On ESPN the other day, Outside the Lines did a feature report on the growing debate between High School and AAU. With both sides weighing in on the heated discussion. Take a look and read my comments below,

In the past decade, the landscape of amateur basketball in the US has been almost completely transformed with the proliferation of AAU traveling basketball, sneaker companies, and Internet ranking sites like Scout.com and Rivals.com (disclosure, I used to write for Rivals). The way I see it now, there are 2 tiers of basketball now, AAU then High School. AAU traveling basketball has surpassed high school basketball in importance for 2 reasons: the level of competition is higher due to the all-star nature of the teams with no location restrictions, and college coaches have no choice but to rely on the big AAU tournaments and the Internet ranking sites to evaluate players due to the NCAA evaluation period restrictions.

As an aspiring high school head coach, I would have to say that I am naturally more inclined to take the high school side of the debate and my preference would be to eliminate AAU basketball altogether. But I understand why AAU basketball is more popular, and more important especially for the players who have college/NBA talent -- because it gives them more exposure and college coaches rely on AAU more now. While I also understand the reality that AAU basketball won't be going away anytime soon, I do think that in the short-term, there needs to be at least some level of oversight which none exists currently. The current self-regulating model is clearly not working, because it's simply too easy to go "outside the lines." For example, there should be universal guidelines around how a team can be formed (ie. guidelines for who can be the coach, corporate sponsorship, etc..), and only eligible teams should be able to enter the big tournaments. The Internet ranking sites should have the same contact restrictions as college coaches do.

There are no easy answers right now, and I think amateur basketball is currently at a major crossroads in the US. In my opinion, the high school model and the AAU model are not compatible with one another -- at some point everyone will have to choose high school or AAU as the only way to proceed in the future, and right now it's not clear which model will win out. If the AAU model eventually wins out, than it will require significant changes.