When David Baskin was 12 years old, his Amateur Athletic Union basketball coach told him six words that would ultimately change his life:
“You’re not going to the league [the NBA],” he said.
Then, his coach followed up with an even greater revelation: he thought Baskin would make an excellent coach, and could have a more significant impact from the sideline.
Ten years later, Baskin and his former AAU coach, James Parker, Jr., work together in the Premier Youth Basketball League (PYBL), a middle school basketball league based in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area.
As a 2013 graduate of Hampton University with a B.A. in Sport Management, Baskin—known as Coach Dave among his players—said his calling was behind the scenes of the game.
“It’s just giving back. Coach Parker started coaching me when he was 21,” Baskin said. “When I realized that, I thought, ‘This guy could’ve been doing anything, going to the club, hanging on the streets, but he’s taking time while he’s in college to teach young men the game of basketball, and life lessons as well.’ I look up to him as an older brother, so if he can do it, I think I can too.”
Baskin also felt that if he can coach, so could so many other young men in the area. He recruited two of his younger athletic colleagues, Trevon Barnes and Deiron Driggers, to join his coaching staff.
“Dave was one of my friends before I started coaching, so he brought me along,” said Barnes, who met Baskin at a pickup basketball game. “It’s a real nice vibe. We mainly just want our players to have fun, but also compete, because we're all trying to get to a next level.”
Baskin started as an AAU assistant coach for the Maryland Runnin’ Rebels and Maryland Jaguars before joining the PYBL as head coach for the Southern Maryland Cardinals in 2013. He also sits on the board of directors as social media engagement director.
Founded by Parker in September, the PYBL works to give local, high-level athletes an advantage on high school recruiting by playing against the best talent in the area. The league began as an opportunity for players to compete locally in the winter months, and after receiving positive feedback, soon expanded to a summer league as well.
“A lot of these kids want to go to top schools in the area but don’t have money to get there. So with our league, we give them an outlet to be able to be seen by these schools, and hopefully earn scholarships for them,” said Parker, who also serves as president of the league.
“With PYBL, we wanted to bring out the best talent in the area,” said Baskin. “If the local schools don’t know about you but other people know about you, that’s cool but how can you continue to grow here? I feel like you have to start at home first, and then work your way out.”
For Baskin, the best part of being a coach isn’t the competition or winning tournaments; it’s the opportunity to teach and mentor young men who are in the same position he was in 10 years ago.
“Winning and losing comes with the job, but getting the kids to learn something, possibly getting them to next level,” he said. “When I have coaches come up to me and ask about my kids, that’s a reward enough to me because it’s like I played a small role to getting them where they want to be.”