Hoop News ran a poll last week asking our readers who had the best AAU Program in New England and the run-away winner was the Middlesex Magic. AAU basketball gets a bad rap at times, but programs like the Magic represent everything that is right with youth basketball. The Magic are not sponsored by a shoe company, but year in and year out they compete on the highest level, have players go onto college careers and produce young men who are an asset to their communities.
Middlesex Magic was started in 1993 by former US Marine Michael Crotty, Sr and have been going strong ever since. The program was started on Mr. Crotty's simple philosophy of "have fun, compete and get better." With those core values, the Magic have grown to become one of the most respected programs in the country. Our polls results confirmed that; as the Magic received an amazing 45% of the 707 votes received.
"My dad coached me when I was a kid and after the season he decided he wanted to have his own program," Mike Jr. said. "He had a passion for the game and for helping kids and teaching them."
Mr. Crotty passed away in February of 2010 unexpectedly and his son Mike Jr. took the reins and continued his fathers legacy of having fun, competing and getting better. Mike was a tremendous player at Williams, earning All American honors in 2004 and led Williams to the 2003 National Championship. After his successful college career Mike played overseas for a year before joining the Boston Celtics in a player development role and was a part of the 2008 World Championship. Mike left the Celtics to join the private sector and began helping his dad. When his father passed, Mike assumed the reins of the Magic program and continued his fathers legacy.
"We still base everything off of my dad's words; 'Have fun, compete and get better'. We stress that in our younger age groups. You start playing this game as a kid because it's fun. You put a ball through a hoop," Mike explained. "With the high school age kids, we add to those core principles and focus on goal setting, handling adversity and teaching life lessons. "
Today, the Magic have boys teams starting with 3rd graders all the way up to 12th graders. In addition to that, they have added 5-girls teams and this season have expanded into Rhode Island and will have 8-teams competing in age groups from 6th grade up through 11th grade as Middlesex Magic-RI.
"There is so much pressure on kids these days with rankings of players in 5th and 6th grade, we just want the young guys to focus on getting better, improving and having fun," he said. "My dad had girls teams a few times and now we have 5-teams and will continue to grow that. We had also added the teams in Rhode Island and just finished tryouts the last couple weekends and it has been very well received. We try to do things the right way."
The respect the Magic program receives is well earned. Their junior team won the 2010 and 2011 New England Super Regional, as well as the Massachusetts Division 1 state championship in 2012 and 2013. These wins, along with numerous tournament championships and strong performances against all of the regions "sponsored teams" have made the Magic an opponent that no one wants to see on their pool when schedules are announced.
"We have had success against every team listed in the poll at one time or another," Mike proudly states. "We play team basketball and I've had college coaches tell me they enjoyed watching us play because of how we play."
The alumni of the Magic is as strong a group as any program can claim. Pat Connaughton (Notre Dame), Joe Pagliuca (Duke), Jermaine Anderson (UNH), Kevin Bettencourt (Bucknell), Matt Pressy (Missouri), Bobby Kelly (Northeastern), Corey Lowe (Boston University), Anthony Franzino, Ross DiLegro (Syracuse), Mike Hornnbuckle (Pepperdine), Matt Edgerly, Michael Christensen (Harvard), Greg Pauls (Airforce), Bobby Bilicki (ODU) and Pat Ackerman (Penn State/Detroit) are just some of the D1 players who have played for the Magic; while a quick look at the top D2 and D3 programs and their rosters show numerous players who have worn the blue and white of the Middlesex Magic. A list of their alumni can be found here http://www.middlesexmagic.com/pages/magicalumni
"We've sent over 300 players to college to play basketball at one level or another," Mike tell us. "Plus 100 or so others who didn't play college ball, but still competed on the highest level against the best teams in AAU. It's all about getting an education and giving yourself a better life."
This season the Magic will once again be a force to be reckoned with. Their junior team has the likes of Phil Leotsakos, Jackson Donahue, Colin McManus, Corey Daugherty, Trevor Dow and Rohan Shukla. Their sophomore team looks strong as well, with Matt Kerans, Harry O'Neil, Brendan Hoban, Mat Catizone, Matt DeWolf, Matt Donohue, Nick Tupanjanin and James Mortimer.
"We have Division 1 coaches calling about some of our juniors already," Mike says. "It's all about developing your skills, learning the team concept, goal setting and busting your butt to use basketball to give yourself a better life."
The principles the Magic program is founded on are what every AAU team aspires to have; "have fun, compete and get better." We recommend everyone take a look at this video that sums up what their program is all about. The words of the late, great Mr. Crotty should be motivation to all youth coaches. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbvzPu031W4
For more information on the Magic program you can visit their site http://www.middlesexmagic.com/
Spring 2020 COVID-19 Update
2017 BasketBull Hoops Fest - Session II - Top Players
BasketBull HoopsFest - Session I All -Tourney Team