who we are
Welcome to the Pistons Academy of Youth Basketball. Founded in 2012, the Pistons Academy is designed to deliver the most organized and fun-filled basketball programs in the state. Our staff of experienced and passionate coaches are dedicated to the development of every player in our system. Last year, 7500 young basketball players participated in our programs. From the Kindergarten stars of tomorrow to the Pistons Elite AAU players of today, kids can have a basketball home for years to come! For more information on the Pistons Academy, please contact any of the coaches below! Thanks and we hope to see you on the court real soon!
Director of Fan Development – Detroit Pistons
Office: (313) 771-7531
Geo Thomas leads the Pistons Academy team and has been directing youth basketball programs since 1987. His career path started at Central Michigan University where he coached at the CMU summer sports camps. Since his graduation from CMU, Geo has been a youth instructor for The YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit (1991-95), the Sports Director at Franklin Athletic Club (1995-02) and Founder/CEO of AlphaWolf Basketball (2002-12). Since joining the Pistons in 2012, Geo has directed 35 different basketball programs with over 37,500 kids participating. When asked about his goals for Pistons Academy, Geo states: “My objective is to create an organized and positive basketball environment that is both challenging and fun for all involved!” In addition to being a certified basketball referee, he has coached in over 1700 high school, AAU and rec league games.
Director of Youth Engagement & Development – Detroit Pistons
Office: (313) 771-7436
“Coach” Aaron Smith is a 19 year veteran with the Detroit Pistons Organization. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he is currently the Director of youth engagement and development which includes directing the Pistons Academy’s summer basketball camps. Aaron also travels the state of Michigan as a youth motivational speaker for the Detroit Pistons school assembly program. His positive message and personal story have positively impacted thousands of young athletes. In addition, Aaron has over 15 years of high school basketball coaching experience and is currently the varsity boys coach at Royal Oak High School.
Coordinator of Fan Development/Pistons Academy – Detroit Pistons
Office: (313) 771-7471
“Coach” Bryan enters his fourth full season with the Pistons, bringing with him an extensive amount of playing, coaching, and youth basketball programming experience. Bryan earned all-state honors at Brighton High School and spent his summers playing for Nike’s “The Family,” a premier youth basketball organization in Detroit, before competing on the collegiate level at Grand Valley State University. Following his playing career, Bryan has spent multiple years directing youth basketball camps, clinics, and leagues in the Metro Detroit area. He is also one of the area’s top youth basketball skills instructors. Coach Bryan hopes to provide youth basketball opportunities through the Pistons Academy that “Inspire and challenge the leaders of tomorrow, while helping our young athletes develop a versatile skill set that will benefit them both on and off the basketball court.”
Coordinator of Communications & Events for Fan Development
Morgan is our newest team member but is no stranger to the sporting world. During her time at Central Michigan University (2014) she worked with the CMU Softball team, handling all of their operational needs including camps & clinics for 3 years. In addition, Morgan brings two seasons of experience with the Chicago Sky of the WNBA and has worked with the Pistons Community Relations Department. Morgan handles all of our administrative needs including program promotion and registration, social media, event operations and providing parent communication for all Pistons Academy events.
The Pistons Academy Mini Hoopers youth basketball league is designed to introduce young athletes to the sport in a fun and energetic team setting. Players learn the rules of the game, the fundamental skills necessary to play, and how to be a valuable member of their team. This introductory league utilizes age-appropriate rules and equipment to maximize skill development, while also teaching young players how to perform in a team setting. Each six week season features five weeks of practices and scrimmages and concludes with the famous “Big Game”. Each player receives a Pistons Academy jersey, season-ending award, and an opportunity to meet Hooper, the official mascot of the Detroit Pistons.
The Pistons Rookie Clinics are the next step in the Pistons Academy development process. These Rookie Clinics are offered either as an eight week session or 1-day events. Instructors will tailor the clinic based on the needs of the participants. Drills become more dynamic and coaches encourage hard work, effort and enthusiasm. Rookie Clinic players will receive a Pistons Academy jersey, as well as a skills evaluation card at the end of the clinic outlining their strengths and give tips for areas they need to work on. Although this is a skill development program, instructors will always bring an element of fun.
PISTONS ACADEMY PREMIER LEAGUES
Competitive and Recreational Leagues for grades 2-9
Skill Level: Some prior basketball experience is reccomended
Locations: Birmingham, Brighton, Royal Oak and Southfield
More information: 313-771-7699
The Pistons Academy offers competitive and instructional leagues for boys and girls in grades 2-9. Players register as individuals and are evaluated before the season at our Jr. NBA Skills Combine. Players are then drafted onto teams and play a 7-week regular season. All teams make playoffs and final four teams in each division receive season-ending awards. Coaches are qualified volunteers and Pistons Academy staff.
Competitive and Instructional Leagues for girls in grades 4-8
Skill Level: All skill levels welcome
Locations: Birmingham and Brighton
More information: 313-771-7699
The All-Girls League offers two amazing development programs. “Friday Night Lights” is a Friday instructional league for girls in grades 4-6. Players register as individuals and are placed on teams. Girls spend the first three weeks learning skills, strategy and the rules of the game. Games are played next five weeks concluding with playoffs and championships. The Lady Pistons Leagues are for girls in grades 6-8 who are looking to learn and refine their game skills in a competitive environment. Players register as individuals and are placed onto teams via a draft. Games are played Fridays and Saturdays.
PISTONS ELITE TRAVEL BASKETBALL
Skill Level: Advanced skills required
Teams: Vary year to year based on qualified coaches. Currently Grades 5-11
Locations: Most practices in Southfield
More information: 313-771-7699
Pistons Elite Travel Basketball is designed for highly skilled players who want to compete with and against the best players in the state and Midwest. Teams are formed through a tryout basis and players pay a team fee that is established by the coach. Players will practice 1-3 times per week and travel to local tournaments. Qualifying teams may participate in National events in Indiana or Illinois. Uniforms are provided in the team fee and are returned at the end of the season. Primary seasons are January-March and May-July.
LEADERSHIP TRAINING PROGRAM: Grades 8, 9, 10
The Pistons Academy Leadership Training Program is a great way to for students (grades 8-10) to get trained in the on-court programming aspects of basketball. Those accepted into the program will be trained in officiating, coaching, instructing, public speaking and first-response protocols. Then, they will be trained on-court at our summer basketball camps. Students must train a minimum of three weeks and a maximum of six. The top performers will be offered jobs within the Detroit Pistons such as reffing/coaching in our youth leagues, scorekeeping, clinic instruction and other special events in the community and at Little Caesars Arena. Leadership Training Fee is $350. There will be an informational meeting at the Franklin Athletic Club in Southfield on Sunday, January 19 from 7:15-8pm. RSVP is required. For questions or to RSVP, please e-mail Geo Thomas at email@example.com.