Travel basketball season a valuable grind for area stars

SHARE Travel basketball season a valuable grind for area stars

Lake Forest senior-to-be Evan Boudreaux played at the Division I AAU Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, last weekend.

The weekend before, he and his AAU team Next Level Performance participated in the NY2LA Sports Summer Jam tournament. When the 6-foot-8 power forward heads home from Kentucky, it will mark the end of an almost four-month tour that might have tired even the most road-hardened rock bands. Since the beginning of April, Boudreaux has played in 10 AAU tournaments in five different states.

Boudreaux admits it’s a grind. But at every stop, he’s had the opportunity to compete against some of the most highly recruited prospects in the country.

“For me, the biggest thing I’ve learned is the fact I can play with those guys. Those guys who say they are great, I know I can beat them and play better,” Boudreaux said.

Boudreaux has received 12 scholarship offers, most notably from Iowa, Iowa State and DePaul. NCAA rules limit contact between players and college coaches at tournaments like this weekend’s AAU Nationals to a wave or a greeting, but during down time on the road, Boudreaux said he and his teammates talk often about the texts or calls they receive from interested coaches. That interaction occurs in between tournaments.

“On the way back [from a tournament] I’ll get a couple of texts or they will call and tell you what they thought. I respect a coach who is honest with me. It kind of gets old [when they aren’t],” Boudreaux said. “We’ll joke about what some coaches say. Most of us are going through [recruiting], and we can relate. It’s not a competition, we all want to get into the best schools we can.”

Many players use the travel season to broaden their skills, but athletes like Boudreaux or St. Joseph’s senior-to-be Glynn Watson often work on hyperspecific elements of their game.

Watson, a highly recruited 6-0 point guard in the Illinois Wolves AAU program run by Mike Mullins, is working on his ability to close out games. According to Mullins, Watson’s improvement in that regard has increased his stock significantly.

Watson guided the Wolves to 30 wins in their first 35 games this AAU season. In four of those wins, he either took the game-winning shot or passed to a teammate who fired the game-winner.

“There are a lot of end-of-game situations that occur. A point guard has to know when to pass and when to shoot,” Mullins said. “Kids that show a knack for doing that on a regular basis successfully are valued more than those who attempt, but can’t convert.”

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