National club basketball tourney showcases high school athletes

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For the first year ever, a national club basketball tournament came to Albuquerque.

“That opportunity alone just being able to play one game in front of that many college coaches is a blessing, especially for our kids in New Mexico to be able to get that kind of opportunity,” said Brandon Mason. He is the president of the Albuquerque Basketball Club, and Friday night his team played in the tournament.

Organizers of the Grind Session World Championship Series said this was not about overshadowing the NMAA state basketball tournament that wraps up Saturday.

Grind Session is a winter series of basketball events for the best high school club players in the country.

“I think it is just giving our kids another option,” Mason said. “I think the state tournament has been incredible, I’m a fan, I’ve been there all week cheering for kids.”

Mason said in his eyes it’s not that one is better than the other, it’s just another opportunity for athletes. The tournament draws large numbers of college and NBA scouts to watch.

Scott Waldrop, the president of the Grind Session, said it’s more convenient for scouts this way.  

“You have so much talent in one spot, college coaches want to see all of that talent at once rather than going to each high school here and there,” Waldrop said.

Waldrop said the Grind Session has sent several players to the NBA and thousands to Division I colleges.

In New Mexico, recently there’s been major misunderstandings about pitting NMAA sports against club sports.

Sally Marquez, executive director of the NMAA, said the proposed bylaw would only impact athletes who go out of state for sports academies and then come back to New Mexico.

These “transfer” athletes basically scoop up varsity spots from student-athletes who played their entire careers at one school, she said.

The bylaw is not official yet, but if it does pass, in total this proposal would affect only about 10 athletes across the state.

For more frequently asked questions about this proposed bylaw, you can watch this video from the NMAA.