The AAU Rule change concerning no grade exceptions was the hot topic yesterday. Now Basketball Spotlight will give you a few ways this ruling will impact the game of grammar/middle school hoops.
Several years ago AAU decided to change the three grade exception rule to unlimited grade exceptions. At first look the ruling looked to be a move in the right direction because it seemed to give them less reason to police the eligibility of players. They felt as though there would be no reason to cheat if you were allowed unlimited grade exceptions. But the ruling also caused an influx of players reclassifying which changed the level of competition at their national events. When the competition level got higher, most middle tier clubs decided to seek refuge in other organizations such as YBOA or USBA. Majority of the departing clubs pointed to the unlimited grade exception rule as their reason for leaving. AAU also took a hit publicly from purest that felt the rule went totally against academics because he seemed to promote players repeating grades to compete. I believe these two factors led to them abolishing the grade exception rule.
Other Options Opened!
I think the rule change has opened options for teams that feel like they are on the elite level. Instead of busting up dynasties that teams took years to build I think most will opt to play on circuit such as Basketball Spotlight and NYBL. This way they are still competing against top level teams and keeping their troops together. Quite honesty most of the directors of the elite programs on the middle school level were looking for a reason to escape the huge cost of going to the AAU Nationals. Now they have it.
It is my feeling that as long as the sneaker circuits keep their current rules most of the top tier teams will also stay intact. Since majority of the top level sneaker teams have developed feeder systems on the grammar school level I can’t see them blowing it all up because of the rule change. They will still want to stock pile the best talent according to grade to give them the best chance to compete on the sneaker circuits once they reach high school. In fact they might even get stronger if they snatch the top grade exceptions from those teams that have chosen to conform to the new rules.
Finally, I think the new rules have made travel teams have to choose the route in which they want to perform. Will they chase the national championship dreams or will they opt for the competition, bright lights, media coverage and sneaker deals giving to them by opposing circuits? We will find out soon because the season kicks off in no time. Basketball Spotlight will keep you posted.