Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's about boy's basketball, but it actually does relate to the women's side.

The Wall Street Journal's Kevin Clark's article is titled: American Kids Flunk Basketball 101 - As AAU Leagues Dominate, Basic Skills Decline; Mr. Beasley Decides to Speak Out
At Thursday’s NBA draft, some of America’s budding basketball superstars will learn where they will launch their careers. Four months later, when the season begins, many will learn something else: They don’t know how to play basketball.

One system that prepares young American players for the pros, the Amateur Athletic Union, is, by most accounts, broken. Without a rigid minor-league system like baseball’s or the extra seasoning football players get in college, America’s basketball gems increasingly get their training from teams affiliated with the Amateur Athletic Union, a vast national youth-basketball circuit that has groomed many of the sport’s top stars.
We've read articles about the tensions between high school and AAU coaches and the realities of high school coaching on the women's side. Clark really doesn't add much to the discussion, beyond speaking with basketball players Mr. Beasley and Mr. Jennings. He also mis-characterizes the issues surrounding the role of AAU in recruiting. Writes Clark:
Agents and college coaches have flocked to AAU games, where they can get to know players outside the watchful high-school system. The opportunity to travel across the country and play in front of these kingmakers—often on teams with other top prospects—is something high schools can’t deliver.
Umm, hello -- has Mr. Clark not heard of the NCAA and its recruiting rules? Or wondered about the recruiting expenses faced by universities? Or spoken with the over-worked and underpaid high school coaches who revel in having a top recruit? Or how you evaluate talent when the competition is...well, midgets from the nearby high school?

And don't tell me the "youth initiative" announced by the NBA/NCAA in 2008 is going to "improve the American structure." To my mind, it's simply trying to wrest control of developing elite talent from the world of AAU coaches/programs (and the dollars they earn).

You want to talk real reform? Discuss academics, participation, compensation, full participation v. elite exclusion.... yah. Right. That's going to happen.