Each year, a different team is crowned champion of the AAU 19U Nationals boys basketball tournament. Traditionally, that team is made up of top basketball prospects who are either 18 or 19 years of age. Occasionally a 17-year-old slips in for consideration. Anyone younger than that practically need not apply.
Incredibly, that wasn't the case for the 2011 champions, Maine's 19U MB Nation squad, which featured a 5-year-old on its official roster.
Yes, you read that last line correctly: One of the official players on the MB Nation national champion squad is a 5-year-old from Maine. That elementary school pipsqueak happens to be named Reese Woodbury. Despite having never stepped foot in an elementary school, Woodbury was one of the MB Nation members cutting down the nets in Orlando when the AAU Nationals wrapped up.
As you might expect, Woodbury has a familial connection to the MB Nation program: His father, Mike "Woody" Woodbury is the MB Nation head coach. Yet, while the younger Woodbury never officially entered the AAU championship game, he did play in the squad's previous games, including a 77-38 blowout victory it authored in the tournament quarterfinals. You can see video of his appearance in that game directly below, a cameo which included a jump shot in the lane that nearly earned him a spot on the final box score.
While college-bound 19-year-olds might be a step too far, the younger Woodbury is emerging as a bit of a phenom nonetheless. The 5-year-old already starts on the MB Nation program's third- and fourth-grade team, which is the youngest classification at the basketball facility. Woodbury doesn't just play against third- and fourth-graders, either; he helps run his team's offense.
As you can see in the ScoutsFocus video above, Woodbury has the raw skills to back up his significantly elevated level of competition.
"This is the first national championship I've won with my Dad's group, but I've won championships with my third- and fourth-grade team, too," Reese Woodbury told ScoutsFocus. "It feels really cool."
The younger Woodberry told ScoutsFocus that he got the idea to cut down the nets from watching "SportsCenter" with his father, but he hopes to eventually land on that program himself one day. Reese Woodbury claims that he dreams of one day being a point guard for Duke, and possibly even the Boston Celtics.
The elder Woodbury thinks his son can get there based on the stunningly strong instincts for the game he has already shown.
"At [the third- and fourth-grade level], I wouldn't say he's a star yet, but he gets five more years to play third- and fourth-grade basketball," Mike Woodbury told ScoutsFocus. "He's already ahead of his peers by far in his age group. But in the third- and fourth-grade level I would say he's probably a top-20 kid in Maine at that age level already. He's pretty special.
"He actually runs the skills and drills part of the third- and fourth-grade practice, and he leads all the drills and stationary stuff. He can put you through all the practice areas. … He actually has led practices and understands what's going on and the kids actually listen to him. It's pretty impressive."
Now the younger Woodbury's resume is pretty impressive, thanks to a U19 championship that he'll always officially be a part of, even if he didn't see the court in the team's final tournament game.