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2003 Atlanta Celtics, the Greatest AAU Team Ever Assembled
AAU basketball first began crowning a national champion in 1935, and some outstanding teams have captured the title. One of the earliest standout squads was the Phillips 66ers. From 1940 to 1950, the Bartlesville, Oklahoma-based club won eight championships, including six in a row, and finished as runners-up twice. Those early teams were certainly excellent squads, but there is no doubt that modern-era teams are far superior in terms of athleticism and the level of competition they face. Three AAU squads from the 2000′s must be considered to be among the best, if not the very best of all-time.The SoCal All-Stars of the mid-2000′s featured such standouts as Brandon Jennings, Kevin Love, Chase Budinger, Renardo Sidney, Daniel Hackett and Malik Story. Jennings and Love are current NBA stars, with Love leading the league in rebounding as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Another outstanding collection of talent in recent years was the Spiece Indy Heat. This Indianapolis-based squad’s roster included future Ohio State teammates Greg Oden, Daequan Cook and Mike Conley, as well as eventual Indiana Hoosier Eric Gordon and Duke’s Josh McRoberts. All five are currently playing in the NBA.Saving the best for last, the 2003 Atlanta Celtics are, arguably, the greatest AAU team ever assembled. This Georgia squad won the AAU championship behind Dwight Howard, Josh Smith and Randolph Morris. And coming off the bench was Javaris Crittendon. Howard, of course, is the NBA’s version of Superman with the Orlando Magic. Howard was the 1 selection in the 2004 NBA Draft, and became the youngest player in league history to average a double-double. Now a seasoned veteran, Howard broke the legendary Wilt Chamberlain’s record by leading the NBA in total rebounds for five consecutive seasons. Howard was on the gold-winning 2008 Beijing men’s Olympic squad. Josh Smith won the Slam Dunk contest at the 2005 All-Star game and became the youngest player to reach both 500 and 1,000 career blocked shots.
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