CULLMAN — Cullman High’s varsity boys basketball team has been well represented at the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) level this summer.
Rising sophomore Lawson Schaffer is playing for the Birmingham Ice, and rising freshman Seth Swalve, who started on the Southeast Elite, will finish the summer on the Alabama Storm.
For Swalve, the move is a promotion, rising from a 15-and-under team to a 17-and-under squad.
“The coach of the Storm also has a 16-year-old team, and I got to play with them one weekend," Swalve said. "he thought I did well enough, so he said I could play with the older team."
While he stands at 5-foot-9, the two tallest players on the Storm are 6-foot-10 and 6-foot-9. Schaffer, 5-foot-10, also mentioned a height difference with his teammates.
“I need to get a lot stronger with everything I do because I’m playing with a lot bigger guys than me,” Schaffer said. “Some of the guys can be 6-foot-1, so they’re athletes for sure. I’m probably one of the shortest guys on the team.”
Hanceville's Brontae Harris, an honorable mention on the Alabama Sports Writers Association's All-State Team as a freshman, is also on Schaffer's AAU basketball team.
The AAU season began in April and continued through May before breaking for school camps in June. Teams will pick back up in July for the summer's last few tournaments.
Switching gears from AAU basketball to Bearcat basketball has presented its fair share of differences for both players.
“When I went from AAU back to Cullman, I had to settle down,” Schaffer said. “In AAU, you’re one-on-one with your man, and in Cullman, you’ve got to use your teammates to help you beat someone. It’s a lot different from varsity going to AAU.”
Cullman basketball coach Bobby Meyer said he hopes both players can improve on defense this summer.
“As young players, our defensive system is one thing they have to pick up quickly,” he said. “We’re big on the defensive side. They have the offensive tools, but when you’re playing with a team that has a defensive scheme, you have to understand what everyone else is doing and what you can do for them on the defensive end. So, it’s playing team-style defense.”
Schaffer was called up to the Bearcats' varsity squad in the middle of his freshman season, providing Cullman with a legitimate scoring threat at shooting guard.
“What Lawson did was provide us depth at the 2-guard position,” Meyer said. “He was able to provide scoring for us down the stretch. It was a nice addition to our team, which was already a good team.”
Swalve’s natural role is at point guard. Meyers said next season’s three guard positions are currently up for grabs, so there's a chance Swalve could grab one of those starting spots.
“We’ve got some players that are returning and have some experience but not a lot of starting experience, so we hope Seth is going to provide us with depth and utilize his talents, even though he’s young, to help us be successful,” he said.
Once AAU starts back up, Schaffer and Swalve will both head to Georgia for a high-profile tournament many college coaches are expected to attend.
“The college coaches come and scout us and rate us and begin to notice us,” he said. “That’s when most of your recruiting starts.”
Meyer said he’s been pleased to see his players gain valuable experience during the offseason.
“When you play against high-level competition, it pushes you to get better,” he said. “So I hope they continue to play at this high level of AAU ball and continue to get experience from top-notch players around the state and around the southeast.
“To make the team is very impressive but also to be on the team and excel is another. They’ve done both. They’re playing well. They’re on these teams, and they’re really productive players on these teams.”
‰ Laura Owens can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.