CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — More than 250 high school basketball players from 13 different states are in Champaign this week for the first ever NCAA college basketball academy. There are three other sites across the country, including Phoenix, Houston and Storrs, Connecticut.
With the recent FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting, this is the NCAA’s way of gaining more control of the business and getting away from the Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour AAU circuits.
“What we’re doing, we’re training kids for the future,” Midwest Region Commissioner Gary Waters said. “We tried to give them an idea of what they will experience when they get to college. That’s the whole process of this. And bring each player in here with the understanding that they’re going to get better.”
This week is divided into two sessions, Tuesday thru Thursday and Friday thru Sunday at the ARC, Ubben and State Farm Center. The first two days of each session start with drills from 8:30 to 3:00. That’s different than the normal summer AAU circuits.
“It’s paramount in their development because they’re so focused on going up and down the court playing a basketball game they’re not working on the fundamental piece of basketball,” Waters said. “Our objective here is to help them become better on the fundamental side of basketball so they don’t have to think about it.”
Players are split up into 18 different teams that go head to head to finish each day. Plenty of college coaches are here. Illinois assistant Jamall Walker, former Illinois head coach John Groce and UIC assistant Dee Brown just to name a few.