Southern Stampede 16u - Video Preview
For years, Mike Stokes and Matt Scott, the coaches of the Southern Stampede 16 & Under AAU basketball team, have shared the goal of competing in the Spring and Summer's premiere basketball tournament: The EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam, hosted by Nike at North Augusta's Riverview Park. And Stokes' team, whose core is playing together for the sixth consecutive AAU season, is poised to achieve that goal this July.
"Playing in the Peach Jam has been our goal since the Augusta Metros (the team's original name) days. And we have been telling the players for years that reaching that goal would take lots of hard work," assistant coach Matt Scott recently shared.
And the Stampede's players have certainly followed their coaches' instructions. Most of the players travel from well outside of the Augusta area to practice on Friday, Saturday (usually twice), and Sunday during the team's March preseason practice period. And all players work on their individual skills and strength and conditioning during the week to be prepared for the AAU season's marathon weekends of ultra-competitive game play.
But while the ultimate goal is well within reach, the Stampede will have to earn its way to the AAU circuit's most noteworthy tournament. The 16 & Under division's "Sweet Sixteen" field is chosen by Nike's "grassroots" organization based on the performance of the various Nike sponsored teams during the season's key EYBL events. The two in which the Stampede plan to compete include the March 27-29 EYBL event in Hampton, Virginia, and the May 11-13 event in Dallas, Texas. The team also plans to compete in tournaments in Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia.
The team's talented roster has caused some to project that the Stampede will be one of the nation's top five 16 & Under AAU teams. But the coaches and players look forward to proving themselves on the court. And they hope that the last leg of this six year journey, which began with the recent practices in Augusta, and which will continue during tournaments across the country, will end in a familiar place: the EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam, in North Augusta, South Carolina.