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A Guide to AAU Basketball

You’ve probably heard a lot about AAU basketball from friends or teammates and how it’s a prime opportunity to compete against some of the best players in the sport. But did you also know that AAU sports can help you hone the skills you’ll need to get recruited for college basketball? Yes, it’s true. The fierce competition of AAU basketball could prep you for the top-notch competition of college basketball.   

 Below we’ll give a quick overview of what is AAU basketball and everything else you need to know about the sport.  

What is AAU basketball?

AAU basketball is an independent group of players that form teams to compete against each other in tournaments.  

Athletes in various sports have taken advantage of AAU sign-ups since it was formed in 1888. Originally, the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) played a significant role in selecting American athletes for the Olympics before the organization transitioned to youth sports in the late 1970s. Today, AAU membership is nearly three-quarters of a million strong with AAU basketball being arguably the most famous of its sports offerings.  

Several of the country’s best athletes play AAU basketball, with the quality of many AAU teams being top of the line. Their players compete against the best while learning how to be a part of a team of equally skilled athletes.  AAU basketball tournaments offer playing opportunities outside of high school hoops. In many cases, AAU basketball is better competition than high school basketball. This is especially true if the player’s high school has a poor performing team. 

What does it take to play on AAU basketball teams? The good news is that you should be able to find AAU basketball squads that fit your ability level, regardless of what that is. Of course, if you want to play with the best, then you need to be able to bring a lot to the table to earn spots and playtime on top teams. 

AAU basketball tournaments

AAU basketball tournaments take place throughout the country. Most AAU basketball tournaments are scheduled from March-October, outside of the high school season, with a focus on April-July. This timing also allows college coaches to scout and recruit players during their off-season.  

The AAU also organizes a considerable number of AAU basketball nationals. The age ranges of these events start at the 7 & Under category and go up to AAU basketball players in their late teens. AAU basketball nationals generally occur in July, many being played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

The number and variety of AAU basketball tournaments held elsewhere and at other times of the year is impressive. Players and teams signing up should note how many games are guaranteed and the quality of the teams that are expected to participate. The cost per team per tournament tends to range from around $100-$700. It would be best if you also took note of the thousands of non-AAU youth basketball tournaments held. 

These competitions provide several benefits for AAU basketball players. The most significant one is being able to play several games in a short period of time against opposition that is generally similar in skill level to your own. Depending on the event, you might also be able to showcase your skills to one or more college coaches.  

AAU basketball districts

If you’re asking yourself, “Are there AAU basketball teams near me?” the answer is most likely, “Yes.” Teams are in 56 districts throughout the country. Although many of these are identical to state borders, such as the districts covering Georgia, Iowa, Colorado, and Arizona, many others are not.  

For example, the Missouri Valley district includes not only the entire state of Kansas but also half of the state of Missouri. Conversely, some more populated states are home to several districts. Texas is split into five districts, one of which also includes the entire state of New Mexico. Look at the AAU basketball district map to learn more about your home district before signing up for AAU membership. 

AAU basketball teams schedules and rankings

If you’re looking for AAU basketball rankings, the best places to go are often the individual districts’ official websites. For example, Indiana provides team rankings for various age groups. AAU basketball schedules are usually included on those websites as well. In addition, the national office offers details on its national championship events

AAU basketball players tend not to be ranked. But rankings of the top high school players are often quite helpful as many, if not all, will also play on AAU basketball squads. 

When does AAU basketball start?  

The elementary and middle school season starts in March and lasts through late June. The high school season begins in March and ends in July, with a break in June.

The focus of AAU basketball season is generally on weekend tournaments, with teams playing around 3-5 games on Saturdays and Sundays. 

AAU basketball memberships and tryouts

AAU basketball membership costs $14 or $16 annually from September 1 to August 31. The extra $2 that you could pay when completing your AAU sign-up would cover the costs of extended coverage. AAU membership also allows players to take part in a variety of other sports in addition to basketball. 

