Photo Source: PositionSports.com

AAU basketball or grassroots basketball at the prep level is vastly different today than it was 20 years ago. Shoe companies like Nike and Adidas have very big hands in the organization and why wouldn't they? They want other young athletes buying and wearing their products. AAU basketball gives college coaches the opportunity to see would be recruits collectively in one location throughout the summer. It's all about exposure and these kids have become marketable commodities. The style of play often resembles that of an All-Star game with not much defense and plenty of ball hogging. There are also those parents and AAU coaches who have developed reputations as not having the best interests at heart for their players. It's a different world alright. 

 

Nevertheless, we have assembled our list of the top ten AAU basketball programs in the United States. See who your favorite NBA player played for during his high school summers. 

Houston Hoops AAU

10. Houston Hoops

Texas is a huge state and is more known for it's football. However, during the summer time, Texas' best prep players flock to Houston to take part in the state's best AAU basketball program; Houston Hoops. The organization was founded in 1986 and have shown a lot of longevity. Aside from basketball, Houston Hoops stresses academics and offers ACT and SAT prep courses to it's athletes. They are currently coached by Kyle Manary. Like so many other programs on our list, Houston Hoops are part of the prestigious Nike EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League) and compete in Division B. The organization is responsible for many of the summer tournaments and skills academies where top players showcase their talents.

 

Houston Hoops Alumni

Rashard Lewis

Kendrick Perkins

Emeka Okafor

Daniel Gibson

Stephen Jackson

TJ Ford

Desmond Mason

Alton Ford

Damion James

Cartier Martin

Jermichael Finley (Green Bay Packers)

Martellus Bennett (Chicago Bears)

Jai Lucas

 

 

Indiana Elite AAU

 9. Indiana Elite

As rich of a basketball history as Indiana has, it should come as no surprise that their AAU program is top notch as well. The program has produced 6 Mcdonald's All-Americans and 4 NBA players since only 2008. They are based out of Indianapolis where they can constantly attract the city's best prospects. The organization is ran by Criss Beyers and I can guarantee you Tom Crean has him on speed dial. Indiana Elite is sponsored by Adidas.

 

Indiana Elite Alumni

Mason Plumlee

Marshall Plumlee

Cody Zeller

Tyler Zeller

Deandre Liggins

Eric Gordon

Yogi Ferrell

 

 

The Family Detroit AAU

8. The Family Detroit

Detroit's "The Family" are the city's best and most well known AAU organization. Every year their roster features players from powerhouses Southfield High School and Detroit Country Day which produced Chris Webber and Shane Battier. The Family is sponsored by Nike and compete in Division A of the Nike EYBL.  They were formerly coached by current UMass assistant coach Marlon "Smoke" Williamson who had been at the helm of the program for many years.

 

The Family Detroit Alumni

Jordan Crawford

Draymond Green

Zach Randolph

Chris Douglas-Roberts

James Young

Morris Peterson

Malik Hairston

Joe Crawford

Manny Harris

 

 

 

DC Premier AAU

7. DC Premier

The DC Premier program was recently under a lot of scrutiny after it's long time coach Curtis Malone was charged with drug possession and distribution. At the time, the program was known as "DC Assault" and they had always been a historical AAU program throughout the Virginia and Maryland area. After the Malone incident surfaced the program began an affiliation with Under Armour under their new name "DC Premier". Malone was the step father of former Duke and Portland Trail Blazers guard Nolan Smith. Nolan Smith is the son of the late Derek Smith.

DC Premier recently won the Las Vegas Fab 48 title and are directed by Mike Sumner and Damon Handon.

 

DC Premier Alumni

Keith Bogans

Michael Beasley

Joe Forte

Jeff Green

Nolan Smith

Dermarr Johnson

Quinn Cook

Kendall Marshall

James White

 

 

 

Athletes First AAU

6. Athletes First

Athletes First is the premier AAU program in the state of Oklahoma and are based out of Oklahoma City. They are sponsored by Nike and are the only Nike sanctioned team in the state.  The team currently boasts the nation's number one prospect in Allonzo Trier. They were founded by Dr. Calvin Johnson in 1998. In a state not known for it's basketball, Dr. Johnson wanted to provide local athletes with the opportunity to compete and get noticed on the national level. Athletes First currently competes in Division C of the Nike EYBL.

 

Athletes First Alumni

Blake Griffin

Shelden Williams

Kelenna Azubuike

Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams)

Robert Meachem (New Orleans Saints)

Ekpe Udoh

Daniel Orton

Xavier Henry

J.R. Giddens

 

 

 

Oakland Soldiers AAU

5. Oakland Soldiers

The Oakland Soldiers operate under Scholar Athletes Inc. which is a non profit organization that stresses the discipline needed to become a student athlete. They were founded in 1990 by two recent college graduates for at risk kids in the Bay Area. The team hosts the annual Oakland Slam n Jam events. They were named the "Soldiers" after the activist group, the Black Panthers.  Rumor has it that Tupac Shakur once recorded a song for the team called "Soulja's Story" (Shakur's mother was a black panther). Most of their talent pool lies in the Northern California and Oregon region. The Oakland Soldiers are sponsored by Nike, directed by Mark Olivier and currently compete in Division B of the Nike EYBL.

