If you've read this blog any in the past year or so, you'll know my feeling on the AAU/High School debate. Last week, former NBA and NCAA division I coach Don Casey who runs a great blog called The Temple of Zones, posted his thoughts on a variety of subjects regarding the state of the game. In response to a question about AAU basketball, he had this to say (Sorry, but the all-caps is direct from Casey's blog. I've bolded and italicized for emphasis):
How can we limit the AAU coaches and 'handlers?' THIS IS THE TOUGHEST QUESTION THAT YOU HAVE POSED. IT IS A MUST FOR THE HIGH SCHOOL COACHES TO RETURN TO SOME SEMBLANCE OF IMPORTANCE IN THE LIVES OF THEIR PLAYERS. THE ELEMENT OF ACADEMICS IS TOTALLY NEGLECTED BY THESE PEOPLE APART FROM WRITING WHATEVER GPA’S AND SAT SCORES THE KID TELLS THE COACH. Ahmen! WHAT HAS HAPPENED IS A CRIME. CERTIFICATION IS PROBABLY THE ONLY ANSWER. THEY MUST PASS A SERIES OF CLINICS/WORKSHOPS, ETC. TO QUALIFY TO BE RECOGNIZED AS AN “AAU COACH”. SIMPLY PUT, THE MAJORITY OF THE AAU COACHES DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE ISSUES OF DEALING WITH YOUTH TEAMS. MOST HAVE NOT HAD ANY FORMAL EXPOSURE TO SOCIOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES APART FROM THEIR OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCES. THE ISSUES OF PRACTICE ORGANIZATION, REPETITIONS, TEACHING MODALITIES, GAME STRATEGY, CONDITIONING, AND THESE COMPONENTS ARE SELDOM UNDERSTOOD BY THESE COACHES. MANY ARE WELL INTENTIONED BUT DO NOT HAVE ANY HISTORY OF PUTTING IN THE TIME TO ACHIEVE KNOWLEDGE OF HOW TO TEACH/COACH. THE ISSUE OF “HANDLERS” IS AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PROBLEM. THEY ARE COMPLETELY MONEY ORIENTED AND DON’T CONCERN THEMSELVES WITH THE HUMAN ELEMENT ALTHOUGH IT IS THAT HUMAN ELEMENT, MOSTLY GREED, THAT HAS THEM INVOLVED IN THE FIRST PLACE. THEY DO NOT PAY DUES. THEY PAY KIDS, PARENTS, AAU COACHES, FRIENDS OF PLAYERS, ETC. TO GET CONTROL OF KIDS AND FURTHER THEIR OWN EARNING POTENTIAL. I KNOW OF NO LEGISLATION THAT CAN ELIMINATE THESE PEOPLE FROM THE SCENE. THE AMERICAN FREE-ENTERPRISE SYSTEM IS ALIVE AND WELL AND THE “RUNNERS” OR “HANDLERS” ARE A PART OF THE AAU LANDSCAPE AND HERE FOR THE LONG HAUL. ONLY MEETINGS/WORKSHOPS WITH PLAYERS CAN ALERT THEM TO THE PERILS INVOLVED WITH CONTACT WITH THESE PEOPLE. REMEMBER, THESE ARE YOUNG KIDS AND EASILY IMPRESSED BY THE “BLING” OF THESE HANDLERS. KIDS ARE NOT GOING TO LISTEN TO GREY HAIRED GUYS TALKING ABOUT THE VULTURES OUT THERE SETTING THEM UP FOR 3, 4, 5, 6 YEARS DOWN THE LINE.
Further to that, on the topic of the spring/summer basketball season, Casey's view on NCAA influence:
What rules should the NCAA have on summer play? NONE. THE NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL FEDERATION OF COACHES SHOULD PROVIDE THE RULES. THE NCAA HAS INFLUENCE ONLY DURING THE RECRUITING TIME (RULES, POLICY, ETC.) AND THEY NEED TO STAY OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL BUSINESS AT THIS POINT. THE NCAA CAN CERTAINLY HUDDLE WITH THE HIGH SCHOOL HEAVEYWEIGHTS TO COME TO SOME SEMBLANCE OF A REASONABLE SET OF STANDARDS BUT IT MUST NECESSARILY COME FROM THE HIGH SCHOOL ASSOCIATIONS. FURTHER, BY SO DOING, IT WILL ENCOURAGE THE RE-ENTRY OF HIGH SCHOOL COACHES INTO THE LIVES AND FUTURES OF THEIR PLAYERS.
I don't think I could have said it better myself...