Raise Your Game: Top Basketball Drills from AAU Coaches

Raise Your Game: Top Basketball Drills from AAU Coaches

Everyone loves going to basketball games to see two teams go at it with free-flowing offenses and tenacious defenses. What fans don’t see is all the hard work players have put in during practice as coaches work to install their systems and instill a culture. Practice is where you grind so you can shine on game day. Below are drills from Coach Michael Laney, the Director of Operations at Hope Basketball Academy an elite AAU program in Charlotte, and William Larson of North Tartan Basketball, one of the top girls AAU programs in Minnesota.

Eastbay is proud to support young athletes everywhere who are working to develop their games against the elite-level competition found on the AAU circuit. Eastbay knows nothing is more important than being prepared and comfortable on the court, which is why we have a vast selection of the best gear from the top brands. If you’re an AAU member make sure to use your AAU member-exclusive discount code when you shop at eastbay.com

The 90th Annual AAU James E. Sullivan Award: Meet Your Finalists

The 90th Annual AAU James E. Sullivan Award: Meet Your Finalists

Finalist voting for the 90th annual AAU James E. Sullivan Award is open!

Each year, since 1930, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) gives out this award to the nation’s top amateur athlete. Named after its founder, James E. Sullivan, this award recognizes players who not only entertain us but inspire and motivate us.

Scroll down to learn more about each of this year’s finalists, click here to cast your vote, and stay tuned to find out who will win this prestigious award.

Grant Holloway

Track and Field, University of Florida

Holloway became the fifth Gator in history to be named SEC Male Athlete of the Year and the first Gator to sweep the USTFCCCA National Indoor and Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year awards. He also became the first man in history to sweep the NCAA Championship titles for 60 hurdles and 110 hurdles three years in a row. Holloway was the third leg for Florida’s NCAA title-winning and collegiate record-breaking 4×100 relay at NCAA Outdoors (37.97 seconds), and he anchored Florida’s 4×400 relay to a silver medal to set a school record time of 2:59.60 (split 43.75 seconds). Holloway scored 27.5 points at the NCAA Indoor Championships, the second-highest total in meet history; 28 points at SEC Indoor Championships, breaking the meet record of 22.5; and 14 points at SEC Outdoor Championships. He’s a 4x USTFCCCA Outdoor All-American, 4x USTFCCCA Indoor All-American, SEC Indoor Runner of the Year and USTFCCCA South Region Indoor and Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year.

Megan Taylor

Women’s Lacrosse, University of Maryland

Winning her second national championship this past year, Taylor became the first goalie ever to win the prestigious Tewaaraton Award. In addition, Taylor was named the IWLCA National Player of the Year, the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, the University of Maryland Student-Athlete of the Year, the Big Ten Goalie of the Year for the fourth time in four years, and she won the Honda Award for Lacrosse. Taylor started 88 of 91 games over her four-year career, putting together an 84-4 record. She ended her Maryland career with a .512 save percentage and 740 saves, the second highest of any Maryland goalie. The senior won two National Championships, seven Conference Championships and never lost a game at home.

Dana Rettke

Women’s Volleyball, University of Wisconsin

Dana is the youngest member of the 2019 U.S. National Team that won the Volleyball Nations League. She’s been named three-time first-team All-American, 2019 Big Ten Player of the Year, 2019 AVCA Northeast Regional Player of the Year, three-time first-team All-Big Ten, and two-time Academic All-Big Ten. She aided the Badgers to three NCAA tournament appearances, including a national runner-up finish in 2019. She holds the UW career record in hitting percentage and ranks among the top Badger players in kills, kills per set, total blocks, blocks per set, points, and points per set. She played in 110 sets and led the team with 3.75 kills per set. She had a season high 22 kills vs. Marquette (September 5) and had a tied season high five digs vs. Penn State (October 2).

Abbey Weitzeil

Women’s Swimming, University of California Berkeley

Last year, Weitzeil broke the American record in the 50-yard free twice, won four national titles at the 2019 NCAA Championships, and earned 2019 Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year honors. Not only did she win all three of her individual races at the Pac-12 Championship meet, but she also helped her Cal team win multiple relays. As a result, she was named the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Meet. At the NCAA Championships, she earned a national title in the 50 free and anchored three relays to national championships while helping the 200 medley relay to a runner-up finish. During the final race of the 200 medley relay on the third night of the meet, Weitzel hit the wall hard hyper-extending her elbow. The next day, with her arm heavily taped, she anchored the 400 free relay to a national title breaking the NCAA record in the event.

