Believe it or not, but this nearly empty gym in Oklahoma City could be the key to a college scholarship for kids in Davis Hudiberg’s Oklahoma Wizards AAU basketball program.
A hotbed for high school hoopsters, each summer kids compete for college coaches, through their AAU teams, during five large showcases for the right to continue their careers.
“For those players that think they may be able to get recruited at a really high level without AAU basketball it’s probably a misconception,” Hudiberg said. “There just aren’t going to be random high level college coaches that walk in your gym. You need to put yourself in the best position possible, and a lot of that times it’s through a quality AAU program.”
Hudiberg says AAU programs are summer, club teams.
The Wizards take the top talent from the state and region to compete across the country.
The non-profit organization has several sponsors, including ADIDAS, and uses volunteer coaches to make ends meet.
Edmond North guard Tre Evans knows the time spent with the Wizards now will pay off later.
“You definitely have to sacrifice your personal time hanging with friends or going out or anything,” Evans said. “Basketball is really a job in the summer with a schedule like this. Going to all these different tournaments is great for exposure, and it’s great because you see a lot of new places that you probably wouldn’t see without it.”
Brady Manek’s picked up offers from OU and OSU, but says AAU ball and playing at home in Harrah has its differences.
“High school games you know everyone, especially from a little town, you know everyone,” Manek said. “You know all the people that are going to be there. You go off to an AAU game and there’s coaches there, people you’ve never seen before and you’re just trying to impress them.”
While the views on AAU basketball may vary, there’s one thing no one can argue with and that’s the exposure these guys get with this team and not with their high schools.
At some events they play in, hundreds of college coaches are there and you can’t beat that.
“You have to be absolutely perfect to get a college scholarship,” Hudiberg said. “There are hundreds of thousands of kids fighting for the scholarships you’re fighting for.”
Every leg up you can give yourself is a huge opportunity. We feel really blessed to have the brand name and the recognition we have, because that gives our kids a little bit better opportunity than those kids who play for a program that may not have that name.”
The Wizards motto is ‘it’s bigger than basketball,’ prepping their players for a life long after the dribbling stops.
“We bring a lot of pastors, a lot of former players, professional players, local business leaders to talk to these kids about what life’s really like to try and prepare these kids as much as possible for the real world,” Hudiberg said.
“I really feel like the Wizards organization, they push us to be better men as well,” Evans said. “It’s not just basketball players. I know that [Hudiberg] wants the best for me."