The Basketball Circuit: Hoops Over Hype
T.B.C. will be focus squarely on creating a basketball (not business) culture
The focus of club basketball should be the kids playing basketball. Period. It seems so simple and straightforward. But for far too long, that hasn’t been the case on the Massachusetts club basketball circuit, where the players competing on the court have taken a back seat to the business portfolios and corporate profits of the companies running the leagues.
"Right now, these leagues have gotten really corporate. They’ve been run by guys who never sweat, who never play the game – guys who just punch numbers and make money,” explained Terrell Hollins, the Basketball Director for Boston Elite Sports Training, LLC and the One Dream basketball club.
“Honestly, the priority of club basketball in Massachusetts just hasn’t been on the players for a long time,” echoed Rudy Crichlow Jr., the President/Director of Mass Commanders / ICE basketball.
Between the two of them, Crichlow and Hollins have more than 50 years of experience combined as basketball players, trainers and coaches; and both have the same assessment of what Massachusetts club basketball has become.
“Honestly, people hate the term ‘monopoly,’ but that’s what club basketball has become in Massachusetts,” explained Hollins, one of the greatest players in Brandeis University basketball history and the current head boys basketball coach at Concord Academy. According to Hollins, a lack of options for teams has allowed those running the circuits to focus on their profits at the expense of the on the court product and player experience.
“When teams don’t have any other options, their forced to just take what they’re given. And what we’ve been given has been leagues that are just focused on making money.”
“We need an alternative. I don’t know how else to explain it: We need an alternative,” echoed Crichlow, who starred for Chowan College for four years and has coached in Massachusetts for the better part of two decades.
With the launch of The Basketball Circuit, Massachusetts finally has an alternative. “T.B.C.”, as it is known, is a new club circuit for boys and girls teams from 3rd through 12th grade, created by a group of former hoopers and headed up by Corey Lowe. T.B.C. promises to prioritize basketball over everything else.
“We’re completely focused on hoops and trying to create a hoop culture,” explained Lowe, one of the greatest players in both Massachusetts’ high school and college history, having starred at Newton North High School and Boston University.
According to Lowe, everyone involved with T.B.C, from the operations all the way up to the administration, has a background playing the game of basketball, which will lead to a very unique player experience. “We’re not some guys who have never played before. And we’re coming at this with a player perspective and player focus.”
The value of a basketball-focused circuit is evident to Ilya Nicholas, the boys varsity head coach at St. Mark’s School and the of President of BSS/ Mass Select basketball.
“It’s player-driven, where you have guys who have great pedigrees as players and great pedigrees as coaches running the league,” explained Nicholas. “It’s going to be completely different from anything we’ve had before and I can’t wait.”
T.B.C. promises to provide the teams and players suiting up the most competitive hoops experience on the court, with a suite of services off the court, including live streaming, highlight videos, photography, live statistics, and weekly coverage.
“Corey is trying to offer a full-service thing. So you’ll get your events here, you get your trainings here, you’re going to get live-streaming, videos produced for you, college scouting,” said Nicholas, adding “it will be a one-stop shop.”
Additionally, with all games played at a central venue at the Mill Works in Westford, Mass., T.B.C. promises scheduling convenience for families and a basketball atmosphere unmatched anywhere else.
“Having all the games under one roof is huge,” said Nicholas.
“Before, you never had all these teams playing at one location,” said Crichlow. “Now you’ll be able to have all the different teams from the same program playing at the same place, so they’ll be able to go and cheer each other on and that’s going to be incredible.”
“The environment is going to be contagious and bring an excitement we’ve never had before to an already exciting game,” added Hollins.
T.B.C.’s inaugural spring season tips off on Friday, March 26th, and will run Friday-Sunday for six weekends, with a plan of having seasons year-round.