HAMPTON — Sometimes the team is set in September. Sometimes, well, sometimes players shake hands with each other on the court before the first game.
Putting together the four traveling Boo Williams Summer League basketball teams is a cross between completing a jigsaw puzzle and outfoxing your opponent in a chess game.
From the extensive BWSL program, Williams sponsors top-level boys traveling teams. Two play at the 17-and-under age level, one at the 16-under and the other at the 15-under level.
Williams expects all four teams to be competitive, especially the 17-under elite team. So does the program's primary sponsor, Nike.
That means a constant quest for the best players available with the Amateur Athletic Union rules.
Here's how it works. The "territory" for the BWSL is the state of Virginia, minus the area of suburban Washington past Woodbridge.
Any basketball player in the territory can play for Williams' teams, plus he can have three "import" players from states or territories that touch Virginia, such as North Carolina, Maryland and the Northern Virginia area. And the player's residence is what counts, not where he goes to high school.
From there, the coaching staff goes to work.
"We want to get the right mix, the right chemistry, the right players," said Williams. "We see what we have coming up throughout our program, then we see our holes, such as do we need a point guard?"
Harry Rest, a former high school coach in Virginia and the District of Columbia, is a longtime aide to Williams.
"It's a lot different now," he said. "In the old days, we could pretty much snap our fingers and we got kids. Now we've got competition. We've created our own monster."
That's because other programs have sprung up, such as the Richmond Squires, and they're competing with Williams' team for the same players.
"We've lost a couple kids in the last few years that we would liked to have," said Rest. "We wanted the kid from GW-Danville, C.J. Barksdale, this year, but he selected the Richmond Squires."
Said Williams: "We do lose some, but we don't lose that many."
So from last year's 17-under team, the only returnees are point guard Kendall Marshall of Bishop O'Connell in Arlington and shooting guard Andre Dawkins of Atlantic Shores Christian in Chesapeake.
That meant 10 open spots had to be filled, through a series of invitations and preseason tryouts.
And a lot of scouting by Rest and assistant coaches Maxie Anderson and Robbie Williams.
"Our staff does a great job of scouting. You've gotta have people put time in and evaluate talent," said Williams. "And it's different now than it used to be. Now, since we have four teams, you have to come up with 60 players.
"When it comes time to pick the elite team, it's a cross between invitations and tryouts," said Williams. "We do tryouts, but most of the kids, we know enough about them. We'll have 15 or 16 kids, not 100 kids. You don't have that much time, you have three weeks to prepare yourselves."
BOO WILLIAMS INVITATIONAL
Boo, staff, chase top regional players to form elite teams
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