Who is the best AAU program in Ohio? This is a fiercely debated question. There are dozens of AAU programs in Ohio, and the competition to recruit the state’s best high school basketball players is intense. Unfortunately, there’s no state tournament or major AAU event where the top Ohio programs are able to play each other. If there was such an event, this question would be easier to answer.
The closest thing Ohio has to a state tournament for AAU is Ohio’s Best Basketball League (OBBL). Some of the teams participating in the OBBL include: Hidden Gems, Ohio Basketball Club (OBC), Ohio Elite, Ohio Gators, ABU Elite, DB Hoops, Ohio Varsity and Team One. Based on what we can find about the play in the OBBL, OBC is the best program out if this group, as they have dominated the competition at every age level since the inception of this league.
However, there are many other good programs that do not participate in the OBBL such as King James, SMAC, TNBA, Team Work, Northwest Ohio and All-Ohio. So who’s the best? This remains a very difficult question to answer. Also, how does one define what makes a program the best?
From the games we have watched over the years it’s pretty clear to us that the best four programs in Ohio in no particular order are – Team Work, OBC, All-Ohio and King James. We came to this conclusion based on the level of the completion they play during the spring and summer, their success against their opponents, and the number of college-caliber players they carry on their rosters. This analysis was done for the 15U, 16U and 17U teams for each program for the 2014 season.
Since the main focus of Ohhoops.org is to evaluate and attempt to list the top players in Ohio based on college potential, we feel defining the best AAU program should place significant weight on how many players from a program play in college and at what level.
Evaluating the college placement of AAU players, three programs stand head and shoulders above the rest. All-Ohio, King James, and OBC have a tremendous amount of success in placing their players in Division 1 basketball programs. In fact, it appears that to even get on one of these rosters, a player needs to be identified as a Division 1 prospect. Nearly every player who plays significant minutes for these clubs ends up playing Division 1 basketball. In some cases, the entire 17U squad ends up playing Division 1.
If we analyze the total number of current ranked players from our site in last year’s 14U-17U age groups, All-Ohio leads the way with 26 ranked players, King James with 25 players, and OBC with 22 players. However, this does not account for out of state players and players who jump from team-to-team. For example, OBC had Craig Randall, Maverick Rowan and at least two other out of state players on their teams last year, which would put all three of these programs at the same level for ranked players. Additionally, there are several ranked players who played on at least two of these three teams during last year. Therefore, even based on something as simple as which program has the most ranked players does not lead us to a clear answer as to which program is the best.
There are already rumors about which players will be switching teams this spring and it’s always interesting to see where everyone ends up come April, and again come July, for the last live period.
A true analysis of who has the best program has to include the totality of the program going from 9U thorough 17U. We will attempt to follow as many of these teams as possible this spring and summer and formulate a better analysis for our readers. The younger teams are scattered throughout the state, and even with the younger kids, playing on multiple teams during an AAU season is not uncommon.
One thing seems clear after our first look – The best players in Ohio end up playing for All-Ohio, OBC or King James. We don’t see this changing anytime soon as long as Nike has the EYBL and Adidas has the Gauntlet. College coaches flock to the EYBL and Gauntlet events by the hundreds, and this will continue to provide the Nike and Adidas teams a competitive advantage in attracting the top talent.