While high school state champions are being named and the season approaches a close, we had the opportunity to look ahead and discuss the upcoming spring and summer season with Coach Eric Bain of Larry Hughes Basketball Academy. Here is what he had to say about his team’s upcoming season:
RLH: What separates your organization from the myriad of other AAU programs across the country?
Coach Bain: What makes our team different than other AAU teams is that most teams focus on winning tournaments, I focus on making each athlete the best they can be for their high school team for the following season. I talk to each of their high school coaches and ask what are two areas that [they] want to see the most improvement in their player. I then spend the spring/summer focusing each athlete on those specific things. As a former High School coach for 30 years, I believe that AAU teams and High school coaches should work hand and hand, not against each other as often happens. Beyond that for those who strive to play at the next level, we will work to put them in position to make that happen as well.
2. What is the back story on how your organization was created?
The program began with the Name D1 United. From there, Larry Hughes took over the program and the name and focus was changed to Larry Hughes Basketball Academy which focused on skills and drills to complement playing on teams. Just last week, Larry Hughes opened a brand new facility that has high tech technology that tracks your every shot and other training tools only found in NBA facilities.
3. Who are some notable players who have worn your organization’s uniform?
Because our program is so young, my 16U group is actually the oldest group to go through so far.
4. For this specific team, do you expect to have much of your roster in tact from last year, what if any gaps are you looking to fill before next summer?
We will bring back just about all of our players from last year. Many of these kids have played together for 3 and 4 years. We have added a couple of new pieces that should help make us more athletic and improve our outside shooting.
5. Describe the team’s prior summer season and point out any significant tournament victories or games that stand out in your mind.
Last year we came within one basket of winning the 15U Recruit Look League. We were able to win two tournaments last season and overall the goal of getting each player in the best position to succeed as Sophomore’s was successful. Of the 9 kids on last year’s team, 6 players started for their Varsity and every kid played on their Varsity team with the exception of one kid who transferred and had to play JV.
6. What is your team’s philosophy on offense and defense?
Offensively we run a position-less Spread Offense. The focus is on each kid having a High Basketball I.Q. and learning how to make plays for themselves and others. Defensively we play half court man defense. Again, the goal is to make sure everyone gets better when they return to their high school team than they were when they left, so playing and understanding better the concepts of Man D in my opinion helps to make that happen.
7. Who are some players to watch from your team next season?
Sam Thompson, 6’9 center at Francis Howell who currently in playing in the Missouri Final 4 this weekend and Myles Estrada a 6’0 guard who finished second on his team in scoring this season and made 1st all District.
8. How many opportunities has your squad had to play mid-west teams? How did you fair against those teams?
As I mentioned earlier, we had the best record heading into the U15 finals last season, so I would say we had very good success against Midwest teams last year.
9. What was your record last year?
10. Who are the top teams in your area for your age group and in general?
Top teams in the St. Louis area along with ourselves are Bradley Beal Eagles and Team Ramey.
11. What style of play is your team known for?
We push the ball offensively looking to beat teams in transition and we are a very skilled high I.Q. offensive and defensive team. Getting high percentage shots offensively and forcing teams to take the shots we want them to take on defense.
12. What tournaments do you plan on participating in this year?
Along with the RecruitLook Series, we will play in the Spring Tune up tournament in St.Louis, Kansas City Classic, Arch Elite Showcase, and the Hardwood Classic Tournament.