Jeff Haws’ Top 10 List

At The List HQ, we’ll watch basketball at whatever level we can get – high school, NBA, NCAA, middle school, church league, playground, Space Jam. We’re not picky.

But, as high school sports nuts, we clearly prefer the local kids to all those high-profile folks you see on TV all the time.

And for good reason, we think. Sure, the NBA and college feature loads of talent, but nothing beats what you’ll see in your local gyms three times a week this time of year. Here are the top 10 reasons high school basketball is better than those bigger leagues.

10. No TV (for the most part)

There’s an occasional big high school game on TV, but that’s fairly rare. Meanwhile, you can’t swing a dead cat in the winter without hitting another NBA or college game on the tube. So what’s the problem? Well, why even bother getting off the couch to experience games in person when you can watch from home? And we all know nothing is better than being right there in person to see the next big thing.

9. Consistent uniforms

Does anyone else get tired of NBA and college teams having Sunday uniforms and holiday uniforms and Tuesday uniforms and “We didn’t feel like doing laundry” uniforms, just to try to make another buck at the merchandise store? Without that concern, high school teams can stick with tradition and give us largely the same unis from season to season.

8. Small gyms

Sure, it’s great to sell another thousand or so tickets, but there’s no question the atmosphere is louder and crazier in some of the smallest, most intimate arenas. While so many NBA and college teams are playing in front of 15,000-plus seats, most high school teams will cram a few hundred in and be drowned in noise.

7. REALLY local rivalries

Yeah, there are some college rivals that are pretty close to each other. UNC and Duke come to mind, but the Tar Heels aren’t even any good this year. And that’s certainly the exception rather than the rule. In high school, it’s not at all unusual to see big rivals from the same county – or even the same street. This means the players probably grew up close by, maybe playing pickup games together throughout childhood. And when players have that sort of history, the rivalries get amped up.

6. Transfer and play

There’s been plenty of criticism of the NCAA’s transfer rules, and we’ll just hop right on board with those. So, coaches can leave and go immediately wherever they want, but players have to sit out a year if they stay on the same level? Uh-uh. Here in high school, players who make a legal move can play right away at their new school, meaning the kids are treated fairly by the people running the sport.

5. Affordable tickets

Do you know how much it costs to take your family to an NBA or major college game? Yeah, we don’t either, since we haven’t been to one in so long. But in high school, you get the same game for a fraction of the cost. Not to mention it’s a short drive to any number of gyms around town. Want some quick, affordable family entertainment? Yep, there you go. You’re welcome.

4. Four-year players

While the best players at the college level are always looking for their big NBA score, and the NBA players are waiting for their first contract to expire, high school kids actually stick around long enough to give you a chance to get to know them and root for them. Even when they transfer, they typically stay in the area, and you can still hop in the car for a quick drive to see them play.

3. Girls/boys teams on the same night

At how many NCAA schools do you see the women’s team languish while the men’s team fills up the arena? Likewise, the WNBA’s following pales in comparison to the NBA’s. But high school doubleheaders give both teams good exposure, along with giving you two games for the price of one. Whatever you think of women’s basketball, the girls want fans cheering them on too.

2. Community buy-in

For college and NBA fans, support seems far more tied to the wins and losses that are beside the teams’ records. But in high school, it’s all about the surrounding community. This is especially true in rural Georgia, where the local basketball game may be the only entertainment around on a Friday or Saturday night. The community rallies around its team, win or lose. That’s the way it should be.

1. Anybody can play

Good luck making it onto a major college team if you don’t have a scholarship, and the NBA isn’t known for plucking guys off the street. Basically, if you’re not considered one of the best players in the country or world, you’re pretty much out of luck. But in high school, anybody can try out, and anyone can make the team. If you want to play, show the coaches you can do it. Who doesn’t love that?

Now we want to know what you think. Why do you like high school basketball better than college and pro? Is there anything we missed? Are we just entirely crazy? Let us know in the comments here or on Twitter at @ajcprepsports.

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