Trevor Lawrence

Football, Clemson University

Lawrence entered 2020 having completed 527 of his 804 career passes for 6,945 yards with 66 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 1,610 snaps in 30 career games (26 starts). His rushing numbers are just as impressive with 967 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns on 163 career carries. As a freshman in 2018, Lawrence started the final 11 games helping Clemson to go 15-0 and win 10 of those games by 20 points or more. Lawrence became the first true freshman quarterback to lead his team to a national title since 1985. Lawrence was a consensus freshman All-American honoree who earned a bevy of national and conference honors for both his athletic and academic success. Lawrence recorded a 25-game winning streak in his first 25 games as a starter, tied for the sixth-longest winning streak by a starting quarterback at any point of a career.

Kyla Ross

Gymnastics, University of California Los Angeles

Ross has had a historic career at UCLA. She has scored two perfect 10s on uneven bars and one on vault and leads UCLA with 34 individual titles out of a possible 45. Ross has totaled four NCAA individual championships and one team championship. She holds the NCAA career record for perfect 10s on uneven bars with 11 and counting. Ross is the first female gymnast in history to win NCAA, World and Olympic gold. She’s a two-time defending Pac-12 all-around champion and has a total of six Pac-12 individual titles. Ross currently ranks first in the nation on uneven bars, second on balance beam, third in the all-around, fourth on floor exercise, and 11th on vault. The 19-time All-American is a standout off the floor as well, receiving Pac-12 All-Academic honors twice in her career while studying Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology.

Spencer Lee

Men’s Wrestling, University of Iowa

Two-time NCAA Wrestling Champion, Lee, claimed the 2019 US Senior National Championship, qualifying for the US Olympic Trials. Lee outscored his opponents 55-7 in five matches at the NCAA Championships. He posted a 23-3 overall record, including a perfect 7-0 mark in Big Ten duals. For the 2018-19 season, he recorded a team-high seven technical falls and eight pins, ranking second on the team. He became an Academic All-Big Ten and was named the Mike Howard Most Valuable Wrestler. Lee was also named to the NWCA Academic All-American Team and is a two-time letter winner.

Markus Howard

Men’s Basketball, Marquette University

Howard is a member of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee, one of only two student-athletes in the nation. He was named the BIG EAST Player of the Year, is Marquette’s all-time leading scorer, and is the top scorer in BIG EAST history (1,587 points). Howard was a unanimous All-BIG EAST First Team honoree in 2019-20. He was the only person in 2018-2019 to finish in the top-10 in the nation in scoring and free throw percentage, and he’s already in possession of multiple Marquette single-game, season, and career records.

Evita Griskenas

Rhythmic Gymnastics, USA Rhythmic Gymnastics

Griskenas is a full-time honors/AP student and dedicated athlete. She’s been named the National Junior Champion (June 2015), National ball (July 2018) and ribbon Senior National Champion (July 2019), and three-time all-around second-place Senior National Champion. Griskenas has had much international success as well. In September, she secured a spot in the top 8 in the world at the World Championships in Baku. She was the most decorated athlete of the August 2019 Pan American Games, and in October 2017, she swept all five gold medals at the Pan American Championships.

Sabrina Ionescu

Women’s Basketball, University of Oregon

Ionescu is the first player in NCAA history to surpass 2,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds, and 1,000 career assists. She’s the NCAA all-time triple-double leader with 26 as of February 25, 2020. She’s a Pac-12 all-time leader in assists. She was awarded the 2018-19 Wooden Award and Wade Trophy winner as the national player of the year. Ionescu helped the Ducks to their first ever Final Four playing 1,369 minutes, the most in the NCAA. She graduated from the University of Oregon in just three years with a degree in general social science and is now pursuing her Master’s degree in Advertising and Brand Responsibility.

Don’t forget to vote for who you’d like to win! You can vote once per day until March 30, and the winner will be announced on April 21, 2020.

Best Basketball Shoes for AAU Season

Best Basketball Shoes for AAU Season

AAU basketball is all about individual expression. It’s the time of year to show off all the parts of your game you kept under wraps during the high school season. Whether you are playing in front of college coaches or your parents it’s all about developing confidence in your game so that you are ready for Sectionals next year. Besides expressing certain aspects of your game, AAU also gives you the opportunity to showcase your tastes in fashion. Here at Eastbay we have put together a nice guide for you with some of the best products to have for your AAU season. This list is specifically dedicated to shoes that will help your play and style stand out on the court, but you should also take some time to check out our guide on the best apparel here. Alright let’s dive in.

KD 12

The latest shoe from Kevin Durant is an excellent example of how the line continues to evolve to support the needs of basketball players. Durant was more hands-on in the design with this iteration and it shows. Wanting to focus on comfort and flexibility designers reworked the strobel (the thin layer inside your shoe separating your foot from the cushioning) so that the Zoom Air is stitched directly underfoot. The Zoom Air stretches the full length of the shoe and features several channels that help the shoe better flex as you cut and drive. While flexibility is necessary, you also don’t want to feel like you’re about to run out of the shoe every time you push off. That’s why the multidirectional flywire is so crucial, because it keeps your feet locked in and stable. The perforated midsole also helps cut some weight off the shoe to keep you light on your feet.

