Sports

AAU basketball gives players high-quality experience

Fifth-grader Ryan Alford goes for a basket from three-point range. Alfords coach Max Greene said three-pointers are something his players do on their own at this age. We practice short-range shots, Greene explained of his fundamentals-based philosophy. -
Fifth-grader Ryan Alford goes for a basket from three-point range. Alfords coach Max Greene said three-pointers are something his players do on their own at this age. We practice short-range shots, Greene explained of his fundamentals-based philosophy.
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MARYSVILLE While the fifth-grade Marysville basketball team takes a 60-second timeout in their game against Stanwood, a handful of players from the sixth-grade team run onto the court and starting shooting baskets.
Apparently, there is no timeout too short for shooting around when you love basketball.
Thats the hope, anyway, for Kevin Brady and the other parents and coaches who help manage the Marysville AAU basketball program for fifth- through eighth-graders. According to Brady, the AAU program is intended to provide an opportunity for kids to hone their basketball skills. And aside from the city parks and recreation league, there is no other outlet for kids to play until seventh grade, when the three Marysville middle schools open their basketball program to students.
These four teams play a schedule designed to resemble the high schools Wesco North league. On Feb. 9, Marysville hosted Stanwood.
The leagues model is no accident. Marysville joined the Wesco-like league to help kids get ready for the high school program. The coaches try teaching the same offensive scheme used by M-P coach Bary Gould, and by drawing kids from Marysville, Totem and Cedarcrest middle schools, a camaraderie blossoms across schools.
But many of the kids already know each other from other sports.
Eleven-year-old Landon Riker joined the fifth-grade team this year for the first time after playing in the parks and rec league in the past. According to his dad Jim, the family learned about the AAU team during the Little League season and joined this year to help Landon improve his game.
He really likes baseball and basketball, Riker said of his son, adding that the two share of love of sports. When he was two, he was bouncing a ball in the kitchen.
While many kids join AAU because theyre serious about basketball, Brady said he encourages players to pick up another sport.
On my team, they all do more than basketball, he added of the team of sixth-graders. In the spring they play baseball. In the fall they play something else.
Im a believer I want my kids to play all three sports, Brady said, adding of his son KJ, In the winter, basketball is his favorite sport. In the spring, baseball is his favorite sport.
Coaches and parents seemed to agree while athletics require a great deal of time, it has its rewards.
For Lamar Stell, whose youngest son Deion plays on Bradys team, all three of his sons have played sports, and the sacrifice has been worthwhile. His philosophy?
You tell me you want to do it, Ill help you do it, as long as you put in the work, Stell said.
Marysville hosts its next home series Feb. 23 at the Jim Linden Fieldhouse. All games are free and open to the public.

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