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Evaluating Players, Parents and Coaches in the 2021 AAU Basketball Season

Published: 2021-07-22
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Cam Dailey has been working with Elite Hoops for three years, and was named Travel Team Director during the Summer of 2018. Dailey played at Tuskegee University, where he averaged 15.5 points and 9.4 assists, while also being ranked in the top 5 in the nation. Dailey also played for Truett-McConnell and Okaloosa-Walton, where he helped lead them to a national championship title in 1995.

Today, Cam joins the SportsEdTV Team to discuss what he is seeing on the court from players, parents and coaches in 2021. 


SportsEdTV: What is the level of play like coming out on this side of the pandemic? 

Cam Dailey: Let's do the pandemic fatigue for everybody first. So first off, let me go into the parents first. While, you know, because people weren't out, they don't have a lot of stuff going on like that. I'm seeing parents yelling at the referees, and the coaches switching their kids teams even more than they were before. I mean, it happens, but it's like now if I'm not getting my way, like, I'm just going to take them somewhere else. I saw a kid switch teams mid-game. Parents, handlers, coaches were killing the game of basketball. We are killing it for our youth and for everything going on. And a lot of people blame like the kids for the way the game is. It's not the kids, it's the adults. We're the ones killing the game because I tell kids all the time, whenever they start ranking kids up, I don't think they enjoy the game anymore because it's just so much pressure. I'm seeing 10, 11 year olds having pressure, like they’re an NBA player and like that the game when they miss depends on their mom and dad getting the check. 

This is how it’s been going: Mark may see a 10 year old at a new game and be like, man, wow, you're pretty good like the parents take that is like, oh wow. An NBA player told my son he's good, we're going to the NBA. So now everything got to be serious. Like we're going to do three workouts a day. We're going to lift weights. We're going to like everything you do because you're now on that course of the NBA player. That is so far from the truth, because I've seen dudes who were in my class who were like top ten dudes, and we don't even hear from them no more. They got burned out when they got to college. Like, it's like you don't even enjoy the sport anymore. And basketball is supposed to be an enjoyable sport. 

And I think with the pandemic, what happened was because people didn't get out enough and get to play. And you being out now is pressure on everybody, like with the kids. I'm saying these tournaments, like they're pressing to make the next great play so somebody will write about them and talk about them. And it's kind of taken away from the game because so much pressure on these kids, because they weren't able to play for you. And then you factor in like with the new rules, with college and the transfer portals and everything. I've talked to so many coaches who said they probably won't even look at a high school kid in the 2025 and 2026 class.

Because there are so many kids in the portal and you can't blame them. Coaches think, “It is my job and I got to win and I've got to feed my family, I got to get people who can come in right away and play. I can't take a high school kid who I got to teach.” And I can tell you this from experience with me. 


SportsEdTV: How is high school and college basketball even moreso a business now-a-days?

Cam Dailey: Because people are looking for, “what is the best team I can play with to get my kid looked at? Not what is the best overall goal for him.” But what I can say is now there's like, “if I don't like what's going on, my son, I'm going to go to create my own reality and we'll find some kids.” So like now in Georgia alone, man, I can't even count. How many teams are you saying? Like, same thing in Florida. But Mark, when you and I were coming up, like, I know for a fact. The three teams you want to play with when I was coming up was like Shamrock, you have the Celtics and then like Team Georgia. It'd be like 400 people in and trying out for two teams at every age group. So you play with the best of the best. And it was 400 people. And if they got cut. Nobody went and found another team to play with, like they just figured out how to get in the gym and get better to try and make the team next year. Now, it's like, OK, I'm going to go to this tryout on Monday, and then another Thursday. And all these teams may offer me, but I'm trying to figure out what's the best thing I can do for me this year.


SportsEdTV: What are some recommendations you have for the parents out there trying to navigate this issue?

Cam Dailey: Listen, this is a recommendation. Let the coaches coach, let the referees referee. The best thing you can tell your kid, “I love watching you play,” when you get in the car, “I love watching you play.” And then maybe over the course of the week, you could give some recommendations, maybe some stuff they may have done wrong, but don't badger them because they've already heard it from their coach, you know, they may have heard from their teammates, they had a bad game. So like the same thing you do when you go home and you decompress, let your kid decompress too because I see so many kids who aren't happy at basketball.

And for me, if you don't know, this game started out as fun. And I eat, sleep, and dream basketball. I got a lot of stuff going on. But like when I was young, my dad, one of the things my dad always taught, my dad was a great baseball player, too. I remember I think my seventh grade year, we playing a new game and I missed a layup and my coach took me out and I had a bad attitude towards the bench because I'm like, man, you know, I missed a layup. I should have made it - and he took me out like, whatever! I'm not going to high five my teammates, I went and sat on the bench. So halftime comes. We're getting ready to walk back outside to go talk. My dad runs across the floor and grabs me. He says, listen. You're going to apologize to your teammates and your coach about your attitude or going home right now. Wow. OK, so I had to apologize to my coach for my attitude and my teammates, and it was better like that was my dad at that time.

What I know now is he was wrong for doing it. A lot of these coaches don't get paid anything and they're doing it for the kindness of their heart because they love basketball. Now some are trying to get to the next level and some may be trying to use your kid to help them get a payday or to the next level. So you've got to find the one, the right organization. And what I mean by that is the right organization that's going to train your kid. It's going to teach your kid the game of basketball is going to have practices that are conducive to him playing or her playing at the next level. What I mean by that is they're not just rolling the basketball out now, playing pickup and like, you just run up and down the court and they're not blowing the whistle and slowing down and teach you nothing. Because what's going to happen with that is you're going to think that's the way it is at every other level. So when you start getting stopped and taught at the high school or the college level, you have no idea what is going on. So what am I learning? And I definitely give kudos to those few organizations that pick out weekends they're going to play, but they practice two or three times out of the week to really teach their kids.