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Has AAU basketball left high school hoops in dust?
Prep basketball » Most college recruiting occurs at AAU tournaments, but high school ball offers advantages, too.

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"Those games tend to be a little more up and down," Krystkowiak said. "Most of college basketball is played within the halfcourt. So I think both high school basketball and AAU have their advantages."

Davis High coach Jay Welk has two players — Abel Porter and Jesse Wade — who are Division I prospects and prominent on the AAU level. Both play for Utah Prospects.

At a glance

AAU springboard

» Founded in 1995, Salt Lake Metro has had 203 players move on to play college basketball

» Utah has had seven players since 2009 garner a national top-100 ranking (Jordan Loveridge, Nick Emery, TJ Haws, Kyle Collinsworth, Brekkott Chapman, Eric Mika, Tyler Haws)

» Chapman and Haws will compete in the NBA Top-100 camp, the premier individual player event of the summer

» Utah Prospects now has two nationally ranked teams, according to indihoops.com

» The Big Mountain Jam, featuring AAU teams across the state, will be played from June 27-29 in Sandy

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A few years ago, Welk and almost every other high school coach in the state were rankled when A-Train coach Alex Austin made public comments diminishing the importance of high school basketball. Now, Welk says that he sees the importance and the value of both sides.

"I saw AAU basketball as somewhat intrusive at first," Welk said. "Now, I think it has good value. You can’t replicate the exposure and the evaluation a player gets at the AAU level. Our players play for a solid program, and that’s a good thing. At the same time, I don’t think the value of high school basketball has diminished. Guys come back and they get to play in a system and they get to lead a team when they aren’t playing with eight other All-State guys. It helps with their development."

Show me the money

To be sure, it’s not always easy playing or committing to AAU basketball. There’s a hefty financial commitment involved on the part of parents that often gets overlooked.

Loveridge will enter his sophomore season at Utah as one of the best young power forwards in the Pac-12. In seventh grade, his father, Bill, saw that his son would have the chance to play college basketball.

The family went all in. Bill and his wife, LaTrill, over the next five years spent $10,000 paying for hotels, planes, tournament fees and equipment. With Pump N’ Run sponsored by Adidas, the Loveridges estimate that the cost could’ve been $25,000 if not for that sponsorship.

"We decided that it was a small investment if Jordan was able to earn a scholarship," Bill Loveridge said. "But we went into this with our eyes wide open. We knew that we were getting into big business. And that’s what AAU basketball is: big business. We also knew that if Jordan was going to play college basketball, he needed to play AAU. We were lucky because he played for an AAU program that understood the value of high school basketball and vice versa."

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