New name, same game

For the past decade, KC Run GMC - formerly KC Pump N Run - has carved out a reputation for itself as not only one of the most consistently successful programs on the AAU circuit, but as one which goes about its business the right way. And this season's 17-and-under squad might be its most talented yet.

It's fair to say the AAU circuit doesn't have the best of reputations in all corners of the basketball world.

At its heart, AAU basketball is ideally about the growth of young men as athletes and individuals, as they work to use their skills to earn a college scholarship. But as its popularity has grown and the attention of basketball fans has trended younger, it's become something else.

These days, it can be about YouTube mixtapes, self-promotion and games televised nationally on ESPN as much as anything else. Everyone wants to identify the next LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Dwight Howard earlier and earlier, and there are any number of interested parties out to prove their son or player is that next big thing.

It's not a situation particularly conducive to creating an unselfish or team-first environment.

This isn't always the case, of course, and it's unfair to paint an entire organization with such a broad strokes. There are still coaches and, obviously, parents who want to do things the right way, and are in it for the right reasons.

That's what L.J. Goolsby and Roger Morninstar wanted when they created Kansas City Pump N Run a decade ago.

"We wanted to create a situation where our guys could compete on a national level to maximize their exposure," Goolsby said. "But teach the game the right way, so it allowed them to be better prepared for college basketball if they got that opportunity to go on to bigger and better things."

Any recruitnik or college basketball fan who holds to a harsh view of what AAU basketball has become should spend an hour or so watching Pump N Run - now KC Run GMC - play. Or better yet, spend it watching them practice.

Because at this point it's safe to say Goolsby and Morningstar have achieved the primary goal they maintained when they founded the program. Kansas City Run GMC has carved out a niche as one of the most professional programs on the AAU circuit; one dedicated to principles of disciplined team play and fundamental basketball.

They are well-coached, unselfish and supported at all levels of the organization by a dedicated crew of volunteers - so as a program they are what AAU basketball is meant to be.

Of course, it doesn't hurt they've had a fair slice of talent as well. The Kansas City region might not be Chicago, Dallas or New York when it comes to producing elite high school talent, but it's still a fertile breeding ground for the college stars of tomorrow and a significant percentage of that talent has worn - and continues to wear - the uniform of KC Run GMC.

Travis (Kansas) and Trevor (Alabama) Releford, Brady Morningstar (Kansas), Tyrel Reed (Kansas), Marcus Denmon (Missouri), Michael Dixon (Missouri), Steve Moore (Missouri) and Oral Roberts star Dominique Morrison are just some of the players Goolsby has coached who have gone on to major college success.

The team that featured Denmon, Travis Releford and Morrison was probably their best in terms of the number of guys they put on the next level, Goolsby explained, but he told the 17-and-under squad at the beginning of this spring they had the chance to claim the throne for themselves.

The primary reason it's possible is because of their outstanding backcourt trio of Dominique Collier, Conner Frankamp and Travis Jorgenson.

Frankamp and Jorgenson are both members of the Class of 2013 and both committed to Division One programs - Frankamp to Kansas, Jorgenson to Missouri - while Collier is Class of 2014 and may be the overall most talented of the bunch.

As a unit, the three represent everything KC Run GMC basketball has come to represent. Talented individually, they make each other and their teammates better without worrying about who is taking the most shots or grabbing the most headlines.

Kansas fans are already licking their chops at the thought of Frankamp in the Crimson and Blue. He committed to the Jayhawks - his dream program - last summer and put up ridiculous numbers during his junior season at Wichita (KS) North.

A 6-foot, 175-pound point guard with a reputation as one of the deadliest shooters in the Class of 2013, lately his stock has begun to rise even higher thanks to outstanding performances in June at the prestigious Pangos All-American Camp and Under Armour Grind Session Atlanta.

Frankamp has always been a great talent, Goolsby said, but lately his confidence level has taken his game to a whole new level.

"He's really special," he explained. "He's as good as anyone we've ever had in our program, and we've had some really good ones. But he's pretty darn special and I think he's going to have a tremendous college experience when he gets to that level."

This year, KC Run GMC is off to a strong start in their first year as an Under Armour program, after ending a long run with Adidas. They won a big tournament in Minneapolis during the early part of May, and turned in a strong showing at a massive Under Armour event over Memorial Day weaken - losing in the quarterfinals to a Houston Defenders squad which features Aaron and Andrew Harrison, two top 10 prospects in the Class of 2013.

Their play has given them solid momentum heading into the all-important month of July, when coaches are once again allowed to hit the road and observe prospects in person.

They'll need more than just their Big Three in the backcourt to play to their potential, but Goolsby said this group is strong from top to bottom. In the post they feature Lee's Summit (MO) North product Tory Miller, a high-level power forward prospect who might be the most important component of their success going forward. But Roy Clayter, Larry Dennis, George Funtarov and the rest of the roster all carry their own load and then some.

The present and the future are bright for KC Run GMC, and that's something in which Goolsby and the entire support system surrounding the program can take a great deal of pride.

"You just feel good about where the program is at," he said. "What we talked about from Day One, Roger and I, is a group that could compete on a national level. That's what we've got. We want to showcase the area."

"We're very excited about our young teams because we feel they're pretty good, too," Goolsby added. "The future is bright for us, and we're going to continue to try to make it that way, where we've got up and coming programs."


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