BOZICH: Ellis Myles Building Magical AAU Power - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH: Ellis Myles Building Magical AAU Power

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Former U of L star Ellis Myles believes he has 11 Division I players on his Louisville Magic AAU team. Former U of L star Ellis Myles believes he has 11 Division I players on his Louisville Magic AAU team.

INDIANAPOLIS (WDRB) – The coaches were looking for seats nearly 20 minutes before the game that Ellis Myles' Louisville Magic AAU basketball team was about to play in a junior high gym on massive North Central High School campus.

John Robic, John Calipari's top assistant at Kentucky, reserved a folding chair in the front row. Thad Matta, the man who coached Ohio State to the Final Four, slid in next to Robic.

Billy Donovan of Florida was parked on the baseline, next Rick Pitino of Louisville and Richard Pitino of Florida International. Stan Heath (South Florida), Jim Larranaga (Miami) and Brian Gregory (Georgia Tech) were there. As were assistants from Indiana, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Tennessee, Alabama and Samford.

Final score: The Magic defeated Florida Elite, a team with at least three Division I prospects, by 39. They dominated three games in their "Super" pool in the adidas Invitational, the  most competitive AAU tournament in the Midwest, by an average margin of 42 points.

Final count: More than 35 Division I programs scouted the Magic players.

"Remember," Ellis Myles said, "that's two days in a row everybody came out to watch some 16s, not 17 (year-olds). My guys are two years away."

It's summer basketball. Counting the coaches wedged into small gyms is as critical as counting points on the scoreboard. Myles not only noticed the famous faces, he told his players to look at the crowd, too. He has an 11-player team. Five of the 11, guys like Ballard guard Quentin Snider and former Central star D'Angelo Russell, have already earned Division I scholarship offers.

"My job is not finished," Myles said. "I won't be successful until all 11 have DI offers."

If Myles, 30, sounds unusually motivated and prideful that's because he is unusually motivated and prideful. Recruited by Denny Crum, Myles finished his University of Louisville playing career for Pitino, overcoming a serious knee injury to start in the frontline for the Cards' 2005 NCAA Final Four team.

He's a guy who almost returned home to Compton, Calif., several times – and was also asked to return to Compton several times. He is a fierce and occasionally volatile presence who benefited greatly from five years at U of L. Myles coaches with the same energy he that he played, pacing, stomping, urging. By game's end, his thick voice is often a rasp.

Myles wants to coach. He does not hide his ambitions. He wants to coach major college basketball or the NBA. He hasn't been able to land an assistant's position or even a high school job.

So in 2011 Myles assembled his team.  He called it the Louisville Magic. He solicited community support because he wanted to play in national events – and win. He was not interested in staging tryouts or assembling a team that would be happy with participation ribbons. His idea was to build something that has been missing in Kentucky for years – a team capable of competing on the national stage with proven AAU programs such as Indiana Elite, the Atlanta Celtics, Team Takeover and Garner Road.

"I just wanted to have guys who wanted to fit into the way that I was taught how to play," Myles said.

"He knows his Xs and Os," Scott Snider said. "He makes the kids give everything on the floor. And he focuses a lot on defense, which is where you win games.

"He gets on them. They get mad at him, like kids are going to do. He does a great job of being the good guy and the bad guy at the same time."

Snider's son, Quentin, is one of five with a Division I offer. He has committed to U of L. Russell is being pursued by U of L, UK, IU, North Carolina, Florida and a cast of thousands.

Until all these guys are signed by April 2014, Ellis Myles will remain an extremely popular man. I'd suggest a cell phone plan with unlimited calling and texting. After finishing tournament play in Indianapolis this weekend, the Magic will compete in Milwaukee next week and in Las Vegas the end of the month.

"Our goal is to win every tournament we play in," Russell said.

"That would be nice," Myles said. "But I'm not satisfied at all. We have 11 guys. We have six more that we need to get scholarships."

Copyright 2012 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.



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