 

Oakland Soldiers Alumni

Lebron James

Brandon Jennings

Leon Powe

Drew Gooden

Chuck Hayes

Aaron Gordon

Mark Madsen

Chauncey Billups

Kendrick Perkins

Nick Johnson

Eddie House

Matt Barnes

Kyle Wiltjer

 

 

 

Atlanta Celtics AAU

4. Atlanta Celtics

Like Texas and Oklahoma, Georgia is more known for producing top tier football prospects. Don't get it twisted. There is a hot bed of basketball talent throughout the Atlanta area. In fact, the Celtics compete against their rival Georgia Stars for Georgia's top talent during the summer months. The organization was founded in 1990 and like many of the other organizations, the Celtics stress heavily on academics. During the summer of 2003, the Celtics boasted perhaps one of the best AAU teams in history with Dwight Howard, Josh Smith and Randolph Morris on the same team. All three went on to become McDonald's All Americans and NBA players. The Celtics are coached by Karl Mccray and compete on the Adidas sponsored circuit.

 

Atlanta Celtics Alumni

Dwight Howard

Amare Stoudemire

Joe Johnson

Josh Smith

Randolph Morris

Derrick Favors

Brandon Rush

Desaqana Diop

Travis Outlaw

Darius Washington

Ismael Muhammad

Leonard Pope (Arizona Cardinals)

 

 

 

NJ Playaz Basketball Club AAU

3. NJ Playaz Basketball Club

The NJ Playaz Basketball Club is often referred to as the "PBC". Their program was formerly the Paterson AAU team (Pat Cats) out of Paterson, New Jersey. The Pat Cats were founded in 1993 before becoming the Playaz in 1997. For a brief time, they were also known as the "Tim Thomas Playaz". The NJ Playaz currently compete in Division C of the Nike EYBL. Depending on the age group, the Playaz designate their teams by the colors; gold, red, black and white. Aside from the New York Gauchos, the Playaz are the premier AAU team in the entire Northeast.

 

NJ Playaz Alumni

Kobe Bryant

Vince Carter

Kenneth Faried

Tim Thomas

Gerald Henderson

Kyle Anderson

Kyle Lowry

Dahntay Jones

Wayne Ellington

Victor Cruz (New York Giants)

Earl Clark

Dajuan Wagner

Eddie Griffin

Brevin Knight

 

 

 

Boo Williams AAU

2. Boo Williams AAU

The Boo Williams AAU team has a strong legacy and tradition. The team is based in the Hampton Roads/Norfolk VA area. Like the Oakland Soldiers, Boo Williams also hosts it's own Summer League which draws more than 200 AAU basketball teams every summer. The team is named after Marcellus Spencer "Boo" Williams who was a basketball standout at Hampton's Phoebus High School and St. Joseph's University. After a professional basketball stint in Europe, Williams returned home to Hampton in 1982 and started the Boo Williams Summer League with only $400. In 2008, he opened the Boo Williams Sportsplex, a $13 million facility with eight basketball courts. Talk about giving back.  Boo Williams AAU is sponsored by Nike and currently competes in Division C of the Nike EYBL.

 

Boo Williams Alumni

Allen Iverson

Alonzo Mourning

JJ Redick

Patrick Patterson

Joe Smith

Ed Davis

Jarrett Jack

Kendall Marshall

Greivis Vasquez

Mike Scott

 

 

 

New York Gauchos AAU

1. New York Gauchos

Basketball may trace it's roots to Springfield, Massachusetts. But we all know that it was New York City that perfected it. The New York Gauchos program was founded way back in 1967 as an after school program for inner city youth. The program was headed by Argentinian immigrant Louis d' Almeida and was a branch of the Westside YMCA.  The Gauchos have their own gym on Gerard Avenue in the Bronx and offer after school tutoring and mentoring and training for the ACT and SAT. The program is managed and funded by the Teamwork Foundation, Inc. and are a non-profit organization.

The Gauchos used to have classic match-ups with the Riverside Church Hawks, a now defunct AAU organization. The team is not sponsored and do not compete in the Nike EYBL. They are coached by Dwayne Mitchell who once coached at former New York City powerhouse Rice High School. Their long list of NBA alumni is astonishing as you can see. These players are what helped mold the Gauchos entire America's best and most storied AAU program.

 

New York Gauchos Alumni

Mark Jackson

Stephon Marbury

Kenny Anderson

John Salley

Chris Mullin

Sebastian Telfair

Doron Lamb

Jamal Mashburn

Kemba Walker

Taj Gibson

Rod Strickland

Ed Pinckney

Dwayne "Pearl" Washington

Felipe Lopez

Sundiata Gaines

 

 

Honorable Mention Teams

  • Mac Irvin Fire
  • Illinois Warriors
  • Howard Pulley
  • E1T1
  • Team Takeover

 

 

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