Kentucky Premier Ascending as Elite AAU Program

Kristen Clemons, JaKayla Thompson, Erin Toller, Grace Berger and Iliyah Green are all members of Kentucky Premier trained by Coach Bibb.

Kristen Clemons, JaKayla Thompson, Erin Toller, Grace Berger and Iliyah Green are all members of Kentucky Premier trained by Coach Bibb.

The Amateur Athletic Union, better known as the AAU, is a non-profit organization that helps to promote and develop young athletes in their quest toward collegiate and professional competition. In the AAU, boys basketball undeniably receives the most attention; however, its female counterpart has proved just as deserving.

In Kentucky, there is an AAU basketball program that has developed over the past six years to showcase girls who truly excel in the sport. This program, formally known as Kentucky Premier, features a plethora of girls ranging from second to 12th grade who have the talent, commitment and dedication to achieve their basketball dreams.

Kentucky Premier’s ultimate vision is to build the strongest and most effective AAU basketball program in the state and nation by instilling Christian values in its players, helping girls improve their game and striving to make an impact at the high school and college level spiritually, academically and athletically.

Director and founder of the program, David Tapley, says, “We saw a need to help kids.” Since then, notable players who have come out of Kentucky Premier’s program have been former McDonald’s All-American and Miss Kentucky Basketball winners Sara Hammond and Makayla Epps.

Tapley says, “The truth is, when we started this, we said we were going to do this based off the Bible. The good Lord has blessed us. That’s what really happened here. Based on all those biblical principles, we treated everybody the same. We treated coaches the same. We made no difference in kids, and we continue that.”

Kentucky Premier has gained the support from parents all over Kentucky who are eyewitnesses to the sincerity and investment made in the lives of these young ladies.

The girls program is one of 32 AAU programs to be sponsored by Nike, which speaks volumes about the program to those around the nation. Kentucky Premier, a program that consists of about 15 teams, gets to compete in some of the most elite tournaments in the nation. Players play before nearly 500 Division I coaches from some of the top basketball programs in the country.

DaJuan Bibb – who coaches the eighth and ninth grade team in Louisville and who also is the trainer for all divisions within Kentucky Premier – said resources are a key component to the program’s success.

“Mr. Tapley has a plethora of resources. I have been in lunch with him and have seen his phone ring, college coach after college coach asking about girls in the program. You can’t find that anywhere else. That is the number one thing that sticks out to me.”

Over the last six years, the program and its players have received widespread acclaim. Coach Bibb sums it up like this: “That’s what this is all about. We are trying to prepare girls for the next level. The next level for us is college. We are not worried about high school, but we prepare for high school in middle school. In high school, we prepare for college.”

For Kentucky Premier, basketball and college is not the end-all be-all. The program also focuses on other aspects of life such as character development and life skills. Mr. Tapley says, “We are teaching lives from day one. Basketball is always the tool for life. What we have tried to do is build a culture inside a program. It is all about hard work, honesty and all those things.”

To Tapley, this method has proved successful. He says people in this business want to see that you are sincere and trying to help kids.

“The one thing that really has sparked this is when parents are in this. When people see that you’re genuine and that you’re really trying to help someone else, it is easy to see. As long as we have been doing it now, I would bet you we have only had about three or four kids that have ever left our program. Usually when people come, they finish with us.”

Moving forward, the program is looking to implement some boys teams to create the same exposure for both sexes. VT

For more information and to get involved with Kentucky Premier, you can contact Mr. David Tapley at 606.307.9454. For basketball training in any division for Kentucky Premier, you can contact DaJuan Bibb at 502.712.3145.