Each year, it seems that the perceptions of both parent and player become more and more skewed. Dreams of the magic carpet ride to college and the pros must begin with playing a for big time AAU team that goes to the biggest tournaments. In short, no…
I have been coach AAU for around ten years, but basketball for more than 20. It just does not work that way for the vast majority of players (I could put the student-athlete term here, but I know people want to focus on the athlete part). The few percentage of the very elite players (think Josh Jackson, Cassius Winston, Miles Bridges, etc.) can afford to think that way, but most of us simply cannot. Your best course of action is to find a team that will allow you to play, get some relevant exposure, and more importantly, GET BETTER!
At MML, we generally do not travel all around the country and make no apologies for it. First, as a grassroots organization, we do not charge our players the type of $1000 fees that would take to make that happen. Second, if you are not competitive, you get buried in obscure gyms at many of those events and thus defeat any real purpose. Lastly, our coaches are volunteers. That said, we do go to events that have proven to be those that coaches attend and they are seen. Many of our alumni have gone on to college careers largely because of playing with MML.
I’ve had kids that could’ve played for any team…and they chose the Lakers. That example is good enough for me to show the system works. We have had a young man go from not playing on his freshman team to starting on JV the next year after one summer with MML and getting moved to varsity, then starting on varsity the following year after his second summer. And he did not grow an inch taller. A check of our alumni link will show a bunch of kids that played in college who nobody else thought they had a chance to. What is one of the first things we did in my practice yesterday after I talked? Post move footwork for all players. Yes, we work even in travel ball practice. Sure, games are easier with a team loaded with athletes, but often those athletes are going to be the same athletes they were at the beginning of the spring because they will look great with other great athletes around them and not necessarily have to work as hard. My goal is to improve my players and expose them to competition many of them haven’t seen, while exposing them to all levels of college coaching. They could go to to Vegas or elsewhere with another team, play very little (or play a lot and not be competitive), and gain nothing…or they can go to Detroit, see coaches that they have a legitimate shot of playing for, and compete. That’s their choice.
We have built a program on kids that simply want to be Lakers. If they do not, that is fine. There are many teams out there to choose from. We do not do high maintenance and EVERYBODY has to buy-in, including parents. Our coaches choose the players, not the parents, so the coaches also get to make the coaching decisions. We love our parents to be involved and there are several ways to do so. Our goal here is simple, to help foster an environment where young men grow into better players and better people. We “Run to Win” on the court and in life. We don’t worry about winning tournaments, as that will come with time. We worry about players improvement. When their coaches come to me the next year and tell them how much they’ve gotten better or when they realize it themselves, that’s when I know we have done our jobs. Winning a tournament will get you a trophy. Growing into maturity will get you a chance success in life in whatever avenue you choose.
I talk to college coaches regularly. If you have the talent and the grades, they will find you. I have met two that have stopped recruiting a kid because their parents were an issue they didn’t want to deal with. They DO look at your social media. They DO care if your girlfriend is always posting on your page. They DON’T care if you post that you’ve been working out. They DO care if you show that you’ve been working out when the time comes. They DO care if you’re always using profanity on social media. I had one D-1 coach tell me to look at a player’s Facebook page and tell him they would not recruit him with a page like that. I could go on and on, but the point remains that basketball is a tool. We want to teach you to use that tool to the best of your ability.
I have no scholarships in my pocket. I hope everyone gets one if they desire to, but the reality is that not everyone will. I guarantee this; if you come, listen, AND work hard, you will improve. Good, better, best; we never rest until tomorrow’s good is better than today’s best.
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