Re: AAU Basketball
AAU has a lot of levels. If a player is just looking for playing time, it's just a matter of finding a local team, going through the tryouts, playing in tourneys. Some teams play all their games close to home while others play a national schedule.
Some teams are sponsored - either by local businesses or big shoe companies.
The one thing is that a lot of parents have the idea that playing AAU will get their child a college scholarship. That's only true if they are playing on an AAU team that is of high school age and plays a national schedule during the NCAA 'live' period.
Also, college coaches and scouts value high school games more than AAU simply because AAU is far less structured. They will watch a lot of AAU because there are so many games in one place, but the level of play/coaching in general is considered far lower.
Another thing is AAU teams for young kids - parents think that a 4th grade national champion or 7th grade national champion means something, but only for fun - no serious scout will evaluate middle school or elementary school kids. Those 'national titles' are pretty much meaningless everywhere except for the players involved.
The biggest teams are sponsored by Nike, Adidas or Under Armour and they play a national schedule. The most structured is the Nike EYBL which takes place in July and plays a whole season over four cities, culminating in the Peach Jam in North Augusta, SC. The players on the teams that win at the Peach Jame are loaded with high level collegiate talent.