Future stars shine at local AAU tourney

Originally found at www.bayloryouth.org
Written By, Aaron Pineda

Will Chicago’s Malik Johnson or Wisconsin’s Bobby Hambright ever be the next Michael Finley or George Hill?

Only time will tell for these pair of sixth-graders, but with the help of individuals like former West Side High player Toi Baylor, they are given a greater opportunity to improve their skills against some of the top AAU competition in the nation.

Baylor credits her basketball scholarship to Middle Tennessee State to her days in AAU and current Cougars’ coach Rodney Fisher. She is now the event director of the Baylor Youth Foundation and just wants to give some of the top teams and players a chance to better themselves on and off the court.

“I love hosting the events and being involved and having teams from all over including Michael Finley’s (Bumble Bees) and George Hill’s (Rising Stars),” Baylor said. “I remember playing in AAU and got a scholarship through it.”

Hill and Finley currently play for the San Antonio Spurs, but it was Hill’s teams that came away with the 9U title with a 28-6 win over the South Bend Hurricane and the 10U Rising Stars knocking off the Illinois Purple 21-11.

The 12U Wisconsin Playground Elite group matched up against the Merrillville Spiece Warriors following the Warriors defeating another region team in Stone Cold 37-30. “We always look forward to playing in this tournament because you see some of the best teams in Indiana and Illinois and it gets us out of Wisconsin,” Elite coach Jeff Smith said.

The Warriors were lead by Malik Johnson, 14, who scored his tournament low eight points in the victory, while his tournament high 14 points came early in the round-robin play.

“It feels pretty good to go out there and play against some of these teams,” Johnson said. In the finals the Elite claimed the 12U title 39-26.

The Warriors coach Demond Beatty has been involved with AAU for 10 years running and loves the competition his kids see at events like the one hosted at Indiana University Northwest. “We have a lot of talented kids and these tournaments really show how good your team really is,” Beatty said.

The Indiana Thunder knocked off Western Springs 58-28 to claim the 13U title, while Ferrari beat the Illinois Select 53-12 in the 14U final. The Elite’s 11U team won the championship by defeating the Ball Hogs 27-9.