AAU basketball tryouts often incur an additional cost. These prices can vary, but consider $25 to be a rough guideline. Note that the cost generally includes access to several tryouts, not just one, that the organization is conducting. You are encouraged to participate in many tryouts. It’s typically the best way for you to get on the best teams and receive the top competition. At the tryout, be prepared to be tested physically and mentally in individual and team settings. Perform your best, as the intention of a tryout is to ensure that you are placed on a team that best fits you. 

To find AAU basketball squads to try out for, head to your local district’s official website. New England AAU Basketball has a useful tool for doing so. If information is not there, contact your local district to see if they have any information on tryouts in your area. Also, use the AAU’s national office tool to take full advantage of your AAU membership. 

How competitive is AAU basketball?

AAU basketball is very competitive. Players will come across other teams that may be better than they are, resulting in challenging games and even more brutal losses. But any great athlete will take those losses in stride and learn from them. 

AAU basketball pros and cons

Before taking advantage of AAU membership, it is essential to consider its pros and cons. 

The pros and cons of AAU basketball

If you are a top player looking to be recruited by the best basketball colleges, AAU basketball events provide some of the best competition. It prepares you for college hoops and exposes your skills to college coaches. Both factors might not be available if you play high school basketball. AAU basketball experience can also offer an avenue towards impressing those involved with the Junior Basketball Association, which is important if you want a non-college option. However, if you play in the Junior Basketball Association, you will be ineligible for NCAA basketball. 

One of the cons is that many teams do not offer much practice time and winning tends to be a substantial focus for some coaches, as opposed to developing players. Of course, it is important to know how to win games and trophies, but you also need to improve your core skills to improve the odds that you will be ready for college-level basketball. Also, the quality of AAU basketball coaching is not consistent. Make sure to research any clubs you are considering working with to find the top AAU basketball coaches. 

Another con to consider before garnering AAU membership is that playing in AAU basketball tournaments can add up. Although the cost of an AAU membership is not significant, playing in several tournaments is, sometimes reaching thousands of dollars for a top player in any given summer. Costs to transport and accommodate teams and players should be considered as well. But note that many AAU basketball teams offer some financial assistance, so include that as a factor to consider during your research process.  

AAU youth basketball to college basketball

Numerous players make the transition from AAU basketball to college basketball every year. If you are also looking to transition from basketball to college basketball, get started on the process now if you are in high school. That is because the recruiting process should start your freshman year of high school. Although college coaches cannot contact you, you can reach out to them. 

You should also consider the general expectations for other players looking to move on from AAU basketball into the college game. For example, a center looking to join an NCAA Division I roster should be about 6’10” or taller and average around 12-15 points and 8-10 rebounds per game. Also, a point guard wanting to play D1 hoops should be around 6’2″ and average at least 10 points and about 6-8 assists per game. Of course, those figures can vary, especially when different levels of competition are accounted for, but they are baseline standards. 

To successfully navigate the college basketball recruiting process, you should check out your options as you transition from AAU basketball to the college game. 

NCSA and AAU basketball

NCSA College Recruiting has provided several benefits to those with aspirations of playing on college rosters in various sports since its founding in 1980. In the decades that have followed, the NCSA network has increased considerably. Not only do 25,000 NCSA athletes commit to a college for sports every year, but 40,000 coaches also use its services to help fill out their rosters. 

As a result of the quality of the services that NCSA has offered, it has received a considerable number of positive reviews, including an average Google Reviews score of 4.9 out of 5 stars, with more than 2,000 reviews being considered in that ranking. This is due to how much those at NCSA value finding the best fit for those on both sides of the recruiting process. Not only do they want to ensure that players find fits on the teams and in the colleges and communities that work for them, but they also want coaches to be happy with the types of players they will have playing for them over the next few years. 

If you would like to take advantage of these services and place yourself on a college basketball roster at a top university, please fill out your free NCSA profile today!