DC Blue Devils 16-under head coach Brian Inge during a Blue Devils practice
When it comes to AAU basketball, many have opinions as far as if its good for kids growth in basketball or if its isn't? Critics from every level of basketball have spoken loudly about how AAU basketball is killing the college and pro game. While, there are bad seeds planted in the ever evolving grassroots level of basketball, there are also those who genuinely are involved to help kids maximize their potential on and off the court. The genuine individuals usually are voiceless against the frequent attacks. I thought, why not change that? Why not have coaches who have been involved with AAU at the highest level and who are truly dedicated to the development of players give a inside perspective as to what it's all about. Enter Brian Inge. Inge is an assistant basketball coach at Bishop McNamara High School and is also the coach for the DC Blue Devils 16-under team, one of the top 16-under teams in the country. So without further delay here is an introduction into whats to come from Inge throughout the summer on our Inside the Circuit series. - Finest Magazine CEO Cardell Dudley
You Think You Know But You Have No Idea
Everyone gets this AAU thing so misconstrued. I always see people bash AAU coaches and summer basketball in general and before I was so deep into it, I probably thought the same thing. But the thing is…. Its not what you think, at least within my organization and the other programs that I affiliate with. You often hear about the lack of teaching and skill development in AAU. You also hear about the ‘murky’ figures lurking around AAU gyms. This makes me laugh, it really does. In DC, that really isn’t the issue. The organization I affiliate myself with, the DC Blue Devils are heavy in skill development and teaching. Our 16u and 17u teams have at least three head coaches on each staff with 16u having a former NBA player and 17u having a former college coach on staff. To be quite honest, we have had people complain that we teach TOO much and that we need to “Let the kids play”. That was the early criticism... before we started the spring 8-1. Of course summer basketball is about exposure, but it's also about getting better as a player. To be in our program you can't just show up and play, you must WORK on being a better player consistently. Skill development and teaching is a necessary requirement. This holds true for teams such as Team Takeover, DC Premier, New World and pretty much every local team in DC, Maryland(Baltimore) and Virginia.
AAU has had it's issues, although, with the introduction of league play started by Nike’s EYBL and adopted by Under Armour, Adidas and now Hoop Group and Powerade, the summer game is in the best shape it has ever been in. The objective of summer basketball is to help these kids get college scholarships. The more teams that are playing competitive meaningful basketball the better. Do things happen behind closed doors that outsiders may criticize? Maybe, maybe not, but that's in every business. Grassroots basketball is a business...the business to help kids get in school yet the coaches and administrators who give up their valuable time are rarely paid and often LOSE hard earned money to help these kids get an opportunity to change their lives.
You want to see how things really work? Great, keep an open mind because I will give you my honest opinion and insight of what it's like to manage a high level program. The games, the practices, the travel, the parents, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And things can get ugly when strong minded people who have had success doing things a certain way come together to work towards a common goal. Welcome to the world of AAU through the lens of the DC Blue Devils, I hope you enjoy.
Follow Brian Inge on IG @Binge0
On Twitter @TheRealBdotInge
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