The NCAA prepares to go to war…

against AAU basketball.

The NCAA is ready to make drastic changes to the way high school basketball players are recruited by Division I colleges. The summer evaluation period will reportedly be overhauled, with the goal of lessening the influence shoe company-sponsored grassroots teams and coaches have on recruiting.

According to former ESPN reporter Jeff Goodman on his latest podcast, these changes are set to be recommended by the NABC — National Association of Basketball Coaches — ad hoc committee to Condoleezza Rice’s Commission on College Basketball in August. The recommendations are “expected to be implemented swiftly and without much pushback.”

This is what we know so far:

  • The NCAA will fund and host four regional camps — potentially one in June and one in July — that will feature around 2,000 or 3,000 athletes. These camps will be held on rotating college campuses. The top 700 or so players at these camps will then compete at another camp that the committee hopes will be run by G League coaches, and possibly even college and NBA players.
  • Goodman says the objective is to “try to take some of the power away from AAU coaches and give it back to the high school coaches.” Goodman reports colleges may have more access to events and practices run by high schools in the summer.
  • From Goodman: “The big thing here, according to sources, that’s likely to happen, is that AAU basketball is no more. The coaches wouldn’t be able to go out in July to these shoe sponsored events anymore. That would be the big change if these recommendations come to fruition.”

If there’s one thing the NCAA is good at, it’s snuffing out opposition.  Just ask the NIT.  So I wouldn’t dismiss this outright.  But — and there’s kind of a big one here — there’s more to AAU basketball than shoe companies.  John Infante ($$) points out that the AAU is there to serve a market that high school basketball can’t, namely, that élite basketball recruits want to play nearly year-round to hone their skills.  If you kill the AAU, who fills the vacuum?

I mention this for a couple of reasons.  It’s in an earlier stage, but we’re already hearing words of warning that 7-on-7 football risks going AAU-ish.  If the NCAA intends to clamp down on one, you’d have to think it’s prepared to take similar steps with the other.  Second, the NCAA, schools and coaches are messing with powerful forces in the shoe companies that they also depend upon for some of their incoming revenue.  Go about this in a half-assed way — and this is the NCAA we’re talking about, remember — and you risk some serious blowback.


Filed under The NCAA

6 responses to “The NCAA prepares to go to war…

  1. Gaskilldawg

    My son played basketball at a class A high school. The high school season was about 20 games and the team had about 3 weeks of competition in summer camps. He played AAU as well for a local team. The team did not have a shoe contract and did not have any paid coaches. However, he played in a lot of tournaments and got more games in AAU against much better competition than his high school team did. He enjoyed AAU ball very much.

    He played more games against better competition than high school. I would have hated it if the NCAA had run AAU out of business before he could have played.


  2. ASEF

    Most teams competing at that level are run by dads who used to play almost as volunteers. Conglomerations of the best players in the county or a smattering of them if you’re rural. A very few teams feature all-star casts, a headline sponsor (Chris Paul, Ray Allen, etc.) amd some shoe money.

    The travel circuit is going nowhere. It exists because teams want to play and communities can make money hosting said tournaments. What I would call Caravan AAU (team van, entourage of passenger cars) is going nowhere, no matter what the NCAA does.

    What the NCAA is trying to do is eliminate those few teams that operate professionally at the high school level – call it Jet Set AAU – by offering those elite kids an alternative path to exposure and recruiting. The NCAA’s only leverage is over their own coaches. So, they forbid their coaches to attend a Nike event and force them to a NCAA event instead, hoping the coaches’s presence swings attendance in their favor? Do I read that right?

    If so, good luck with that. The Adidas stuff took down only one head coach, and even that was more along the lines of a “3 strikes, you’re out” circumstance – because of the layers of middlemen involved. Lack of direct connection isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. Plausible deniability.


  3. The AAU vs. the NCAA – a match-up only a meteor could love. Do I have some popcorn ready to watch this?


  4. 86BONE

    Bah Bah Peach Jam…been held at Riverview Park in North Augusta for years. Nike had the First Baptist Church right where they wanted them!


    • KornDawg

      And they just built a new facility for it. I’m sure it’ll get plenty of use throughout the year, but it’ll suck for North Augusta if Peach jam goes away.


  5. DawgPhan

    this seems like a bad idea. Which seems on brand for the NCAA.