Coach Dajuan Bibb was sitting at Jefferson County Traditional Middle School’s eighth grade graduation when he heard the principal start reading off all the accolades of an accomplished student.
“They started reading off the accolades for the student without saying the name,” he says. “She was number one in every category; number one in science, number one in French, number one in math and number one in social studies. I am still not thinking anything of it, and then the principal says one of my players: Alana Striverson. I was moved to tears from the standpoint that this girl never complains. She is in the gym and she walks hard, and she puts in extra work. She is an eighth grader playing high school basketball and she is number one in her class academically.”
It was in this moment that Bibb realized it was bigger than basketball. Kentucky Premier has had a vision within the AAU circuit to promote, incorporate and instill Christian values, assist players in improving their game and sign college scholarships, and the program makes it a priority and prides itself on enabling players to make an instant impact at the high school and college level spiritually, academically and athletically.
In recent years, Bibb has successfully executed this vision into his own branch called KY Premier B-Elite. The program has expanded to 13 teams and over 175 girls, and has a new facility that they can call a “temporary” home at Mid-America East (2401 Stanley Gault Pkwy.).
“Right now, as happy as we are being at a new location and practice facility, it is only temporary because of where we are going and how we are planning. What we have in the works, it is going to be huge,” attests Bibb, who is the Louisville area director for the program.
As his vision continues to expand, he sees the program growing to where they will be able to pick up kids from school and transport them to the workout facility to complete homework and to train.
This upcoming school year will be the first year B-Elite goes year-round. It’s an addition that keeps the girls active and prepares them for the school basketball season. And once the season kicks off, the program will shift from the weekday to the weekend, allowing players to still perfect their craft in the gym.
But aside from the recent developments and expansions, player development off the court has been the key ingredient to KY Premier B-Elite living up to its motto: It’s Bigger than Basketball.
“Confidence,” Bibb says is the No. 1 area he has focused on. After seeing a high number of girls come into the program and walk into the gym, he sensed they were uncertain about basketball, uncertain about the environment and uncertain about themselves.
“We really instill in these girls confidence off the court,” he adds. “In today’s society, everything is about image. A lot of these girls’ image is stuff that they see and if they don’t feel like they look a certain way or act a certain way, they don’t have that confidence. And I want to dispel that myth. I want them to be confident in who they are.”
As a byproduct to the program’s success, Erin Toller – soon to be 10th-grader at Sacred Heart – has participated in KY Premier for a few years now and recently traveled to Colorado Springs to try out for the Team USA U16 team. She’s an example of the program bringing the best out of its players.
“One thing that was special is that since I was the only player from Kentucky to go, that was really big,” says Toller. “When I got down there, I got settled in and got my nerves out. Just to be down there on a big training center was really huge, and now my name is forever going to be down there as a participant. And I think that is really big.
“Coach Bibb has helped me as a mentor, and I would say I have met a lot of my closest friends through KY Premier B-Elite. KY Premier is a program that always pushes you to do your best.”
It’s a program centered on having a family feel that even brings comfort to the parents. Latonya Bell, mother of B-Elite player Sasha Thomas, admits she can be “overprotective” at times, but expresses, “Coach Bibb has presented himself with this program, not just as an organization, but more like a family. So if there is anything on or off the court that Sasha needed, I feel like I could call and he could make it happen.”
“That is exactly what we want to accomplish in our program,” Bibb echoes. “Having a family that you can talk to about things unrelated to basketball. If a girl isn’t playing hard, nine times out of 10 it has nothing to do with basketball – it is something going on somewhere else in another part of her life. So for me, I emphasize that when I have coaches meetings; I tell the staff that if you’re only coaching basketball, you’re doing something wrong.”
To be elite, it must be bigger than basketball.
For more information, visit their website at belitebasketball.com. VT