Will AAU Continue?

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Owen Meyer, Sports Reporter

There is a lot of talk with many AAU basketball teams about their seasons and traveling; coming from personal experience, there are a lot of traveling fees that come with playing with a certain team. The AAU community wants their season to start up on time and have no issues, but the way things are going right now with high school sports and college delays, AAU could be set back. A lot of prospective college athletes depend on AAU basketball to get recruited with coaches coming to certain games to see if you have potential. It is a lot of pressure, but making it to the collegiate level through this travel season of basketball could make or break a kid’s future, and for some, it is their only way out.

But with the game of basketball and the Athletic Amateur Union, there can be many downfalls as well. AAU basketball clubs focus on receiving sponsorships from big shoe companies, like Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas, with the goal of attracting elite high school talent. The hope was that by getting these players to compete for a Nike or Adidas sponsored AAU team, they would stick with the company who sponsored their AAU team when it came time for them to sign a shoe contract. This has led to less focus by the coaches on the development of the players during the summer basketball months and more attention on shoe contracts, rankings, and the marketing brand image of the players and clubs. A lot of talented youth players have gotten swept up in this corruption. Some were overhyped as youths and never panned out, and others lost eligibility to play in high school or college because of dealings with advisors who provided the player and his family with large sums of money.

There are many exposure camps around the world, and it is not only for basketball either. Other sports like football, baseball, volleyball, and soccer can have camps where players pay money to get their name out depending if they are legit and they have talent. There are also many players who deserve more attention than the ones paying for all of the fancy exposure camps and letter write ups; not everyone gets that opportunity due to limiting factors outside of their own control.

Zion Williamson is a prime example of a success story in AAU basketball. He played up a grade in every season of AAU until he went to college, where he played under Coach K at Duke. He was the powerhouse of AAU in 2017-2018, and there are many reasons why. He averaged almost 30 points a game along with 10 rebounds and six assists. The 6’8, 280 lb 20-year-old has been making a name for himself in the NBA after a one and done year in college.

The next person I am about to talk about is the Ball family, or Big Baller Brand, consists of brothers Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo and of course, their father Lavar, who was and still is one of the most hated and loved celebrities for his boasting and trash talking, Lonzo made it to the NBA and was a big name in high school, he made many highlight reels for younger kids and adults to watch on YouTube. LiAngelo, or Gelo, has made an NBA appearance for the Detroit Pistons, but one day later was released. LaMelo just got drafted by the Charlotte Hornets; he played overseas with Gelo in Lithuania for a year and then went straight to the league, no college. All in all, these athletes are some of the most impacted by AAU, and there are many more to come.