This study investigated the roles of growth, maturation, physical fitness, and technical skills on selection onto an under-14 years basketball team. The sample consisted of 150 male players, aged 13.3 ± 0.7 years, divided into selected (SE—top players chosen by coaching staff to form an elite regional team) and non-selected (NSE—remaining players) groups. Anthropometry, body composition, biological maturation, and training experience data were collected using standard procedures. Physical fitness was assessed using the Yo-Yo IE2, sit-ups, handgrip, squat jump, countermovement jump, 3 kg medicine ball throw, 20 m sprint, and T-Test. Technical skills were acquired using the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD)’s basketball-specific test battery. Groups were compared using a Student’s t
test and multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA), with training experience and biological maturation as covariates. A forward stepwise discriminant function analysis was employed to identify variables that maximized the separation between groups. The results showed that SE players were taller, had greater fat-free mass, greater strength, power, and agility, and were technically more skillful compared with NSE players (p < 0.05) when controlling for training experience and maturation. It was also found that players were best discriminated by the 3 kg medicine ball throw and control dribble, revealing the importance of qualified training to achieve excellence in youth basketball. 92.7% of the basketballers were correctly classified into their original groups. It is therefore confirmed that the additional effects of training experience and biological maturation positively influenced the performance of young basketball players. We recommend that coaches focus not only on players’ body sizes, but also on their skill level, especially during adolescence, when selecting teams in order to promote sustainable long-term development.
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