I frequently get asked, "what AAU team should I let my child play with?" This is one question that I avoid answering because there really isn't a right answer. Choosing an AAU team depends on several factors, first off one must know what it is that you're looking for in a team, your financial obligation usually comes into play, your child's current skill level and if they will actually play on the chosen team should also come into play. Ultimately if playing on the AAU or club level the goal should be getting your child better and getting them into school for free or as close to free as possible. This brings me to the point of this blog, "The AAU team to avoid at all costs".
Recently NSP attended an event ran by the Maryland Flames. Being familiar with a Flame's team that was coached by a good friend of mine, Herb Kruesen, back in the mid to late 2000's, I had felt that the organization was taking the kids in a positive direction for basketball success, boy was I wrong. The Maryland Flames Organization ran by Bill McDermott has zero interest in the kids future. In meeting Mr. McDermott for the first time, I introduced myself and let him know about Next Sports Phenom, he stopped me in mid speech and said that the Flames has no interest in whether or not it's kids play basketball down the line and that he is only interested in profiting from his tournaments. I tried to explain that many of the kids choose to play AAU with hopes of playing in high school and perhaps college, he continued on to say that "this isn't the place for that". I told him that I was asked to come by to cover some of the kids, Mr. McDermott made sure that he was clear when saying that, he makes money and that he was not into helping these kids. He told me that I would be welcome to stay and watch for a $5 admission and made certain that I knew that the Flames were a bottom line organization. After asking me if I understood, I replied "totally". I have seen this before, but never has anyone been so forthcoming of their motives.
So, as I will not tell anyone who to play for, I can say with a little certainty that if your goal is for your child to play basketball beyond the recreational level, there are some very good options in Montgomery County, however, the Maryland Flames definitely shouldn't be your first stop.