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April 6, 2008

Thoughts from the Final Four

Arizona Preps was on hand again for this year's annual prestigious "NCAA Final Four" event held in San Antonio, Texas. While there I had a lot of time to think about the future that lies ahead in Arizona high school basketball.

Over the past 13 years, since I began scouting high school and junior college basketball in the state of Arizona, a lot has changed in the state. Gone are many of the people in the basketball community that once held stature, such as Elliott Glabman who operated the Arizona Heat travel AAU/club program for many years. The Heat was responsible for helping so many of Arizona's youth get college basketball exposure and scholarships, but today Glabman resides at his home in Chandler, operating his jewelry business with his lovely wife.

Also gone are programs such as the Arizona Cagers, who were also instrumental for two years in helping aid kids in the same format, but the program creators have now each moved on to different focuses in their lives as well.

There have been so many other club programs that have formed and gone over the past 10 years in an attempt to do what they thought was best, help kids. Another program, The Arizona Rage, has also disorganized as club leader Jase Coburn is now the head coach at McClintock HS and also the head coach for Art Dye and the Arizona Stars. Coburn's organization over the years brought numerous scholarships to kids in the state that many college coaches, including myself, had never seen perform in the state or did not have a good feel for. I commend Coburn on his years of hard work with Arizona's youth and being instrumental in helping such players as Ty Abbott (Arizona State) and Kramer Knutson in obtaining college scholarships. Both have gone on to become instant contributors at the collegiate level.

Today, as I sit on a plane in preparation of returning back to the state of Arizona, I am consistently thinking about what lies ahead for the future of Arizona basketball.

This weekend, former Arizona high school superstar and current Arizona Wildcat Jerryd Bayless decided to opt for the NBA Draft and forgoe his final three years of college eligibility. Since I had the opportunity to coach Jerryd for three years with the Arizona Magic and witness his growth and development as a player, I am very excited for him and his family as he prepares to enter a new and exciting chapter in his life. His play locally in high school and on the AAU/club circuit definitely made an impact on the lives of future Arizona high school basketball players for many years to come.

So with thoughts of the many past high school players that have moved on and the many club programs that no longer exist, I move forward into Arizona's basketball future with caution since a lot more has moved on in the state as well. While club programs have always competed for players in the off-season, and great players have always done what was needed to prove their value on the AAU/club circuit, today's basketball community has reached new levels of negativity and selfishness.

While I do not need to provide individual examples, it has just become very obvious recently that it has become a new day in Arizona, a day where programs put other programs down in an attempt to gain an advantage on a student-athlete playing for them. It has become a day where program organizers bad mouth others in an attempt to make themselves look better. It has become a day where Arizona's top student-athletes have a sense of entitlement and do not work as hard on their individual fundamentals anymore. And it has also become a day where the state no longer celebrates the individual successes of our student-athletes, but rather tears them down with negativity and doubtful remarks.

Maybe I am way over the top in writing this and maybe it is just me that feels this or sees these instances since I am a major part of the Arizona basketball community, but it does exist, and so much that it makes me very emotional at times.

Just two years ago, I woke up in a local hospital after a six day diabetic coma, an incident doctors advised my family that I would not wake up from. After waking up from this terrible ordeal and eventually returning to write for Arizona Preps, I felt very grateful to have my life and do what it is that God has granted me to be able to do in my life, which is provide a vessel for Arizona's youth and basketball community to have something to look forward to. Whether it is writing about a kid from Holbrook, Arizona, or providing an indepth story about the success of the Southwest Rebels in a tournament, or how Mesa Mountain View has won another state championship, I enjoy every moment of it.

Since 1999, when I first began writing for the Arizona Preps' site, I have written thousands of stories and have enjoyed everyone of them with a great deal of enjoyment except one. Unfortunately, in the spring of 2000 I had to report the death of former Gilbert HS star guard Casey Williams. That one hurt severely as I had a lot of love for that kid.

So now again today, I don't have a great deal of joy writing this excerpt, but felt that I had to utilize this time to write about what I was thinking, just so that you, the reader, got a better feel for me as a person. I continue to operate this site and run tournaments in Arizona solely to promote Arizona's youth and continue to provide resources for Arizona's best student-athletes and those that want opportunities. I hope that you will continue to support me in this endeavor as we move forward into a new day in the state of Arizona's high school basketball.

With the departure of such past standout star players as Jerryd Bayless, Harper Kamp, Zane Johnson and most recently Brendon Lavender, Taylor Rohde and Aaron Fuller, who will be the state's next star performers, and will we as a basketball community support their accomplishments or tear them down?

Just something to think about.

I wish to help anyone in the state that is providing for Arizona's youth and applaud you in your efforts. As we move forward into the new era of Arizona high school basketball, lets do the right thing and help one another, rather than attempt to steal from each other's ideas and promote ourselves. Promote the student-athlete.

By the way, my wife Amber and I just had our first child together three months ago and his name is Bryson Kadyn Ray. I am so excited to have a son and feel the emotions of the hundreds, maybe thousands of parents I have spoken with over the past 13 years about their children. So I now know how you all feel about your children.

But since we all know how important it is to have a child, let's continue to celebrate them. By the way, the state of Arizona continues to be a very underrecruited state for a reason, as we need to support one another much, much more.

That's all I have.

Auburn NEWS


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