Lamar Ball (ABC7)
To start this conversation off with, “The gym was too packed for Lebron James and his crew to come in and watch,” I think should put the matchup between Big Ballers and SC Supreme as second to none.
This week at the largest AAU basketball showcase in Las Vegas, hundreds live as well as thousands on social media were able to witness Zion Williamson, (#2 recruit in the class of 2018) go head to head against Lavar & Lamelo Ball. Even with Zion’s Youtube-famous dunks that have received millions of views; it was still not enough to be the main spectacle of the game.
This was not only the largest viewing of any AAU basketball game in history, but poses as a marker for what AAU basketball has become, and where it’s insanely lucrative future holds.
Back when I played AAU basketball, to put it nicely, NOBODY CARED! They cared when the less then 1% from that field did make it to the NBA, which was then the time for fame and media attention. Our culture has transitioned to following players at a continually younger age, almost to the point where we have to start factoring in puberty to their “personal development”.
An example of this was Lance Stephenson. Lance has been a very solid NBA player for years now. What many do not realize is Lance was being touted and compared to Micheal Jordan since he was 12 years old.
Obviously we know now that comparison was certainly pre-mature. Yet, comparing any 12 to 14 year old to the greatest basketball player who ever lived is beyond pre-mature.
Now I’m certainly not saying that Zion Williamson and Lamelo Ball wont go on to the next stars of the NBA someday. I am just simply asking the question of when does it become too early to follow kids playing careers before we start slapping on predictions and comparisons to their name?
On the flip side, could this be healthy? Does the age of social media and live-streaming anything anywhere, actually help mature these kids emotionally? Does this process make the lifestyle transition to the NBA easier then ever? When your already carrying yourself as a basketball professional at the age of 16, when you should be carrying yourself as a sophomore in high school, maybe there is a sense preparation that is now instilled.
I would like to say this will be true, as I am not one to diss a business that had done a lot for my personal career, as well as many friends alike. AAU basketball has become untamed in the digital age, as there is no longer a cap on how famous and mature top recruits can become, before stepping foot in a college game.
We all hope it leads to better preparation for the next step in life, instead of a potential roadblock from achieving their ultimate goal.