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AAU and Scouting

On the NorCalPreps message board, I read this comment by a user. This user has a very talented son, I don’t know his ranking, so take it with a grain of salt. However, I do not disagree with any of his comments:

I was in Denver this past weekend for a major AAU/Elite Club Tournament…I saw several top players play this weekend who are RANKED HIGHLY by these various SCOUTING SERVICES and I was alarmed by what I saw and what I read about the PLAYERS’ RANKING!!

I saw Player A, who is ranked, make bonehead decisions, played no defense, and played selfishly, but, Scout A covering the event, wrote that Player A was “impressive.”

This is what I remembered Player A did that was consistent with what Scout A wrote: Player had one dunk and made a three point shot. So, I said to myself, “So, this what makes a HS BASKETBALL PLAYER, playing on the AAU/Elite Travel Team circuit great?” If you can DUNK, make a 3 POINT SHOT, and score the MOST POINTS, you WILL get RANKED HIGH!”Not to be overly sensitive to my new found revelation, I continued to watch these HIGHLY RANKED PLAYERS over course of the weekend and true to form, SCOUT A and his buddies validated my aforestated analysis. If you can DUNK a basketball (it shows how athletic you are), make a 3-POINT SHOT (this shows that you are great shooter beyond the arc) and SCORE all the POINTS in the game, you willget RANKED, period!!

It makes no difference to Scout A and his buddies that you do not pass the ball to your teammates, rebound, defend and/or have a BRAIN!! All they (SCOUTS) care about or want to know is this: Can he DUNK? Can he MAKE the 3? Did he SCORE all the POINTS?

MEMO TO HS PLAYERS, COACHES and PARENTS: This is the NEW DEAL: If you want to be a RANKED PLAYER, HE must be able to do the following: DUNK the BALL; MAKE the 3, beyond NBA range (i.e. you do not have to be consistent and you take as many shots you want until you make one) and SCORE all the POINTS in the GAME!! Oh, by the way, SCOUTS do not care if your TEAM WINS of LOSES, just make sure you fulfill the three requirements listed above!!

I have argued with several of the top West Coast scouts over the years, so I do not disagree that they often make mistakes and typically put too much emphasis on athleticism and scoring. Unfortunately, so do college coaches.

I talked to Jim Clayton of Sports City U in Huntington, West Virginia and we talked about many of the same things. Many players peak at 12 or 13-years-old. People believe that they improve as they grow and get older, but for many, they just add size, not skill.

However, my favorite part of the thread is this comment:

I just do not think you can evaluate a kid fully on the AAU level.

Now I am confused. Every time I question these tournaments and ranking services, I am told that they are important evaluation tools for colleges. The entire system is designed to make recruiting easier for college coaches. And, now people suggest this is not the best way to evaluate players?

If we can agree that these games are not the best way for players to improve, and now we agree that they are not the best way to evaluate, why are so many people so committed to maintaining the status quo AAU/exposure environment?

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