The Role of High School and AAU Basketball
Often times people describe high school basketball and AAU basketball as incompatible, one is good/positive and one is bad/negative, and typically, AAU basketball bares the brunt of the negativity.
However, I firmly believe that high school basketball and AAU basketball can and should co-exist. If done right, together, they can compliment each other and help kids become the best players they can be, and moreover, greatly increase a player’s chances to go on to play basketball in college.
High School Basketball
Let’s start with high school basketball and the benefits it gives players hoping to someday play in college. First, and most importantly, the structure of high school basketball is much more similar to the college basketball structure than AAU.
In high school, teams practice pretty much everyday and only play once or twice per week. High school teams also typically have multiple offenses, defenses, out of bounds plays, etc. They also often times scout their opponents and put together scouting reports, which can involve watching film of the other team.
Because this structure is so similar to the college level, college coaches want and need to see how potential recruits function and play in this environment. If players don’t do well in this highly structured environment, how are they going to do well in college where it is even more structured?
On the flip side, many AAU teams don’t practice at all, and if they do, it’s just a glorified scrimmage with very little teaching. Also, AAU teams don’t typically vary their offenses and defenses or scout their opponents and have to follow a game plan.
AAU teams usually play 4-8 games over the course of a weekend, so they’re not as spread out as in high school. All of this is to say, the structure of AAU basketball can almost be seen as the opposite of high school or college basketball.
However, there are benefits to this AAU structure as it pertains to the player’s development and recruitment. Number one, the loose structure allows players to work to improve their skills on their own in the high school off-season if they choose, and if their AAU team actually runs great practices, even better.
Also, many AAU tournaments during the NCAA live periods get hundreds of college coaches there to watch because these college coaches are:
A). Able to see a lot of good players over the course of a single weekend, and
B). They’re able to see those good players in multiple games over the course of that weekend. So at a single AAU tournament, college coaches can evaluate way more prospects than at high school games that they can then add to their recruiting list.
Coaches are then able to take that list developed during AAU season and go watch these players during the high school season in order to see how they function and play in a structured system more similar to college.
Are you seeing the picture now?
Yes, both high school and AAU basketball are very different, and in fact, may be opposites, but that doesn’t automatically mean one is good and one is bad.
Both AAU and high school basketball should compliment each other, and when both are done right, they can greatly positively impact in a player’s recruitment!
Are you an AAU coach?
Then reach out to your players’ high school coaches and develop a relationship with them today if you don’t have one already.
Are you a high school coach?
Well, then get to know your players’ AAU coaches. If we all just let go of our pride and egos for a second and go back to the original reason we are doing this (hint: the kids), then we’d all get along and youth basketball would be better off for it!