But things have changed since Streets and his childhood buddy, Carlton DeBose, started the program four years ago. These former no-names are coming off a title at the under-16 nationals last summer.
Balance is the key to their success. Hillcrest High's 6-3, 185-pound wing Jerel McNeal is the biggest name of the group, but there will be plenty of games this summer when he won't even be among the team's top three leading scorers.
The Meanstreets aren't big. In fact, they only have two guys in their rotation that check in at 6-foot-5 or taller – sophomore Joevan Catron (6-6, 225) of Thornton High and his high school teammate, athletic 6-5 junior forward Donnell Lyons.
``We look small when we get on the court, but once we get between the lines, they're like animals," Streets said. "They turn it up and refuse to lose."
``They just play so well together," added Streets. "They know what to expect every time they step on the court and realize they have to play hard to win."
Nearly all of the players have been together for the last three years, but Streets did bring in one key addition for this year: Julian High 6-1 combo guard Brandon Ewing.
The team also features guys like 6-1 juniors Brandon Long, Brandon Dagans and Mike Robinson – as well as cat-quick 5-8 point guard Maurice Acker.
``We're not the biggest team, so we have to use our speed," McNeal said. "We just play together so well and a lot of teams don't realize how good we are until its too late."
Meanstreets (Chicago, Ill.)
Coaches: Tai Streets, Carlton DeBose
Top Prospect: WG Jerel McNeal (6-2 ½, 185, JR)
Projected Starters: G Brandon Ewing (6-1, 170, JR); WG Brandon Long (6-1, JR); BF Joevan Catron (6-6, 225, SOPH); BF Donnell Lyons (6-5, JR)
Others: G Mike Robinson (6-1, JR); PG Maurice Acker (5-8, JR); G Brandon Dagans (6-1, JR)
Opening Tourney: Las Vegas Spring Showcase (Las Vegas) – April 16-18
Famous Alum: N/A