While this is considered “post-season” for Hoopfest and our Spokane AAU league, for one of our other programs, “conference play” is about to start!
In honor of Dan Fitzgerald, one of the nation’s premier teachers of the game and the foundation of the Gonzaga University men’s basketball program, the Fitz Signature High School Boys Clinic seeks to elevate the performance and playing experience for current and future high school players (grades 8-11). Those who attended this year’s Fitz Clinic were eligible for selection to the Eastern Washington Elite (EWE) traveling basketball program, which is a Hoopfest-operated program.
Considered one of the region’s premier AAU basketball clubs for high school-aged boys in Washington, Idaho and Oregon, EWE teams travel the country to battle great competition in front of college recruiters.
Jamie Nilles, the U17 Assistant Coach and Player Personnel Director for EWE believes that the best way for young hoopers in the area to hone their skills against some of the best players in the country is through EWE.
“Our coaches are dedicated to helping local players develop their skill set,” Nilles says. “We want to help them understand how to play the game the right way against top talent around the country, while connecting them to potential college playing opportunities.”
Nilles began with EWE 18 years ago as a way to provide his athletes at West Valley another avenue to grow their game.
“When I was coaching high school basketball, I wanted to give my high school players and other local players more opportunities to experience the highest level of competition,” he says.
But for Nilles, it isn’t just the success on the court for EWE he loves to witness, but the continued growth beyond the program that makes it special.
“Over the years I have really cherished the relationship with the players and watching them continue to succeed with their own high school teams and then after high school into their college playing career,” Nilles says.
Brock Ravett Jr., a current player for Kittitas High School, has played for other AAU clubs in the past. This season, Ravett Jr. decided to tryout for an EWE team during the Fitz Signature High School Boys Clinic. Out of over 100 athletes attended the clinic; Ravett Jr. impressed the coaches and was selected to be a member of EWE Red (U17).
“Being a part of Eastern Washington Elite will give me the chance to play at the highest level with high quality players, and against some of the best teams,” Ravett Jr. said. “This will help me become stronger individually and as a teammate.”
Teammate Shamrock Campbell Sr., a current player for Ferris High School and EWE Red (U17), gave a similar response when asked why he believes switching clubs to tryout for EWE was a good move for his basketball career.
“The coaches are very experienced and have a lot of knowledge to share,” Campbell Sr. says. “In every tournament, we get to play against the best competition in front of college coaches. Since the program has been around for a long time, they have a lot of connections with colleges. I think playing for Eastern Washington Elite will help me greatly in achieving my goal of playing college basketball.”
Since the inaugural clinic in 1998, the EWE program has produced 47 Division I athletes, as well as an impressive amount who landed in Division II, III, NAIA and the community college levels.
The first tournament of the summer season for EWE is the NW Premier Summer Showcase in Bellevue, Washington.
After that, the teams will head to Anaheim, California for the Double Pump Best of the Summer tournament before their last tournament, the Bigfoot Las Vegas Classic in Las Vegas. All three tournaments are NCAA sanctioned events which means college coaches from around the country will be in attendance to watch these young hoopers display their skills.
Help us wish our seven Eastern Washington Elite Teams luck and safe travels as they prepare to compete against the best for a chance to play at the collegiate level! Interested in playing for EWE? Learn more about this Hoopfest program and the Fitz Signature High School Boys Clinic.