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FOR a kid headed to the local elite basketball program, Trey Vincent got off to a rough start as a fourth-grader with the Columbus Revolution basketball program.
“He literally traveled 50 percent of the time he moved with a basketball,” said Revolution coach and league director Scott Wilson. “But he was so incredibly athletic. He couldn’t keep up with how fast his body was moving.
“Now he is one of our best ball handlers.”
Vincent now plays on a seventh-grade team with the Revolution, which acts as a feeder program for the local high schools. The 13-year-old has been given a solid foundation to be successful as an eventual varsity basketball player.
“Coming here, they had more coaches,” Vincent said of the one-on-one attention he has received with the Revolution. “The coaches really work with us on our fundamentals.”
Like Vincent, 13-year-old Kiel Webb has played through the Revolution program since fourth grade. Webb attends Central Middle School while Vincent attends Northside. But outside of middle school basketball, they play in the same program.
“The Revolution helped me to become a team player,” Webb said. “It’s a lot more intense at practice here and there is a lot more discipline.”
While the Revolution program still emphasizes the fun side of basketball, it is done with a serious desire to prepare the players for higher levels of basketball. Most Revolution teams have seven players on the roster, while a middle school program might keep 17 to 18 players.
Players must try out for the program, and only the best in the area earn slots.
“People don’t realize that (Columbus North coach) Jason Speer and (Columbus East coach) Brent Chitty are involved,” Wilson said. “They and their coaching staffs run tryouts to choose our program’s head coaches. They have a lot of input as to what they want.
“This program was developed to build players for high school basketball.”
Wilson noted that the Revolution has several former high school basketball coaches in its program teaching second- and third-graders. They get to work with the area’s top raw talent.
“If you take the 100 best third- and fourth-graders and put them in a basketball league, the top 15 will dominate in terms of getting the basketball,” Wilson said. “If you remove those top 15, the next 50 will move into those spots. A kid who is not counted on to bring the ball up will now be bringing it up.”
Last year, the Revolution ran 14 teams made up of 114 boys. The program is running signups now, and the amount of teams and participants is determined by talent.
“Last year we had three fourth-grade teams, three third-grade teams and one second-grade team,” Wilson said.
Those teams play other squads from outside the area. Wilson said the Columbus Revolution has a great reputation, so plenty of opponents line up to take a shot at them.
Both Vincent and Webb said the program teaches more than basketball. Players can’t question an official, and they must sign a contract that specifies they will follow six main philosophies of being a Revolution athlete.
Among those are welcoming critique from coaches and teammates, being gracious in defeat, not celebrating excessively and respecting the officials.
The program is open to Bartholomew County residents who plan to attend Columbus North, Columbus East or Columbus Signature Academy. Tryouts for second- through fourth-graders begin Friday at the Foundation For Youth gym.
The Tryouts Friday are 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for second- and third-graders; and 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. for fourth-graders.
On Saturday, second- and third-graders practice from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., while fourth-graders try out from 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
For more information about the program, go to www.columbusrevolution.com.
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