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It's Time for AAU, Basketball's Other Big Season

Now that the NCAA has crowned its men’s and women’s basketball champions, it’s time to give the youth a chance to shine. 

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Basketball is a fast-paced game that requires strength, speed, and hand-eye coordination. It is one of the most popular sports with more than a million boys and girls playing high school varsity basketball.

The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) was created for all who have a love for sports. It’s a nationwide organization dedicated to promoting sports and fitness. During the early years of this 123-year old organization, it served as a leader in international sports, representing the United States. AAU’s early work was to prepare athletes for the Olympic Games. The U.S. government took over the Olympic training after 1978 when the Amateur Sports Act was passed. This change allowed AAU to focus on their motto “Sports for All, Forever” and providing sports programs for all participants of all ages. Today, AAU endorses 39 sports programs for its 500,000 participants and more than 50,000 volunteers.

Basketball became their most popular sport. The AAU season basically runs from late March through mid-July and consists of weekend tournaments. Most tournaments have the teams playing four games on the weekend, two on Saturday and two on Sunday, starting early in the morning and go on throughout the day.

It’s amazing to see how fast the players improve their hoop skills because of the many games played over the weekend. The players make many lasting friendships with their teammates. The best teams from every level compete in summer tournaments to crown the winner of the national title. Rob Lawrence, coach for the Top Notch All-Stars, said “It’s easy to get caught up in the wins and losses of the season, but the real success is when the kids grow up and get to go to high school. They start producing and get to go off to college and hopefully fulfill their dreams of going to the NBA.”

The AAU experience outshines most school basketball teams. It not only offers the chance to play beyond the regular basketball season, but it also gives ball players the chance to play with other ballers at their level. Instead of having one or two really good players on a team, AAU teams usually have a team full of talented players. Many AAU participants feel they’ve “Got Game” because they practice and compete with skilled teammates and opponents, which helps improve their game.

Another reason many young athletes like to play AAU basketball is the chance to be discovered as a rising star. “AAU allows all the different college coaches to come together to see all the players in one venue,” says Kim Lawrence, a former Furman standout and current high school girls basketball coach.

Many AAU participants are hoping to receive scholarships for college. Besides going to play college basketball, many ballers dream of going pro.

Did you know AAU actually has bragging rights for many of the stars of the NBA? The list includes basketball greats such as Larry Bird, LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Cynthia Cooper, and Cheryl Miller, to name just a few. They all participated in the AAU program, perfecting their skills. Because of AAU’s successful program, they have been recognized by the NCAA coaches and many pro scouts as a place to find many players showcasing their talents. It’s definitely the place to be for players serious about getting better.

So, if you’re serious about basketball, why go anywhere else? It’s no a guarantee you will get a scholarship or make the pros, but you will definitely have fun. See for yourself, only a select few will make it (see for yourself).

If you stick with AAU for a few summers you just might find yourself in the NBA.