority of his time is devoted to helping economically disadvantaged youth achieve their academic goals and ultimately compete at the highest levels of the game. Check out his blog at Basketball Legend 365.