PG 3

Let’s take a quick moment to acknowledge that Paul George somehow got better after suffering what many thought was a career threatening injury. Incredible. PG’s signature shoes have also continued to get better because of their guiding principle of simplicity. Everything that isn’t a crucial component of the shoe has been removed, making sure it’s as lightweight as possible. The tongue is connected to the collar, and the designers were able to cut weight by keeping the Zoom Air in the forefoot of the shoe. Another part that received a large amount of focus was the upper where the goal was to maintain flexibility while still adhering to the “lightweight” mindset. What really separates the PG from Nike’s other signature shoes is the outsole pattern. Instead of opting for the traditional herringbone pattern, the team was inspired by craters on the moon and decided to use a circular traction pattern.

Lebron 16

Even at 34 years old LeBron James is still one of the most physically dominant players in a league full of physical freaks of nature (Reminder: Giannis’s achilles tendon is two times longer than the average person’s). The 16’s are built to harness all of LeBron’s power and focus it onto the basketball court. They combine Max and Zoom Air to absorb impact, lessening the strain on your legs, and then return all the energy to you. LeBrons are often slightly heavier than other player’s signature shoes, but that’s because they are designed to be more supportive and stable. Battleknit 2.0 is instrumental in this because it’s ultra-strong and provides support in the most crucial places. Then, to help complement the support and stability, the 16’s feature a custom lacing system and rigid heel clip that keeps you locked in for the entire game.

Jordan Why Not 0.2

I would like to know where Russell Westbrook gets all his energy. Is it coffee brewed deep in the Amazon rainforest by tribal masters? Does his blood consist exclusively of five-hour energy? Is the Energizer Bunny his father? It’s incredible how much Westbrook brings it every single night which means he needs shoes that can handle his playing style. The Why Not 0.2’s are engineered to channel all the energy into production. One of the most important aspects of designing shoes for Westbrook is the cushioning system. It is critical that Westbrook’s foot be able to breathe in addition to being supported and kept fresh. To accomplish this, designers put Nike’s iconic Zoom Air in the forefoot and used a mixed-material upper. Another crucial component of the shoe is the midfoot strap, because if Westbrook’s foot isn’t locked down, he’ll jump out of his shoes. The strap provides a snug fit and makes sure your foot won’t slide around.

Kyrie 5

Kyrie Irving is one of the most uniquely talented players in the league with handles that would make Neil Degrasse Tyson question physics. His shoes are also some of the most creatively designed with some of the best colorways around. No player attacks from as many different angles and positions which means his shoes need to be versatile. In a game played on as fine of margins as basketball even the most minor of slips can ruin a drive or force you to throw a pass a half second earlier. That’s one of the reasons for the curved outsole which is meant to help Irving maintain grip even when his foot isn’t flat on the ground. Designers also included flywire cables around the midfoot, drawing on inspiration from a flytrap to secure your foot. One of the other nice things about the 5’s is the attention paid to protecting your foot. The toe has been reinforced and the padded ankle collar has your achilles covered.

Whether you’re running point, posting up in the paint, or spotting up on the wing these shoes are sure to help you elevate your game. You can check out the rest of Eastbay’s basketball shoe collection and all of our other basketball gear by visiting eastbay.com.

AAU Sullivan Awards: Plummer Takes Home the Hardware.

AAU Sullivan Awards: Plummer Takes Home the Hardware.

Stanford volleyball player Kathryn Plummer was named the 2019 AAU Sullivan Award winner during a ceremony on Tuesday in New York City.

This adds to the long list of awards Plummer has racked up this season which includes the AVCA Player of the Year, ESPNW Player of the Year and Pac-12 Player of the Year. To top it all off Plummer helped lead her team to the NCAA National Championship where Stanford defeated Nebraska for their 8th title.

Asked what volleyball means to her Plummer said, “Volleyball shapes my life in almost everything I do. My teammates become my family, and the support I receive from everyone around me makes me appreciate the sport even more. It is a sport that brings new challenges every day and it is always fun to learn and break new barriers.”

Plummer beat out a strong class of finalists which included McKenzie Milton from UCF, Mikaela Foecke from Nebraska, Rachael Garcia from UCLA, Luke Maye from UNC, Aleia Hobbs from LSU, Townley Haas from Texas, and Morgan Hurd who competes as a part of the USA Gymnastics team. All of these finalists were well-deserving and each has made an incredible impact on their sport and their community.