Can My Son Make The High School Basketball Team Without Travel Ball Experience? – Forbes

My 14-year-old son Ryan has always loved basketball. He loves his Philadelphia 76ers. He loves the NBA 2K video games. He can recite the lyrics to Kurtis Blow’s “Basketball.”

“Basketball is my favorite sport/I love the way they dribble up and down the court…”

However, Ryan’s career playing basketball is rather limited. He played — with the handicap of me as his coach — in the Alsip (Ill.) Park District league in fifth and sixth grades, but was out in the last round of cuts when he tried out for his junior high team in seventh grade.

Ryan skipped eighth-grade tryouts, but that was because of what had been his first love: the theater. As with seventh-grade, he was the male lead in the school musical, whose practice schedule runs the same time as basketball season. He didn’t want to risk losing the lead because he had to split his time with basketball.

As the school year went on, though, it was clear that Ryan couldn’t shake his basketball jones.

He spent much of his free time playing hoops, especially hours and hours on the weekends at the Apollo Recreation Center in Alsip, site of his organized basketball days. He shot on our driveway hoop. He shot at his neighborhood park hoops. He played anyone and everyone. He watched videos online to learn basketball tips. He did this with very little of my involvement whatsoever, except to drive him to Apollo. This has only accelerated as Ryan has entered the summer before his freshman year.

And this leads us to an experiment of sorts: can a self-motivated gym rat, with little organized basketball experience, much less any travel-ball play, and with parents that are well south of the Lavar Ball line, make his high school basketball team? And I’ll add that Ryan’s high school, Richards in Oak Lawn, Ill., is the alma mater of Dwyane Wade.

Ryan, live from the Apollo (Recreation Center)

Bob Cook

Ryan, live from the Apollo (Recreation Center).

If you’re the sort of parent who has spent a lot of money on travel ball for your child’s sport, you might answer: my gosh, no. Or maybe: my gosh, I hope not. Because Ryan making the team could show all that spending was a waste of time, right?

I’m not naive: Ryan is going to have some stiff competition from more experienced players when basketball tryouts come in November. But here is why Ryan has a good shot — and I hope what I’m sharing is helpful to anyone who has a child who is truly passionate about a sport or activity with little or no parental pushing whatsoever.

He grew. A lot.

One big difference between now and his seventh-grade tryout: then, he was around 4-foot-10. Now, he’s about 5-foot-11. OK, it’s not a sure eye-catcher like 6-foot-5. But you can’t argue with that pace of growth spurt, and at least now he’s a height that doesn’t have the coaches dismissing him the moment they see him.

Can My Son Make The High School Basketball Team Without Travel Ball Experience? – Forbes

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