Mike Flynn is an original on the girls basketball circuit. He goes back to the 70's and is currently one of the most powerful men in the sport today. His recruitment report is used by colleges across the country and his summer events are generally recognized as being among the most respected.
Mr. Flynn posted the following response to a Wall Street Journal story about the evils of the current youth basketball system. The article has been copied, pasted and recited as fact by almost every AAU bashing coach in America. Mr. Flynn was around before the influx of travel teams and offers a different perspective on his blog:
"This is a bold face lie – the college coaches demanded this “play” model when they decided to quit the skills and drills camp circuit back in the late 80s to “watch kids play instead of camp drills.” They should not get a free pass on this as they told parents and coaches this is what they wanted, thinking they could focus on only the kids who played in a “real game.” Hence, the desire to win, play your best, and travel coaches (not AAU only) went out and started to get the best players to win on a summer circuit the college coaches wanted. Once those travel coaches won, and went out and recruited earlier for talent, those individuals became the key influencers in that young athlete’s life. The next domino in that was the ability of college coaches and agents to create “relationships” with said travel coaches of influence. Once the focus to win is primary and the time commitment for drills is secondary as demanded by the college coaches, you can not ask American basketball to all of a sudden adopt the Euro model which is set for a smaller basketball population of talent that has NO academic pressure to “go to college.” Now, everyone wants that model but without explaining what the real challenges to adoption are. They want to paint the AAU and the shoe companies in the same brush without an analysis of how we got here. The AAU had events and the teams played and practiced between Summer Camps and Local Summer Leagues. When the “summer model” changed from camps to all-out play, the AAU was a system that was developed to go play in so they get smashed for being a vehicle to give the college coaches what they wanted. Those same college coaches who were “working with shoe companies” and had influence to get the American summer model changed to play knew those new travel coaches had the connections and energy to recruit early and build relationships. Why not ”help them out” in their work by getting sponsorship for them. While that may seem ”horrible” to some, it enabled a growth of basketball talent as you can never walk away from the 10,000 hour rule in this sport either. You can complain about how those relationships between shoe companies, travel coaches and college coaches may have developed into but this is what that first domino to change the old American summer model of basketball developed now to. Do we need change, heck yes, but all I hear are issues and no one wants to offer solutions except for a web site to make money. People can complain all they want but American Youth Basketball didn’t lose in Athens nor Beijing – but that’s another tangent. Mr. Van Gundy talks about six hours in the gym. Where can you do that in America and not have to pay for it? And, who’s working with you? ghosts? In Europe those coaches are paid to work out with the talent. The only paid coaches are those few high school coaches who want to work with their kids (if the HS rules permit) or college coaches. If a Travel Coach works kids out he’s a shark. Mr. Beasley is now rewarded by a flawed system that helped him become rich without the Euro model. It’s stories like this that’s easy to read like a People Magazine cover. Real solutions are out there but will the real powers of basketball want to upset the apple cart of relationships developed these past 20 years? "— Mike