07/27/2015 10:57 AM
Coaching for over 20 years, Rodney Gilyard believes basketball should be fun. He also believes that through competing kids can learn life lessons.
His program, ABA Supreme, is one that focuses on teaching fundamentals and improving player development. The simple approach has been stressed for the last eight years with the boys' teams. His girls' program is in its fifth year but it may have had its best summer ever.
This season it reached a new high, as the sixth grade ABA Supreme Elite 2021 finished first place in the recently completed PrimeTime Sports National Basketball Championships after defeating Team Absolute.
“When we started off the program we were losing,” Gilyard said. “But the girls kept working hard and committed to the game of basketball.
“We have had a lot of success playing, but it took time.”
The purpose of the ABA Club Programs is to help the kids grasp their basketball dreams by providing an opportunity to play on a competitive basketball team so they can be the best player they can be.
Seeing the team achieve its goal was incredible feeling for the coach.
A set of twins were in the middle of the weekend's action.
Brylee and Jaelyn Glenn are on ABA Supreme and the pair has much potential as any of the talented players showcased at the tournament.
“They are both long and athletic,” Gilyard said. “Jaelyn is a better handler and defends well. Brylee is the scorer and lead in scoring all weekend. She is phenomenal at creating her own shots.”
Serena Sundell is another player who showed her guard skills over the weekend and a sweet stroke from behind the arc.
“Serena is just a solid point guard and takes care of the ball by making the right decisions,” Gilyard said. “She knocks down open threes and shots but also defends so well.”
The best player over the weekend was Taitlynn Afualo.
“She handles it, shoots it, and defends,” Gilyard said. “She does put backs and is our team leader on both ends.”
Last year, ABA Supreme took ninth at AAU nationals but after its win at the PrimeTime Sports event it is currently ranked No. 1 in its division.
The teams commitment to defense and everybody willing to work hard separates this group of girls from other teams across the country.
“We have girls who commit 100 percent through trust and belief,” Gilyard said. “Giving it a their all is the key. We have versatile on the team and have size where we can defend.”
Two things this team does very well is believe in each other and move the ball efficiently.
“We have five girls who can score 20 any given night,” Gilyard said. “Usually we get a lot of open looks.”
“Our defense is based off of help and rotation press break through the half court. Our defense is to pressure the ball and help side defense that takes away the gaps with man to man defense.”
ABA Supremes offense feeds well in transition like setting through the secondary break similar to what former NBA Coach Larry Brown used to run.
“All of our girls are good decision makers,” Gilyard said. “We have been working on a 1-4 offense as well. We reverse the ball a lot and we attack the zone in a 3-2 set and we attack gaps.”
Gilyard expresses his thoughts on grassroots basketball and thinks the competitive circuit is definitely a good look for kids that are committed to the sport.
“I think the kids skill set is high in AAU/grassroots basketball and that makes the competition level high,” Gilyard said. “Usually girls have to adjust to the up-tempo type of game. AAU/grassroots is a lot of national opportunity. PrimeTime Nationals is a great example.”
Overcoming different types of adversity makes a team and shows toughness within an organization.
The best player for ABA may be Jacque David – who was at home during the Nationals because of an injury that happened in February.
“She is our best physical player inside and out,” Gilyard said. “Not having her made the others step up and play well. We are not the most athletic but our hard work over powers it.”
“We want these girls to be good sisters, aunts, and parents as well,” Gilyard said.
Gilyard graduated from Ottawa University class of ‘92 and is going to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
He said winning the last game of the year was important for him and his club.
“Leaving something behind for people to follow is the key,” Gilyard said. “Our girls always go out and do their best.”