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August 12, 2012
LAX Hoops: Some Old School and NewBy Erik Woods
Reggie Theus and Doug Joseph are two of the classy guys who coach the LAX Hoops AAU squad. Joseph says with pride about his players, "They're all great kids, super students, just tough kids that go hard at it." All too often, travel teams have a "run n gun style" where kids shoot first, than ask questions later. LAX Hoops is insulated from all that, and it's refreshing to see in the AAU world.
I used to teach at Weems Elementary School, located next to USC back in the day.? Former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson used to go there. His book, Give Me the Ball Damn It is thesis of what LAX Hoops is about:? Fam playing hoops the right way.
Three of the kids from the team are "real riders" together, because they've been there for each other over the years: Reggie Theus Jr. (Fairfax), Anthony Swan (Virginia Episcopal School), and Dylan Joseph (St. Bernard) all went to the same preschool with each other at Escuela Montesorri in L.A. in 1999. Joseph, who is a rising senior at St. Bernard, says about those times, "We all learned how to cut paper and finger paint together in class. I look up at my friends and can't believe I spent my whole life with them."
LAX Hoops is more of a fam than a team, it's the reason why they can finish each other's sentences on and off the court. Swan has split his time between living in L.A. and attending a prep school in Virginia recently, but he still comes back to play with his buddies for LAX Hoops as he states, "We talk on the phone every week, we keep each other motivated to realize our dreams that we first talked about way back when. It's so fun playing with these guys that are like my brothers. Dylan gives me a little look in the game, and than it's alley-oop time to jump at the rim."
Theus Jr., Joseph, and Swan have a demeanor that reminds one of the legendary Altlanta Celtics AAU squad whose core of Randoph Morris, Josh Smith, and Dwight Howard electrified crowds with their physical talents that were heightened by knowing each other since kindergarten like this LAX Hoops trio of friends.
Doug Joseph recalls the kids growing up together, "My boy [Dylan], Reggie Jr., and Anthony were are called the 'three amigos'. So many of the kids on this LAX Hoops team played together on the ARC Gorillas team in junior high.? I'm proud to say you can point at any of them, you'll see a good kid and sharp student. They're a blessing to be around."
A key guy to spark success is Dylan Joseph, the six foot 155 lb. point for LAX Hoops. From a talent evaluator's perspective, he has good economy of movement, a good defensive skill set, and a capable handle to get the job done. As a writer for rivals.com that's written hundreds of stories, Dylan Joseph and Reggie Theus Jr. have impressed me as real "people of substance", driven to overachieve in the same vein as kids like Brandon Jennings and DeMar Derozan back in the day when I interviewed them.?
What you have to realize about Dylan Joseph is that he has a burning desire to be a pediatrician. He has a 4.2 gpa to go with ultra high ACT scores. LeBron James had the heart to be named "The Takeover" on the front cover of SLAM back in the day, you get the sense that Dylan will be the "Brainiac-Takeover", that special someone who is known for saving kids' lives. Maybe Dylan will make it to the front cover of the Journal of Medicine, and which job is more vital to society anyway?
Dylan's dad Doug Joseph speaks about his son's recruitment, "He has a half a dozen Ivy League schools tracking his games and asking for tape and transcripts, he has so much potential as a player and person to achieve great things in this life - he makes me and everyone around him so proud."
LAX Hoops reps a shoe company name, Under Armor, and is co-coached by Reggie Theus Sr. who used to coach for the Kings in the "L". This leads one to remember the adage - To those much is given, much is expected. Reggie Theus Jr. plays for his dad on this LAX Hoops team and is a humble yet excited young man that says of his goals, "I love playing basketball, my goal is just to improve all the time, I've got to seek out tough coaches who will break down my game to make me better. I just want to be as good as my dad or better as he was at the same age." You see Reggie Jr. as a kid whose not cocky at all, but he in the words of rapper Ludicris, "ain't scuurred of anything" either. He's not burdened by his father's legacy, yet rather excited to see if he can outshine it if possible.
For all you youngsters who didn't see Reggie Sr. play in the 80's like I did, he was the D-Wade of his time, albeit with gerri curls. Even I had a poster of Sac-Town Reggie on my wall growing up that featured the "King and Knights of his court." Youngsters may ask, what made Reggie Sr. such a "cold piece of work?" It's not that he was a supa college player at UNLV and coach of New Mexico St., or that he was a dupa NBA player, coach, and commentator either.
It's because he was authentic at all those jobs - he kept it real at the same time because whatever he did he was "all in." Ask Reggie Sr. about what advice he gives the LAX Hoops team and you hear what many coaches "should be" telling their players, "I tell them to have fun while they're playing, keep your dignity, and represent all that you do to the highest standard you can achieve. The kids on this team are good people and great students as well."
What I love seeing in Reggie Sr. is how he infuses his boy with that same competitive spirit he is known for. Personally, I remember seeing Darren Daye work with his boy Austin to help him become an NBA player. You see old school guys like Doc Rivers the same with his son Austin that got drafted into the NBA. It's like guys who played in the "L" know how to drop seeds of knowledge into their kids, their young bodies internalize the advice, and as they mature physically,? it allows them to get to the next level when entering college.
Talent analyst Van Coleman recently did a piece on Reggie Jr. and commented about his potential recruitment, "He is starting to be on the high major radar this year." Coleman, like others, has noticed that Reggie Jr. has a long and athletic 6-6 frame that he uses to get shots down for his team, he takes pride in defense, and his rebounding is aggressive in game situations. In the Pangos All-American and NBPA Top 100 camps he proved why he was a well followed player this summer by a lot of high majors.
I get the feeling from talking to Reggie Sr. that his boy is starting to tap into his massive potential compared to earlier in his high school years. He sees that his kid has the ability to be an all-around basketball player as he states, "The basketball world has so many shoot-off-the dribble guys. Reggie Jr. wants to be more than that. He wants to master a lot of guard skills that will help him at the next level. Being away from work this year I've had the chance to drop him off at school each day, it has been great to be there for him each day, together seeing this all happen right now."
Reggie Sr. is by his own admission "extremely competitive" and talks to his boy about being a warrior who has to come and rise to the occasion in games, "Every time you go out on the court, someone falls, and than someone gets stepped on hard. What role in that scenario do you want to be apart of?" It's the kind of tough love advice that parents need to share with their kids. I know I'll be giving that same talk with my daughter when she gets old enough to understand the value of it.
You look at Reggie Jr. and think, man this dude looks hungry. It's almost like he's in line at the In N Out of basketball, and he's about ready to order a "double-double of tough coaching" along with his own side order of fame and props to-go.
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