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CHANGING THE MI AAU GIRLS BASKETBALL LANDSCAPE

Michigan AAU Girls Basketball is a shadow of what it used to be just five or ten years ago. Girls that are considered so-called "good basketball players" nowadays, would be on someone's B-Team back then. There were always good athletes, then and now; but in days past -- they worked harder, they were genuinely more skilled, and there was no hype about it...Just truth.

There were also more teams, statewide; and better coaches and coaching. Most of this has deteriorated into the current state of Michigan AAU Girls Basketball teams and players. At the Regional-Level (with the 4-6 states that neighbor Michigan), fewer than 15% of our teams can compete with their counterparts. And at the National-Level, it's fewer than 4%. The overall product of highly-skilled girls basketball player in Michigan is poor. The events of recent years has revealed strong evidence that the nature of the basketball, the philosophy of clubs, team sturcture (and groups are formed), and the athletes themselves supports this conclusion. Our organization, having been involved in Michigan AAU for close to twenty years, has observed all of this. The declining cascade of relevance for our athletes and the quality of basketball they play served as a moment we took to make some changes in these areas; and S.E.L.E.C.T. is our offering to serve this purpose.

The 2011 Spring In-State and Summer Travel Season will be the Fourth for the S.E.L.E.C.T. nameplate. In our initial 2008 S.E.L.E.C.T. Season we had "mixed" team of 11th and 12th graders. By the time that Spring/Summer ended, all seven of the seniors (the 2008 graduates) had been presented with opportunities to be college athletes. Two seasons later, it's become a pattern that we've repeated with high levels of success. The 2009 and 2010 Graduating Classes ALL were offered college basketball opportunities, and ALL of them went on to become college athletes That's 100%. Few other Michigan AAU Clubs can make such a statement. We know, with all certitude, that what we're doing with S.E.L.E.C.T. is exactly what Michigan AAU needs.

With these levels of measurable success in place, we have abandoned any "developmental" or "recreational" aspect to our team-building. We are exclusively for college prospects; and we only deal with high-school aged athletes. Our belief is that only by that age and time in a player's career can our expertise and experience best serve the athlete. The ultimate trifecta of Exposure (to college coaches through competition at high-level events), Coaching (with a unique and special system of play), and Training (to constantly provide challenge and supplement improvement) is part of the promise to every one of our teams. The greatest test to what we are accomplishing with our teams, in our hopes to get more girls involved with us, is the present state of understanding that people (parents and players) have about basketball, AAU, and themselves.

Changing that is going to require some "re-programming" of both player and parent; and some tough truths for our coaches and officers to convey to them. Everyone isn't ready for that. We can't best serve any member if we're only telling them what they "want to hear." It can't just be words -- that we assume everyone will buy into, understand and accept. No. The membership all have pre-formed opinions about basketball. They have well-reviewed beliefs on what things a good player does, what constitutes a good team, what attributes make a good coach, etc. Most of these are based on some benchmark established from their own experiences as a player, from association with others whom they identify meet said criteria, or from a comfort-level arrived at through years in school, community or youth recreation programs. Add to this, the fact that many have been through AAU (are AAU-savvy); thus the "programming" that's already in place, based on prior teams and experiences (good and bad.) In short, they’re “wired”, in a particular fashion, for their understanding of basketball in a broad sense, for team dynamics in a specific sense, and for AAU and it’s impact on themselves (or their child) in a personal sense. Which is not to say that the notions or views the player or parent have are inaccurate. Just that what we’re trying to accomplish, and the way we're doing it, without doubt, will be “different” than what most are accustomed to. Changing the Landscape of Michigan AAU Girls Basketball means getting better at our mission to promote basketball and these athletes, both Statewide, Regionally, and Nationally. This can only be accomplished when the youngsters and their families are given honest feedback and real information. These two things are the foundation to providing the best possible opportunity to make their goals and dreams happen. Everyone must know completely what is in store for them, and what they absolutely must prepare for, to see it though to the end.

Our method of player development, and our specialized training ideas, are challenging in ways the althete cannot imagine. The relationship between talent and tactics is a BIG part of this. To help prospects visualize this, we like to say: "Talent is a gun, Tactics is knowing where and when to pull the trigger." At the college level, EVERYONE is athletic, aggressive, quick, can jump, wants to win, plays hard and gets after it. Those things DO NOT make you special anymore. If these were the advantages the player enjoyed in high school-ball -- she has a huge wake-up call coming.

So as we move forward with our "new chapter" in the growth for Michigan AAU Girls Basketball, Legion-SELECT is very optimistic about what our organization's impact can be for those girls who seek us out. Michigan AAU can and does serve a purpose for girls basketball players as a whole, but for those that are wanting to move on, the time has come to be a lot more selective and intelligent about what your options are. Remember, this is about becoming a student-athlete at the college level. The college recruiting process is not as mysterious as it seems, but it does require some specific types of attention, communication, and relationship-building. It demands that you are more than just tall, quick, have a good handle, can shoot three pointers, or play hard. Most players and parents don't really know what it takes. That's what Legion-SELECT exists for.