By Jonathan Hawthorne | Aug 10, 2017
Special to espnW
It didn’t take long for Texas women’s basketball recruit Joanne Allen-Taylor to realize her AAU team wasn’t quite like the rest. After linking up with Texas-based AD Elite two seasons ago, Allen-Taylor made such strides on the court that college coaches started turning up in the stands to watch her play. From afar, NFL running back Adrian Peterson started doing the same.
But Peterson wasn’t recruiting the athletic 5-foot-8 combo guard. Allen-Taylor, after all, was already playing for his team.
“One, two, three — work hard!” Allen-Taylor and her teammates shout at the start of each game. “Four, five, six — all day!”
It’s a subtle nod to the 32-year-old New Orleans Saints running back’s “All Day” nickname. Each year since 2013, Peterson has supported the team financially on the costly AAU circuit.
“I think it speaks for itself, how he wants to reach a different sport,” said Allen-Taylor, a three-star prospect in the 2018 class out of Cypress Falls (Houston). “That’s very brave. That’s very different. And definitely cool.”
It’s practical, too. Steve Barber, who has been at the helm of AD Elite for the past five years, estimates a season of AAU basketball generally runs between $3,500 and $5,000. Each player on his team –considered one of the top travel squads in the country — is responsible for $650 of that each summer.
“A lot of the kids, they just can’t afford it,” Barber said. “It’s a lot of help for the families who can’t afford it…The things we teach them are life skills, not just a basketball game.”
Though he’s more football-focused by trade, Peterson’s interest in AAU basketball took root during childhood when he traveled with his father Nelson — a basketball coach — to cities across the country. Now, Peterson wants to share the…