Sources: Adidas out of summer camps; Nike next?

Updated: September 27, 2006, 8:19 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

One elite basketball camp will cease to exist, and two others may follow next summer, in a complete change of the summer college basketball recruiting scene.

During Tuesday's mega basketball summit meeting in Indianapolis with the NCAA, NBA, USA Basketball, NABC, AAU, High School, Nike and Adidas, Martin Brewer, Adidas' director of sports marketing for the U.S., announced that Adidas wouldn't run its elite camp the first week of July in suburban Atlanta, multiple sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday.

Upon Brewer making that announcement, Nike's representative, George Raveling, said that the giant sneaker firm may follow suit, according to sources. Multiple sources told ESPN.com that Nike is leaning in that direction as well to go away from holding the all-American camp in Indianapolis.

An official announcement could be coming soon from both camps.

Meanwhile, this may put pressure on Sonny Vaccaro, who owns and runs the Reebok-sponsored ABCD camp in Teaneck, N.J., to shut down as well. Reebok, which is owned by Adidas but operates its basketball operations independently of its parent company, may look at sponsoring this event with Adidas backing out of the camp scene. Vaccaro, who has traditionally landed the top players in the country, would have a monopoly if he chooses to stay with his current format. But Nike and Adidas will look to a different form of summer basketball with Nike most likely expanding on its successful skill development camp. Adidas is also reassessing its summer basketball programs. The feeling among Adidas hierarchy is that it has outgrown the current format of pickup games with coaches already knowing the players before they arrive. So, there is little evaluating going on at these camps.

The committee that met, including NBA commissioner David Stern and NCAA president Myles Brand, isn't coming up with one blanket plan as of yet. While Vaccaro, who wasn't invited to the meeting, offered up an idea with some of the same people for a basketball academy that would house, educate and develop some of the top players in the country for college, the NBA and USA Basketball, this committee isn't discussing just one idea.

Instead, multiple sources said, there is more of a movement being discussed to improve the socioeconomic, educational and basketball skills of the youth who could end up donning college, NBA and USA jerseys in years to come.

The consensus, according to multiple sources, is that high school basketball won't be or maybe even can't be altered. Rather, the focus is much more on the spring and summer. Nike sponsors a number of other skill development camps that are more in line with the intent of preparing players than the elite camp in Indianapolis where games rule the agenda. The NBA Players Association camp held in late June is also lauded as a step in the right direction. The camp, held in Richmond, might be moving to Virginia's campus in Charlottesville.

Said one source with knowledge of the committee's discussions, "this is a complex problem and there is not one easy solution."

College coaches wouldn't likely complain if the camps were dissolved. Going back to the days when there were more camps like Five Star Basketball camp in Pennsylvania would be welcomed. This wouldn't affect the traditional AAU tournaments in Orlando, either. Nor would this affect the Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas, also owned by Vaccaro, where teamplay, albeit shoddy at times, is still the intent. Coaches don't mind seeing and evaluating actual teams that know how to play together.

There has been a movement for years to get recruiting back to the high schools rather than the summer league. Getting more involvement from USA Basketball when it comes to skill development has also been a rallying cry. Funding is still an issue to pull this off.

Vaccaro is trying to build bridges with his basketball academy plan after getting representatives from the NCAA, Stern and USA Basketball senior men's managing director Jerry Colangelo on the phone. He is still looking at writing up a proposal in the next week to further push the academy for a 2008 debut.

Meanwhile, college coaches feel empowered to push even more for access to their players over the summer. They have tried in the past but have been rejected. But the consensus was that if the summer is changed then the influence for players in college should be their college coach. Most players stay on campus for the summer yet aren't allowed to work out with their coach. College coaches are hoping that they can get access, even four hours a week, to their players to help with skill development, let alone continue to build relationships.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com