Friday, November 25, 2016

EXCLUSIVE G3 Grind Exposures the Truth About Life on the Shoe Circuit

The AAU world at times can be a grimy business; and it becomes even more serious and treacherous once you get to the high school side where money, contracts, shoe affiliations can impact a multitude of decisions and movement.

Mike Saunders out of Indiana and formally of the George Hill All-Stars entered this world roughly 90-days ago. In a exclusive we sat down with Saunders of the newly formed G3 Grind who we featured in an article earlier this week.

The purpose? After being one of the most respected organization and coaches on the middle and grammar school side we wanted to see if our theory was true and find out what his experience has been in this new world of high school circuit contracts.

Click below at your own risk and unlock the truth; you wont be able to unsee this.

P2B-Congrats on new relationship with Under Armour. Can you tell us how this partnership came together.

Saunders-Thank you. Its kind of funny but honestly it started with a text message to Kyle Simpson about Brevin Jefferson. Brevin was gonna attend Southport where Kyle coaches and I wanted to let him know I was there to support Brevin and him and if he needed anything let me know. He then went to see Brevin play in Vegas and we talked, even in Vegas we never brought up the UA deal because honestly I thought Mike Peterson had the deal. Once we got back to Indy we talked about UA, his vision, me and George's plans, and cleared up some rumors about each other.

P2B-So is George Hill still involved despite not being with Under Armour? 

Saunders-He is 100 percent involved. Its George, Me, Kyle Simpson and Brian Keaton. Me, Kyle, and Brian talked first. Brian Keaton coached for EG1017U last year. Brian has coached alot of talent and is very connected with college coaches. Once we talked and broke down the vision of the program, we met at George Hill's house and G3Grind was developed. But shoutout to Kyle Simpson because he has the direct connection with UA, he is bringing us in to help continue to develop talent and get maximum exposure.

P2B-We spoke off the record about how relationships have changed since you joined UA, can you elaborate on that.

Saunders-Its crazy because you hear people that you thought was with you our supported you take shots at your character, question your relationship with kids, shoot down any accomplishments you may have achieved. Your like a sitting duck because you don't live by the same moral compass as them. 

P2B-How can any question what you have accomplished and the kids you have developed at young ages. G3 is a national brand with multiple boys and girls at the High school level with D1 offers.

Saunders- Bro, that's the game, they try convince these parents that they hold the key to your child getting exposure. That someone that has been apart of your life since day one isn't capable of getting you to the next level. He don't have the resources, the connection, the former players on staff or playing professional." You will be the next whoever, if your with us"

P2B-How do you counter that tactic?

Saunders-Just provide information, be open with parents. Continue to develop kids at a young age and build relationships with the families. Everything is digital now, people see the relationships, they see kids getting scholarship offers and exposure at young ages. The shoe circuits are great, but we all know 8th and 9th graders getting looks before the summer of there freshman year. UA gives us a platform to continue targeting kids at a young age, develop them and then once they reach high school they can compete in the UA Association. We not waiting till there freshman year to build a relationship, we targeting the younger groups also. Now we have the stability to let them know the commitment at a young age will be rewarded by playing on the circuit in high school.  

P2B-What is the dynamics in regards to teams. Will you have multiple teams in each age groups?

Saunders-Yes, we will have 5th grade up to 17U. We believe we have the top 5th grade group in the state, coached by Eric Jackson. I love the direction we going with the 7th grade group. We currently are looking to build in the 6th and 8th. Just trying to find the right pieces. We have an unbelievable girls team. We will have 15U-17U teams competing in the UA Association. Most importantly, we will continue to play against the Nike, Adidas, and independent teams. We will not play the same teams every weekend. We want to play the best regardless of shoe affiliation.

P2B-Why Under Armour?

Saunders-We needed long term stability for these middle school kids. I take pride in recognizing kids at a young age. Look at the amount of talent in Indiana, boys and girls 2018-2021. You would be amazed at how many kids have repped G3 in elementary and middle school. We didn't want to keep losing kids in high school because we wasn't on the circuit. We also wanna help some of these independent coaches build there teams up, not tear them apart, because we value the relationships they have already developed. All the credit goes to Kyle Simpson, he believed in what we trying to do, he understands how important development and family means to me and George. 

P2B-Lastly, your 2020 group, probably one of the most nationally known groups in the country. How has those kids adjusted to High School basketball?

Saunders-I just gave George an update on the boys Hunter Jackson, Kenny Tracy, Brevin Jefferson, Rick Wedlow, Trey Galloway, Deontae Craig, Roy Higgins, Kolten Sanford, and Mike Saunders are all playing varsity at 3A/4A schools. With the exception of one or two, they all are starting. Most of the others play JV at 4A schools. We added a 6'4 kid that I believe could be the best one out of all of them, and Jeremy Baker. I know you guys are familiar with Baker from the UA combine and Buckeye Prep camp.

P2B-We appreciate the time and we will continue to follow the evolution UA G3Grind 

Saunders-I appreciate you guys and the exposure you give these kids. Last thing I wanna do is thank all my G3 kids and families. I love all them, they made all this happen. Kyle Simpson, Brian Keaton, G. Hill. Also,let me say this about Chriss Beyers and Mike Fox. They run Indiana Elite, they actually was the first ones to really open doors for more kids.The dynamics just didn't work out, but I am truly blessed that they educated me on a lot of the travel stuff at the high school level. Cant say enough about Beyers.

..Thanks for the interview and see you on the circuit.



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