The Mid Ohio Pumas are a non-profit organization that was started nine years ago as a mix of 2nd and 3rd graders from Hilliard, OH, who had never played basketball before and are now in the 11th and 12th grade. That 2020 team has since integrated with other young men across Central Ohio, and has now won over 60 championships and over 500 wins in 8 years while competing at the highest level of AAU. That group finished 2017 ranked #1 in the state of Ohio for the 7th consecutive year and 3rd Nationally by Indi Hoops in 2016 and 24th Nationally by Prep Hoops in 2017.
Our program has accumulated more than 170 championships overall. This year we will have 50 teams covering the great state of Ohio!
With over 30 current or former College, High School and Middle School coaches leading teams in the program, we can confidently say that no other AAU program in the State has this type of leadership guiding their young men.
We are also proud to have a working relationship with Denison University Head Coach Chris Sullivan and former Capital University player Tyrel Jackson as our official Puma Trainers.
You can read more below about how our program is structured.
President Mid Ohio Pumas
In grades 1st-3rd we will create development training teams that we will focus on skill alone. We will not be offering these age groups an opportunity to play AAU, as it will only set the young player back in their development. These will be skill and play sessions throughout the spring, run by our training staff.
In Grades 4-6th we will work with each coach and team to build teams that are balanced with size and skill. In some cases, car pooling and locality will play a part on how we finalize a roster. You will have the opportunity to collaborate as coaches to ensure a level of equality. The on the court result may not always ensure equal results, as that is in the hands of players and coaches to deliver.
In grades 7-8th we will be conducting a process to position the best 16-20 players evaluated by coaches and basketball consultants (college and former nba players) into 2 teams, and they will be considered our Elite teams for that year and play the highest level of schedule possible, with a high chance of winning most tourneys.
The next 21-40 players will go into teams that may have regional preferences. Ex: a group of really good kids who may or may not have been selected in the top 40 players, but geographically felt it was better to play on a team that had players with similar geographic proximity (Southeast or Northeast Ohio for example).
These teams will play a high level of schedule as well, as it will be important for their development. However, based on the makeup there is less of a chance that they would finish as a tourney finalist in some of these tourneys.
The next 40+ players will be positioned on equal teams and play a customized schedule designated by the coach and the personnel of the team. This may include a player or two who plays a second sport in the spring. The number of teams here will be predicated on the number coaches that volunteer their time to help out. These players are individuals that would not have made the cut with just 4 teams, but it is our belief that everyone deserves a chance to keep developing as long as we have the resources to support them. This does not mean they are not good players, but just are not in the top 40 players of our program- “today”!
High School Division
The HS division will target a similar philosophy as listed above with the MS section, however we will send as many teams as we can to tournaments that allow for college coaches to evaluate. At this stage in AAU it’s not about winning tourneys, it’s about performing in tourneys for possible exposure. Most of the teams here are usually very balanced outside 1-2 teams carrying our premiere D1-D2 players. This is intentional to maintain a Brand Presence in the eyes of college coaches. They ask that we send our best 10-20 players on two teams so that they can evaluate the various levels of players.
The remaining players that are garnering primarily D3 or no college interest will play together for the most part, and attend tourneys suited for their appropriate exposure. This process is very fluid throughout HS.
Have an Open Mind to a Better Way
Create the Unexpected Experience
Always be Teaching
Build Life Long Friendships
You will notice that none of them resemble Winning, Toughness, Grind etc. Those type of values should be expected and they have a home with your school sports, where practices and time spent as a player is more invested. Our program knows our role.
If we as coaches, along with the parents ,are executing with an open mind to do things better and create a unexpected experience for our kids, players, opponents, refs, etc, while in moments of success and in moments of adversity. Then in these teaching moments we will have the unique opportunity to influence lives and create bonds among each player, coach and family that will last a lifetime beyond the game of basketball.
Our opportunity is to prepare them for MS, HS, possibly college and life after sports . To many AAU programs try to mimic being a different version of school entities, or feel they are more important to a players success then their school. In essence our program should be a supporting subset of the athletic platforms that matter– school sports. AAU travel basketball as a MID OHIO PUMA is about developing and preparing for school ball, not trumping those school experiences.
Team and Player Placements
Some players may receive offers from coaches from different levels and may choose the team they feel fits best.
Our goal is to build multiple levels of teams from elite to developing for each grade level.
Roster Building Process
We use an Opportunity Based Roster Formation Model.
Starting at the Middle School level, build 2 elite rosters per grade level and play those teams in elite tournaments.
