We Must Be Heard!
Pryme Tyme may be the Midwest’s best kept secret in AAU.
by Dave Spahn / @davespahn
When people talk about the most successful AAU teams in the Midwest, the teams Meanstreets, Indiana Elite, All Ohio Red, Spiece Indy Heat, Mac Irvin Fire, Wisconsin Playground Warriors, Illinois Wolves, and many more come to mind. All of those teams are sponsored by some type of sneaker company and possess the big-time talent that draws the attention of major college coaches. Teams without sponsorship money get left behind in the dust of the sponsored teams. Players choose teams that get them maximum exposure and minimum costs. After all, why would a player pay to play on a team and get seen by fewer colleges?
But one team has managed to consistently beat larger and more exposed teams year in and year out. That team, and the owner of the three aforementioned records, is Pryme Tyme.
Founded by Anthony “Doc” Cornell in 1992, Pryme Tyme is based out of Rockford, IL. His first graduating class of seniors came in 1997, and his kids have compiled an 84 percent success rate into college to this day. He currently coaches the 17U Pryme Tyme team this spring, guiding them to a 22-3 record with many more games to go. Last year, the same squad played to an astounding 58-4 record. Two years ago? Try 65-5. His team has winning down to a science and has played the role of underdog as well as David vs Goliath.
It baffles many as to how this team has garnered an incredible record yet not only is rarely talked about in their home state, and also doesn’t even have a shoe deal.
“I think it kind of just made us hungrier,” said Doc. “We have worked harder as a group because the kids actually have to fund raise and bust our butts if we want to go to an event. Other teams are flying to tournaments, and we’re driving little cars with five guys crammed in each.”
Doc has a few great pieces to his team, starting with 6-0 floor general Fred Van Vleet, one of the top point guards in Illinois. An elite level passer, Van Vleet possesses the basketball IQ of a college player right now. He plays the role of “coach on the floor,” literally directing his teammates during almost every possession on where to go. Van Vleet may not have been blessed with great size for his position, but his floor vision and ball handling allows him to knife his way through the defense with ease.
Van Vleet gets some help in the backcourt from 6-2 slasher Marcus Posley. Posley specializes in getting to the rim and finishing in traffic. He does whatever it takes to blow by his man, either scoring a bucket or dishing to an open teammate. Both prospects rank among the top-20 in the state of Illinois in the Class of 2012 and project to be very solid college players at the Division I level. The 6-1 combo guard Lamark Foote brings an added level of toughness to this team, and AJ Uhrig, Qauvion Scott, David Hellstrom, Gerry Ford Jr and Tae Rae Turner make up the supporting cast.
Doc has had a hard time finding sponsors for his team to get to Orlando for the AAU national event. His team cancelled trips to events because of low funds—something that usually demoralizes a team’s morale. Pryme Tyme uses their situation as motivation to keep moving forward and beating high-level teams. Doc created multiple fundraising opportunities for his team throughout the year, including an All-Star game for past players in the program going head to head against his current team.
“We’re in Rockford. We’re in between Chicago, Milwaukee and Peoria. We’re the stepbrother of major basketball cities. We have to go earn our respect and earn our way to the big time tournaments.”
Beating high profile teams such as Indiana Elite, Mo-Kan Elite, Athletes First, Wisconsin Playground Elite, Meanstreets, Full Package, and others has given Pryme Tyme the confidence to never back down from a challenge. They love seeing their names in a pool with well-known teams, viewing every match-up as an opportunity to create a name for themselves.
“It’s the biggest unintentional advantage anyone could ever have,” explained Van Vleet. “People talk bad about you and ignore you. It’s motivation. At the same time, the other team is too loose. When we go out there and punch them in the mouth from the start, it’s hard for them to bounce back. It’s like the big bully picking on the little kid, but the bully doesn’t know the little kid can fight.”
Their hard work and persistence to excellence is a breath of fresh air in today’s grassroots game. If they can fundraise as well as they can execute the full court press, Pryme Tyme will be flying first class to Orlando come July.