Friday, October 28, 2016

Ohio Welcomes New Under Armour Program

For as long as we can remember, 3 shoe company sponsored basketball programs have dominated the state of Ohio. Until recently, All-Ohio (Nike), King James (Nike) and the Ohio Basketball Club (Adidas) have been the only options in terms participation in elite basketball circuits. Things are about to get very interesting, as staring with the 2017 season, the Buckeye State will have a fresh new option when Quincy Simpson’s C2K Elite program hits the courts.

Simpson’s vision for his Commitment 2 Kids Elite program revolves around player development, athletically, academically and spiritually.  Having coached and trained many of the state’s elite players for several years, Simpson has always strived to run a program that emphasized more than just “rolling out the ball.”  Moreover, as he has done as head coach of the very successful Lima Senior High School program (LSH) and as the lead man for the 2016 King James Shooting Stars, Simpson wants to create a “family atmosphere” with his new program.  “Our teams will practice, develop, have academic sessions and will do community service. This will truly be a family, the same way my family is with LSH,” Simpson said.

According to Simpson, in year one, his program will be fully sponsored and will field teams in 3 grade divisions 2020 through 2018.  Each of the 3 teams will play in some capacity on the Under Armour Association (UAA), an elite circuit similar to Nike’s EYBL and Adidas’ Gauntlet. With the arrival of Simpson’s program, the UAA will give Ohio players another national stage in which to compete at an elite level, while also playing in front of college coaches and scouting services.  Simpson and his organizational team is already busy developing rosters, a schedule, website and social media accounts in preparation of the upcoming season.  In addition, Simpson has already secured commitments from many of the state’s elite players, coaches and established programs.  As an example, Chris Anthony, coach of the very successful 2020 Ohio Bulldogs program will bring his roster of studs, and will coach the U-15 team, while Steve Wright will coach the U-16 team and Simpson will coach the 2018 squad.

With 4 shoe company-sponsored programs in the state (yes, Drew Joyce will still be in the game in some capacity), the obvious question is can the state produce enough talent to field 4 elite level teams. We asked All-Ohio’s Jerry Watson this same question.  “We’ll have to see,” said Watson.  “People will have to project talent better [in order to find enough kids],” Watson said.  “They [Under Armour] are coming into a tough market.  We’ll have to gage their success after they go through the first season to see how they do,” Watson continued.  We posed the same questions to Nike’s John Stovall and he was a bit skeptical.  “It all depends.  You can field as many teams as you like; the questions is, can you field enough teams to be successful at the national circuit level,” questioned Stovall.

OBC’s Mike Duncan believes that state has enough talent for a 4th program. “I think there’s enough. To be honest, it’s all about coaching. If you can get good coaches and you practice [you can be successful],” said Duncan.  “If you can get 3 D-Is [division I players] and a couple of D-IIs, you can win,” continued Duncan. “We will have to see,” Duncan said.  We also spoke with Ken Taylor, coach of the 2019 King James team, who is also skeptical of Ohio’s ability to field 4 elite teams. “The population is just not there. We’re not Chicago or New York. Will the teams be watered down? With out a doubt,” Taylor said. Although he doubts there’s enough talent to go around, Taylor acknowledges that Under Armour’s presence in Ohio will “create more opportunities for Ohio kids to play with other top kids and to be seen.”

By most accounts, a new Under Armour program in the state is a win-win situation for Ohio basketball, and represents a tremendous opportunity to raise the profile of Ohio basketball.  Although there will be challenges for the fledging program, the sky is the limit for Simpson’s program.  Continue to follow Buckeye Prep for updates on the program’s progress.

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