The future looks bright for Rutherford County high school boys’ basketball.
Playing in the 16U AAU Best of the South tournament recently in Atlanta, the Rutherford Future Stars elite team walked away with the championship by going 7-0 in the tournament.
"I actually think it's a good thing," coach Dwayne Beasley said. "The talent in Rutherford County is way underrated because the perception is this is a football county. But the high school coaches here do a great job and this is an upcoming class has a lot of really good players."
Team members included Ladarius Anthony (Siegel), Jaylan Wetzel (Siegel), Vonterius Reed (Oakland), Ajaji Loving (Riverdale), Jabahri Mastin (Blackman), Jacob Beasley (Blackman), Martise Jackson (Siegel), Kareem Sharif (Rockvale) and Elijah Buckner (Siegel).
The team was coached and formed by Beasley, former Baltimore Raven Lamar Divens and Mike Bailey, who was Allen Iverson's head coach in high school.
The Rutherford Future Stars' average margin of victory was 18 points and was against a field that included teams from Florida, Michigan, Kentucky, South Carolina and other states.
"The kids got a lot of exposure," Beasley said. "I think the closest game we had was a team from Spartanburg (South Carolina.) We played against some very talented teams.
"These kids have played with or against each other in elementary school and middle school. It was easy to coach them because they're all friends. It was easy just to throw a play or two in and let them be athletic and be themselves."
The Rutherford Future Stars finished the AAU season by winning three championships, three runner-up finishes and one semifinal appearance in seven tournaments.
While AAU and travel basketball often get a bad name, Beasley said it serves a great purpose for players who are not heavily recruited.
"I think for these kids the benefit is getting the opportunity to be seen by college coaches," he said. "They (college coaches) get to go to plethora of games. You've got your top players and coaches know who they are. I think the benefit is for the second-tier kids who will get an opportunity to find and NAIA or Division II or III school."