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USA Basketball looks to put its stamp on youth sports

Jun 8, 2013, 8:30 PM EDT

Andre Iguodala, Jim Tooley AP

There are a lot of skill development camps for young basketball players. It can be tough to know which ones are legit, and which ones are just a good way to make a quick buck. USA Basketball, the governing body that assembles the national team and all of the youth versions of it, would like to get a hand in regulating the general quality of instruction. The organization is establishing a youth division, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

“Basketball is very popular in this country, which is good,” USA Basketball executive director Jim Tooley (pictured, with Andre Iguodala) told the newspaper. “It can also be a challenge because there are so many camps. We want to provide some guidance.”

Right now, the youth division of USA Basketball exists on paper only. Tooley expects to spend some time over the next year or so figuring out how to structure the new division, including hiring a director and deciding how many employees the new division will need.

The youth division’s primary goal will be to establish acceptable standards and practices for the profusion of youth basketball camps across the United States, primarily those focused on advanced skills and officiating.

Tooley said the many camps focused on fundamentals would not be affected.

Accreditation will help parents make the right choices, he added, and let them know they are sending their child to a safe environment.

“If the coaches are certified, it adds a comfort level,” he said. “If they are not, hopefully parents weigh that in their decision.”

It will be interesting to see what becomes of this idea. Other nations exert a fair amount of control over their national basketball development pipelines, while the U.S. relies on a hodgepodge of high school programs, summer camps, AAU super teams and prep schools. Those of us familiar with the NCAA may be rightfully wary of any sort of governing body that proclaims to guide and protect the sport and its players, but perhaps a little scrutiny and reinvention could improve the whole youth skills development process.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.