By Lindsay Whitehurst
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FAIRFIELD - Making hoop dreams a reality is the goal of the new And1-Amateur Athletic Union development league.
"A lot of kids want to up their skills. We're going to develop players, challenge their creativity. We're training them to that competitive level," said And1-AAU Director Darroll Alexander.
The new league was created for players in third through sixth grade who play for fun.
"There are so many young players who get into recreational programs and then they get knocked down a lot trying out for the competitive leagues," Alexander said. "This bridges the gap."
The new league is open to boys and girls from anywhere in the Tristate.
Each team will have eight to 10 players and every player will get equal playing time.
Development league coach Bobby Austin said he wants to help players focus on fundamental skills and teach them how to play as a team.
"You see all these kids who want to shoot the three-pointers or dribble like Allen Iverson, but you also have to work on the mid-court game, the fundamentals," he said.
Last year, Austin's division II team of eighth-graders won the AAU state championship. The team went on to finish fourth in the nation.
"It's great to watch them grow and progress as young men," said Austin, a former UC Bearcats player.
Though no high school coaches are directly involved, Austin said they sometimes come to watch And1 games.
Austin expects about 800 to 1,000 players to sign up for the new league.
Play begins on March 20 and runs through Aug. 1. Games and tournaments will be at Fairfield High School and the New Life Vineyard Church gym.
Sign-ups are Feb. 14 and Feb. 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.at the New Life Vineyard Church gym, across from Rose Hill Burial Park in Fairfield.
Cost is $250, which includes a uniform.
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