It’s in the best interest of the player. High level players want to play in high-level tournaments with high-level teammates.
It has been our experience that if we do not build elite teams that those players leave and go somewhere that will.
Our focus is on our young men. We feel that the best thing we can do to serve them is to give them as many opportunities as we can.
We need to identify as many high-level players as we can by getting them to tryouts.
Once we identify these players we need to offer them an opportunity to play with an elite team.
DO PLAYERS HAVE TO PLAY FOR THE ELITE TEAM?
Absolutely not. This is about opportunity. If we said they had to play with that team then we would be limiting their opportunities not expanding them.
CAN THERE BE MORE THAN TWO ELITE TEAMS?
Absolutely. But we need a starting point. We feel that starting point is 2. With 2 we can ensure at least 2 elite teams will be built to serve those players. AFTER those 2 teams are built THEN we can look at building more.
IS OPPORTUNITY-BASED ROSTER FORMATION JUST ABOUT ELITE TEAMS?
No. We will have teams that fit everyone’s needs. But in the last few years we have SPECIFICALLY NOTICED our elite subgroup being minimized. We recognized that this needs to be prioritized, which is why it is our focus.
We feel that watering down the explanation of our model with detailed explanations of all subgroups would dilute the message.
Opportunity-Based Roster Formation means ALL players of all subgroups should get as many opportunities as they can regardless of level.
4th: Dorsey, Thomas
5th: Turner, Guth, Hajjar
6th: Moore, Craig, Richards
Middle School Pumas
7th Elite: Collins, Sever
7th Regional: Sayre, Banaszak
7th Local: To Be Determined
8th Elite: Ross/Norris, Russell/Morgan
8th Regional: Rodich/Wyant, Brenning, Terek, Thomas
8th Local: To Be Determined
High School Pumas
Time Commitment Expected
We will host a skill training night for the entire program once per week every week for 8 weeks at Big Run Athletic Complex and/or Otterbein University.
Spring Tournament Schedules
We shut almost every team down by June 1st. The HS teams will play 1-3 tourneys in July. a top 8th grade team may play a tourney in July.
We play in six tourneys for 4-6th and six/seven tourneys in MS and HS depending on the tourneys chosen, as certain tourneys cost twice as much as others. The schedule is budget driven.
We do not really travel any further than the contiguous states of KY, IN, MI, PA. Top teams may see Chicago, Nashville or Atlanta. Some parents may agree to take a team to one of these locations as a semi vacation/tourney weekend. We recommend a schedule to a specific coach but he has the final approval.
Every team will play in the MID OHIO PUMAS Classic 4/18/20, unless the coach says otherwise.
Expect this for 4-6th:
March: 2 tourneys (Buckeye Prep, New Albany, Dublin or FT Wayne, IN)
April: 2 tourneys we don’t play on Easter.
May: 2 tourneys
Expect this for MS:
March: 1-2 tourney (Buckeye Prep, New Albany, Dublin or FT Wayne, IN)
April: 3 tourneys we don’t play on Easter. (Local, Cincy, IN, KY)
May: 2 tourneys TBD
June: Maybe 1
Expect this for HS:
March: 0 tourneys
April: 3 tourneys we don’t play on Easter. (Indianapolis or Pittsburgh)
May: 1 tourney (May 5th FT Wayne)
July: 2-3 tourneys (Louisville, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis)
We don’t play a lot in May for HS due to proms, graduations, and there just aren’t a lot of tourneys where college coaches attend. We use this month for them lifting, training, college visits, ACT/SAT
We want the coaches determining the best way to do that. We offer great instruction in practice and in our skill sessions, and that where your son is getting better. In tourney situations all players will play, not all players will play equally.
Coach Selection Process
You can become a better player losing every game, just as much as winning every game! Our coaches sign a letter of accountability we will share with you. This outlines our expectations.
All deposits regardless of grade are $400. All fees below will have a PayPal processing fee added to the total. Fee will be finalized 1-1-2020. Allow up to a 10% adjustment due to cost of uniforms and gym rental increases.
$825 for 7-HS
$725 for 4th-6th grade
$225-$400 for 1st-3rd grade Junior Puma Basketball Sports Academies. These will be held in both the Spring and Fall.
We do pay our coaches and our trainers
Covers all tourneys
Gym Rentals for Practices and Skill Nights
Organizational administrative fees
Cleo Athletic Complex
Ball House Plain City
HS Gyms where your coach may access. Those aren’t determined yet.
Stay in the know for tryout and training opportunities.