The big picture of the Hoop Group Summer Jam Fest at Spooky Nook Sports Complex is chaos, a noisy, overwhelming state fair with dunks and whistles.
Drill down, and something more serious is going on.
Some teenagers are playing basketball for their futures here this weekend.
“I’ve gotten many texts and emails (from coaches), telling me they’re going to be watching,’’ said Elijah Terry, a senior guard who is transferring from Lancaster Mennonite to McCaskey High School in the fall. “I know I’m on their radar right now, so I know I have to perform.’’
The Summer Jam Fest is a giant tournament for AAU-type age-group teams, including hundreds of entries from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, New England and as far away as Colorado and Canada.
There is a Maryland-best club, Global Squad, whose multiple teams include players from England, Germany, Belgium, Japan, Korea and the Netherlands.
The Jam Fest isn’t the biggest such tournament going on around the country this weekend - that would be the Peach Jam in South Carolina. John Calipari and Penny Hardaway and Lebron James (watching his son) will be there.
Spooky Nook was loaded with mid-major and Division II-III coaches, cradling large binders full of names and phone numbers, watching and kibitzing alongside an endless flow of parents and backpack-toting players.
The NCAA recruiting calendar used to include three July weekends for evaluating players in AAU-type events. Starting this year there is just one, this one.
The NCAA did add a June evaluation period for high school teams, but in year one, events intended for that period were rare and hastily thrown together. Only two Lancaster-Lebanon League teams - McCaskey and Lancaster Catholic - got in one of the June events, and Terry had to miss it due to a conflict.
“This is it,’’ Kerry Glover said. “No question, this weekend is huge.’’
Especially for Glover, who is the coach at Columbia High School, and runs the Spooky Nook AAU program and whose son, Kerry, Jr. is a sophomore point guard at Columbia with considerable potential.
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Glover tried to get Columbia into Philly Live, a two-weekend event in June in Philadelphia for high school teams, but the Crimson Tide ended up languishing on the waiting list.
“It used to be (high school and AAU coaches) were fighting over kids,’’ Glover said. “The balance has to be there, but now we can co-exist. A lot of (high school) coaches are catching up. Next year, June is going to be big.’’
Terry has heard from Millersville, East Stroudsburg, Alibright and LaSalle. Coaches would of course like to see him dominate this weekend, but they’d also like to see him play well with others, be a good teammate and make others better.
He doesn’t see that as a problem.
“I don’t approach (these games) any different,’ he said. “I just go out and play. Scoring will take care of itself. I know I can score the ball. But I like to pass, and I try to put my teammates before I put myself.’’
The Jam Fest concludes Sunday with championship games at Spooky Nook, Millersville University and Lancaster Bible College.