Jump Street Basketball promotes player development
Last spring, when Forest Lake assistant basketball coach Roger Keller and head coach Jen Wagner sat down to debrief on Keller’s sophomore team, Keller expressed his interest in starting a development program during spring and early summer for local athletes, both boys and girls.
“My goal at my level is to develop players, even more so before they get to JV, varsity,” Keller said. “So one of the things we talked about was a lot of athletes that don’t play spring basketball for a couple of reasons. One, they would have to be two-sport athletes in the spring and it’s just too much. And secondly, just the logistics for the parents — the closest clubs are Mounds View and Stillwater. We started talking about what we could do to develop a program, and not just for Forest Lake.”
The basketball enthusiast wanted a club focused on developing players by allowing them to practice locally but still play in competitive tournaments hosted by the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services rather than the Amateur Athletic Union.
“It’s a development program first; it’s not AAU. It’s based on the MYAS-hosted tournaments — very fundamental, based on development, not going out with a ‘win at all costs’ mindset,” Keller said. “It’s different, and I positioned it that way.”
Keller then reached out to coaches and traveling hoops clubs from Forest Lake, North Branch and Chisago Lakes. All three supported his idea, saying “go for it.” With that, Keller created Jump Street Basketball.
“They all expressed interest, but were very candid with me, saying, ‘you know, Roger, this first year is going to be slow.’ So I had hopes of maybe two teams, but I didn’t know what to expect,” Keller said.
Keller held tryouts the first week of March. About 45 boys and 20 girls from grades six through nine and from all three regions showed up. Keller was able to form four boys teams. While he hopes to hold another tryout at the end of March to put together a girls team along the same age group, he was pleased with the turnout and hopes to hear of more interested athletes. Keller also encourages athletes from Cambridge-Isanti, St. Francis and Rush City to try out.
“Lots of clubs hold more than one tryout, and I would like to have another if I get more interest,” Keller said.
The Jump Street Basketball program will hold two practices per week and compete in four tournaments April through June, which is the length of the MYAS season. The cost is $385 per player, based on comparative studies Keller conducted of other clubs.
For the time being, Keller hasn’t yet closed registration. For more information, visit www.jumpstreetbasketball.com or email Keller at firstname.lastname@example.org.