When many people think of AAU boys basketball, they picture fast breaks, dunks, and lots of points.
Chris McGuire has stressed a more well-rounded approach to his 13-and-under boys basketball team, and that approach helped the team win a national championship earlier this month.
The NKY Legends Elite won the Division 2 national title in Greensboro, North Carolina playing in the 22,000-seat Greensboro Coliseum. McGuire said it’s a rare accomplishment for a local team, possibly the first one ever from that age level.
“For the area, it puts Northern Kentucky on the map, coupled with the success Cov Cath has had at the state level,” McGuire said. “It lets people know there is basketball in Northern Kentucky.”
The players will all be eighth-graders this fall at eight different schools, and will eventually land in at least different high schools: Beechwood, Covington Catholic, Highlands, Newport, Newport Central Catholic and Ryle.
“This group has been together for two years,” McGuire said. “They’re best friends off the court even though they go to eight different grade schools. They’re not dominating individual players but when they work within the system they get great results.”
McGuire, of Crescent Springs, has run the program for several years, and coaches the team with Richard Skinner, the head coach who manages the team in games. The team has a 67-12 overall record, with eight of those losses to older teams.
“We’ve played against bigger, stronger, faster teams to prepare our kids,” McGuire said.
The team has played 15 tournaments this year, winning 11 of them, with two more to come in Indianapolis and Louisville the rest of the month.
They’ve succeeded with defense, rebounding and patience. McGuire said the Legends played teams that were averaging 80 points and up in Greensboro and limited them to half that output.
“Kids buying in and playing a certain style of basketball,” McGuire said. “We’re a not a transition team who will score 100 points on layups. We run our sets, play halfcourt, get open shots for all the kids. We stay within the system.”
The team is based at Holmes High School and practices at some other gyms as well.
“We slow the game down and guard people like it’s nobody’s business,” McGuire said. “AAU basketball has turned into transition and how fast can we get up and down the floor. We box out and don’t give up second chance possessions.”
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