AAU Basketball took over the air waves of the sport about the dawn of the 21st century. Of course, AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) isn't the only travel league for basketball these days. There's the AYBT, the YBOA and so and so forth - but AAU is the foundation that gets the most attention, is the most renowned, and is also the most expensive when it comes to dolling out money (at every level from the players to the corporations).
This arises a very interesting point: There is so much money involved in AAU basketball that the whole "summer" sport becomes extremely political. Players are forced out, forced in, and paid to play. Nike, and the bigger players that run whole tournaments in places like Las Vegas doll out massive amounts of money to these AAU events because it offers great advertising. That means that they want the best players on the best teams, and there is a lot of lockout of other players.
A Couple Things About AAU
In AAU there is no defense that is played whatsoever. There is actually more defense played at the park sometimes, and AAU is more like a 4 season long showcase of your skills to colleges coaches these days. The person with the ball in their hands shoots, and the rest typically sit around and watch.
For this reason AAU becomes less of a team sport than your normal basketball league. In high school sports, during the regular season, there is a lot more continuity in terms of strategy. Coaches keep their players more disciplined, and it becomes more of a team sport. Even if you use effective league management software, this becomes very hard to do in AAU.
Another thing that has happened with the evolution of the AAU platform is that coaches are now recruiting during the summer months instead of when they really get to see who is shining the best which would be the winter months. Do you think that recruiting in the summer is better for college basketball or do you think it makes it worse? So many players are able to fall through the cracks and get D1 scholarships however so it does definitely have some benefits.
Like anything else in the world, AAU basketball is a tradeoff. It has some positives and it has some negatives. What do you think? Is AAU basketball good or bad for the sport?
This article was written by Philip Rudy. Philip played college basketball and AAU basketball for many years in his youth.