As the middle school basketball is about to tip off,
thoughts start to creep toward the upcoming AAU season. Ordinarily, at this time of the year coaches
are starting to develop their schedules and contemplate roster upgrades and/defections. As has been the case for as many years as we
can remember, parents are evaluating their kid’s future with former and
prospective teams. Often times, parents
of talented and not so talented players are both receiving and making recruiting-related
phone calls. Visions of, “super teams’ are being sold to kids and players along
with promises of undefeated seasons, unlimited playing time, prime roles and
positions. With that said, the old
adage, “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the street” is most
relevant this time of the year. In our
experience, parents will chase perfection and move their child from what
appears to be a good situation (good coaching, competitive, skill centered
development, participation in quality events & healthy environment) to situations
that appear to be better based on anticipated win totals, more playing time,
playing with better players, free gear, better brand name, etc. In our opinion, all that glitters is not gold,
and we would caution parents about switching teams based on promises and
perceptions. Your kid’s current
situation may not be perfect, but it could be good enough, and at least you
know what to expect.
Middle School Ball is Tough to Watch
During a recent opportunity to watch middle school
basketball we were reminded just how fortunate we are to be able to watch some
of the most elite middle school basketball players in the county compete week
We are also reminded just how
bad middle school basketball can really look at the local level.
Many parents of elite middle school-aged
players are shocked at the level of play in middle school, as from November
through February they are forced to endure a much lower level of basketball than
they are accustomed to seeing during the AAU/travel basketball season.
Although the elite middle school circuit of
tournaments, camps and showcases provide us an opportunity to watch high flying
dunks, elite skill level, high scoring and exciting games, middle school ball
is often plagued by slower pace, fewer skills, below the rim play and low
In addition, in many
cases, elite players are held back from fully demonstrating their talents as
middle school coaches tend emphasize team-oriented play over individualism.
Of course that’s not the case with every
middle school program, depending on the area of the country, but in at least in
the Midwest it seems to be a common occurrence.
Although middle school ball may not be as exciting as travel ball, it
still serves a purpose in the overall development of a player’s game, and it’s
still exciting for you to watch your child play with his neighborhood friends,
while representing the local school and community.
Also keep in mind, middle school ball may
offer many players a greater opportunity for skill development through more
frequent and consistent practicing.
the end of the day, middle school basketball never killed anybody, and the AAU
season is right around the corner.
last note, we are always thrilled when we discover a talented player during
middle school ball that was flying under the radar during travel season!
Questions Abound for 2016
With the 2016 travel basketball season only a few months
away, there are a lot of questions and uncertainty with some of the major AAU
programs in the state.
foremost, people are waiting to see the possible ramifications of King James’
branding change from King James Shooting Stars to the NEO Shooting Stars.
Because we only recently addressed the issue,
we won’t spend much time on the subject, but the move has raised a number of
legitimate questions about the possible makeup of King James’ youth teams.
Will they stay or will they go is on a lot of
peoples’ minds right now.
recent merger between King James and Ohio Varsity will be effected, as Ohio
Varity teams will remain with their original program names.
Prospects for OBC’s 2020 team are looking up, as the team
will merge with keys pieces of Jay Younkin’s Cincinnati-based SWO Elite squad
from last year. Coming over from SWO Elite are Jake Younkin, Evan Prater.
The big addition to that team is 6’9 Zach
Loveday who comes over from All-Ohio Northeast.
Loveday’s addition along with 6’2 Andy Barba, 6’3 Anthony Maxie and 6’5
Ryan Kerns will give OBC one of the biggest front lines in the state.
Some of All-Ohio’s middle school teams have questions
marks as well.
The biggest issue at the
moment centers on the 2020 team in terms of who will coach the team as well as
what players are left as possible building blocks.
Although there were encouraging signs from
All-Ohio’s City Series squad, thought to represent the future of a team in that
class, there seems to have been a loss of momentum for now. Aside from securing
a coach, the next big question is where will the players come from.
Dave Migron’s Puma program has done a great
job of locking up local talent, while King James has an elite team in the class
and the Ohio Basketball Club (OBC) has merged with a Cincinnati group to field
a quality squad.
Needless to say,
All-Ohio has an uphill battle on its hands.
There are also some questions concerning All-Ohio’s 2021
team(s) going forward.
As most observers
in that class know, there was a split of sorts early last season, resulting in
2 All-Ohio Red teams in the class.
Fenta kept the bulk of last year’s squad, while Al Mobley created his own
The big question for 2016 is who
will get the best players and field the most competitive team for All-Ohio.
King James has arguably the top team in the
class, while the Mid-Ohio Pumas and Buckeye Prep have talent in central Ohio
locked up. Questions also exist for OBC’s entrant in the class as well.
Dennis Barba appears to be at the controls of
OBC’s youth program at the present, but it’s unclear what his recruiting
efforts will garner for 2016.
All-Ohio’s 2022 team appears to be the early favorite, as
Coach John Mobley has secured the services of Cincinnati’s Paul McMillan IV to
go along with a solid core of returning players.
With that said, word on the street has it
that Sean Jones may not be returning to the team.
This is a big loss as Jones is a consensus
top 5 player in the state.
also been some suggestions that Garfield Height’s Sonny Johnson Jr. may make a
few cameo appearances for Mobley’s team in some of the bigger tournaments.
In any event, All-Ohio’s 2022 team should be
in great shape.
The biggest story for the class of 2023 involves the Blue
Chip All-Stars and a possible Ohio-based team built around LeBron James
Information is still very limited,
but word has it that Ohio’s elite players are being heavily recruited, and a
team will compete in 2016.
We’ve heard a
few individual names, but it’s still way too early to determine the makeup of
Needless to say, if that team
happens as expected, the number 1 spot is up for grabs between Blue Chip,
Cincinnati Royals and All-Ohio Red. Stay tuned for more information.
Also, in preparation for preseason team
rankings, Buckeye Prep is currently talking with coaches in order to build a
foundation for a mid-February release.
Well that’s all for now. In our next installment of
Random Thoughts we will talk about individual players and provide updated
information on next year’s team rosters and potential.