High school basketball players sometimes want to get more play time. Can a high school basketball player play AAU and high school basketball at the same time?
Yes, though it does depend on the state. California recently made it possible for athletes playing some sports, including basketball, to play in a travel or AAU league during the year along with playing in a high school league.
We’ll explore the differences between travel or AAU basketball leagues and high school basketball leagues. We’ll also explain recent changes that might make it possible for an athlete to play for AAU teams and high school teams.
Can you play AAU and high school basketball at the same time?
You’ll want to check with your state’s athletic association, but in some cases, you can. The most recent report we encountered is from 2020 when the state of California began to allow students to play for an AAU basketball team and a high school game in the same season.
The major difference here is that previously, most states forbid students from playing in both leagues at the same time, fearing that students would play too many games, so they could only play in competitive AAU or travel leagues during the off-season or over school breaks.
Can high school basketball players play an AAU game and high school game in the same week?
Most states have restrictions on how many quarters of play a basketball player can participate in during a given day and only so much eligibility for an entire high school season. In states like California and others adopting new rules, high school athletes playing sports like basketball could play in high school-level games during the week, then participate in AAU basketball on the weekends.
Playing too much between high school games and AAU can make some players excessively sore and unable to play at their desired level for all games. In some ways, it seems that high school basketball players might be willing to put up with extra soreness and have developmental and exercise routines that make up for it.
What is AAU basketball?
AAU literally stands for Amateur Athletic Union. This kind of league involves players from different schools and organizations creating teams to play against other teams in the AAU and is usually more competitive than high school basketball. AAU states that its mission is to help student-athletes develop outside of high school ball.
The organization has been around for quite a while – they claim since the late 1800s. The goal in previous decades and generations was to focus on Olympic caliber players developing though since the 1970s their focus has been on anyone willing to compete and participate.
The AAU basketball season typically runs from February to July, so it doesn’t start till the finish of most high school basketball seasons, though events for AAU basketball can take place during the school season.
Controversy in AAU
AAU basketball has become a bit more controversial because of sponsorships. To make a long story short, the teams became more focused on getting shoe and apparel sponsorships and less on development, as shoe companies like Nike saw an opportunity to sponsor a player for cheap who would later sign a shoe sponsor contract. This led to the AAU hyping up players who really weren’t ready, in addition to challenging students’ eligibility to play in high school and college games because they couldn’t play in both at the same time. Young players were offered decent sums of money as well, which made the offers all the more tempting – though not allowed.
Many AAU coaches, college coaches, and players now criticize the AAU for having a group structure that appeals more to sponsorships and college coaches than it does to forming a real team and playing games. Some coaches participating have said that players switch teams all the time – and teams even have players fly in – all to get more playing time and become attractive to sponsors.
AAU can be a very positive way of playing against better competition. The biggest limiter in this discussion is whether or not a team has a good, active coach who wants to teach players. A good support structure will help teach a player and keep them developing. A coach that is not involved or can’t teach will not help students do well.
Should players compete in AAU and high school basketball?
If they enjoy and get something out of both, they should play high school basketball and AAU at the same time. Scheduling might be hard and the player could be more sore, but preparation and planning help solve those things.
Who should I ask about AAU basketball and high school basketball?
Ask your local athletics office about eligibility issues. Playing AAU basketball may affect your eligibility for high school basketball. Players might also be impacted by the culture of AAU basketball, including the ability to get sponsorships and gifts. Your local representative will know the rules for your district, state, and conference.
Be sure to ask these before joining AAU to not immediately affect your eligibility to play a game. You won’t want to let your high school team and coach down.
If headed to college for basketball, ask your college coaches about eligibility too.
- In some states like California, players are eligible to play in AAU and high school
- Check with your local athletic association, as some rules are different
- Some schools limit the number of quarters a player can play per day
- AAU generally means a higher level of competition, depending on team and coach
- A player might be able to play a regular game during the week and AAU on weekends