By Mark Lewis
Local Sports Journal

While many coaches give lip service to the responsibility they have as teachers and mentors to mold their players into responsible adults, one Fort Wayne-area group is putting its money where its mouth is.

For the past 22 years , Fort Wayne-area youth have had the benefit of winning championships as players for Legit Basketball while becoming a well-rounded people as well. AYBT's focus on skill and character development means its relationship with Legit Basketball is an excellent match. (Contributed Photo)

For the past 22 years , Fort Wayne-area youth have had the benefit of winning championships as players for Legit Basketball while becoming a well-rounded people as well. AYBT’s focus on skill and character development means its relationship with Legit Basketball is an excellent match. (Contributed Photo)

Or rather, it is putting its time and effort where its mouth is.

Legit Basketball, a 22-year old skills program that started as an attempt by founder Arthur Gregory to help his daughter learn the finer points of basketball, has blossomed into something much bigger than its humble beginnings, when Gregory’s daughter’s friends got into the act to form the first Lady Legit squad.

Now, more than two decades later, the organization has churned out over 50 All-State and Indiana All-Stars player, and over 100 now attend college on full-ride scholarships.

To that end, the group doesn’t just worry about basketball, instead taking a proactive approach to many other areas of a young student-athlete’s life. In fact, said Legit Basketball’s current director, Juan Gorman, basketball is often used as a way to get youngsters in the door and engaged. Once that happens, lessons learned on the court can then be extended more broadly.

“Out mission is to provide academic instruction,” said Gorman, “and strong mentoring relationships to youth in Fort Wayne and surrounding areas, using basketball as an incentive to encourage personal growth. Ninety-nine percent of the players participating in our program are Fort Wayne kids.”

Players for Legit Basketball have played extensively in American Youth Basketball Tour (AYBT) events, and the relationship has worked out pretty well due to both organizations’ focus on skill and character development.

“AYBT is a perfect balance for what we believe in our program,” said Gorman. “We stress fundamentals, and we move at a slower pace than others.  Having AYBT events in our area allows our program to find events that better fit the skill set of our younger and late-age bloomers. (The AYBT) rule of everyone plays is a great balance of teaching, because it gives everyone an opportunity to see where they are in their basketball development against similar levels of competition.  This sets (AYBT apart) from others, because the focus isn’t always about winning.”

Players from Legit Basketball take part in a variety of events in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. Many of those teams play at the Fort Wayne Nationals event, held in mid-July, and a few of them have won national titles.

In fact, Gorman’s first group of players won the 7th Grade girls national title. Gorman said that entire group in now attending college.

“All of their first competitive basketball games were AYBT events,” said Gorman.

Since that incredible start, Legit Basketball has been a labor of love. From Art Gregory to Gorman, who has been with the organization for 12 years, the organization survives through the efforts of its many volunteers.

“Our program is run by myself,” Gorman explained. “But we have a full slate of volunteers who help make it a success.  Our program is like no other.  All of the adults in our program are volunteering his or her time for free.  Our coaches and administrators are not paid.  If they have kids involved, they pay club fees the same as others participants in the program.”

That large network of volunteers has come to relay on AYBT’s focus on skill and team building.

“AYBT allows players to feel a part of a team even if their contribution is small,” said Gorman. “Playing in every game lets those players with less basketball skill be a part of a team by given them an opportunity to play.”

Then he added, “The AYBT program has been a Godsend to our program in so many ways!”

The American Youth Basketball Tour is America’s foremost leader in team basketball skills and character development. For more information on AYBT district tournaments and events, head over to http://aybtour.com/.

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One Response so far.

  1. jim clay says:

    great write up on a great man and a program I greatly respect and have since its beginnings.

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