Club basketball: it’s changed the game

This story outlines the rise of high school club basketball, how it’s completely changed the recruiting game, pros and cons regarding this fact, and how club and high school ball differ.

I felt this story really needed to be told because there are still numerous athletes and parents who don’t know how the recruiting game works. Take, for instance, a local LA player I’ve known since she was a freshman. The about-to-be-senior is talented, and was getting letters from sub-par schools, and/or schools where her older teammates had been recruited. I thought she could do better. So I spent some time last winter convincing her mother and voila, she found the kid a team. She’s played in tournaments since April, and now has a chance to play in a high-caliber program.

It’s not that I think club ball is necessarily better than high school ball; both are necessary. But the fact is that it seems that to be seen by the highest volume of coaches, an athlete is best to be on a club team and play in tournaments. It’s like stepping onto the Staples Center court versus a high school gym.

The only aspect of this story that I couldn’t develop to my satisfaction was Nike’s involvement with club ball teams. They absolutely refused to comment on their role; wouldn’t respond to numerous phone calls and emails. It was from the coaches that I understood when they began sponsoring teams and what they expect in return for their sponsorship. I was quite surprised at this non-response from one of the world’s largest shoe companies. Is there a secret around their sponsorship of teams?

Finally, I worry about ball players today. About two months ago I heard several athletes – who had gone straight from their high school season into club season – complain that they were tired of basketball. Yikes. I thought of Ella Delle Donne.


  1. If basketball in truly your passion and near close to be apart of your DNA. I as former player on all levels and now a high school coach ,don't believe one can ever get tired of it. I encourage my players to do both ,mainly because as it was stated in your article its like going from the gym to the "garden".

  2. It's the injuries that concern me and the lack of skills training, players bodies don't have time to heal and if they are not trained to correctly land on a jump stop for example, they an be highly likely to tear their ACL.

  3. That's what worries me, Anonymous 2, is the constant wear and tear. One recruit I know took a few weeks off after her high school season ended out of extreme necessity; her body was starting to break down. She came back after the rest period recovered and stronger than ever.

  4. When does play become work? These girls are toiling year-round, hoping to earn college scholarships. Overuse syndrome is rampant.

    IMHO, they'd be better off more well-rounded in sports. Like Makenzie Robertson (Kim Mulkey's daughter) who has three state championship rings: volleyball, basketball and softball. And Z is healthy!