Michael H. Weinstein has been in the basketball world from almost the very beginning of his time. As a young child he gravitated to the game shooting in the back yard. It was just him, his ball, his hoop and his great imagination and dreams. Over the years, he used basketball to keep himself on a positive track in life. Basketball helped him overcome many adversities. It taught him never to give up and always strive to do better. The game has meant and been a huge part of his life. No matter what has been going on....basketball has been his sanctuary. And with that said, he wants to help others fulfill their dreams and give them the tools to be successful and reach their potential in the not only in the game of basketball, but in the game of life.
As a young child he had meningitis and his parents were told he’d never play competitive sports. He worked with a gymnastic coach to learn balance and in the back yard he played basketball. He was a manager for his school basketball team in 7th and 8th grade. Coach Weinstein was the last player to make the team. He never let any of those setbacks discourage his dreams. In high school, Coach Weinstein made Frosh A team only to be back on B team due to production.....then Soph year he went from the bench to his position as a starter. However, his starting position was on Highland Parks’ worst Varsity team of all time, with a record of 1-23. Despite this challenge, he was determined to fulfill the philosophy of “keep getting better no matter what.” He ended up leading the Highland Park 1988 team to a CSL Conference Title. His love of basketball taught him many life lessons, including hard work through great preparation and holding himself accountable every day to help his team have success.
Recruited by small schools and with little information on how many great opportunities there were to play at the collegiate level, he decided to go to University of Missouri. He tried out to be a walk-on and a practice player for a great Missouri team, which featured several future professional players and won the Big Eight Title in 1990. Coach Weinstein graduated with a Psychology Degree and went on for a Masters of Psychology from National Lewis University with an emphasis on children, planning to help youngsters stay positive in the midst of life’s challenges. He shares his game experience so others know he has been at the bottom, the middle and with the top tier players in the country. His playing days gave him great rewards through friendships, team accomplishments and the ability to travel the world. Coach Weinstein played Maccabi games, on exhibition teams and made many great contacts thru the game. After only being a practice player, he had the chance to transfer and follow his dreams his junior year when he was recruited by several D2 schools. In retrospect, he didn't take that leap and looking back that is where he developed his belief that "you should turn every stone before you give up your dream."
Coach Weinstein was always coaching, from his childhood as the oldest of four, to working basketball camps in high school and college. He was always a mentor to his teammates and to younger players coming up. Out of college, he volunteered at his alma mater coaching varsity basketball, in Highwood small fry, junior high ball in Glencoe Central, and working camps. He also created the Highland Park Feeder program for junior high boys living in the district. The Jr. Giant program served to introduce players to the high school program, and incorporated drills, meet-the-coaches, and developed the passion to be a “GIANT.”
From there Coach Weinstein created his first basketball endeavor, Joy of the Game. The program was rooted in his desire to keep young kids playing and developing no matter their skill level. He created Joy of the Game because, like his experience, many kids were not developing in the game he loved and being discouraged to play basketball. So in 1993 at Highlight Park, Joy of the Game opened its doors. His first camp had 27 participants, then grew to 44, and then numbered in the hundreds. JG grew at a rapid rate, including kindergarten to 8 th grade boys and girls who worked on skills and game action in the ultra positive atmosphere. Joy of the Game developed over seventeen years to become a mainstay in top coaching and development for young athletes. Under Coach Weinstein, Joy of the Game became one of the first and most successful sports facilities in the area, encompassing premier events, camps, leagues, charity events, parties, bar mitzvahs, exposure for collegiate players and also housed top programs in soccer, volleyball, physical therapy, weight training, marital arts and a custom uniform company. The building even housed a one-of-a-kind Nike store, and featured visits from Kobe Bryant and other Nike athletes. Coach Weinstein also developed two baseball facilities which followed top quality programming standards. Joy of the Game averaged close to a half a million visitors a year.
Coach Weinstein’s passion for helping others led him to create the JG Foundation in 2000, with a mission to help kids in need. Every year he raised money so others without the means to do so could participate in JG programs. He also held outreach programs and camps at schools to spread his positive message. He also invested time in raising money for local and national causes, and helped several programs by donating facility time.
Within the Joy of the Game corporation, Coach Weinstein created an additional program called Rising Stars in 1996. This program emphasized teaching players how to play as a team and compete against the best. It was also his means to prepare players for college and help his players reach the next level (whether it be Division 1, 2, 3, NAIA, etc.). Coach Weinstein has always loved that great team basketball and personal sacrifice can give a group of individuals great success. His teams became nationally recognized for their tremendous fundamental style of play, ability to win at a high rate, and to prepare players for a college-level understanding and knowledge of the game. His teams have been very successful in major events such as AAU Nationals, Kentucky Hoop Fest, King James, Nike Showcases, Las Vegas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois State AAU Final 4 ten straight years. In his last eleven years, Coach Weinstein has sent 257 athletes to compete in college athletics ranging from Division 1 to Division 3.
In 2011, Coach Weinstein felt the time was right to pass the torch and sell Joy of the Game to keep its legacy alive and growing. The change allotted him time to focus on his family, friends and his physical/mental health. He also got the chance to watch his players in action all around the country. It made him feel like a proud father, to watch so many of his players achieve success at a variety of colleges and universities. He also had the chance to visit with many of his friends in the collegiate level and watch practice, preparations, games, reviews and assessments of players, strategies and production. He was back in his former atmosphere of coaching! He got an itch to coach and compete again, and to want to be in the gym! He was able to observe the best in the profession at some of the best colleges, both large and small.
In 2012, he created Fundamental University which consisted of nine players, seven upcoming seniors and two upcoming juniors. His love of practice, mentorship and competition flourished again! Quickly the team became recognized for his past teams’ same principals. It also validated Coach Weinstein and reminded him why he coaches and loves the game: his desire to help others play the game right and help them chase their dreams. Of the seven seniors, five have committed to play for Division 1 teams and two have several opportunities to play at other schools. And the upcoming juniors are ready to be leaders. “This opportunity was one of the best and needed things in my life!” Coach Weinstein said. He had the time to work with great players and their families, who were all on the same page. Now he hopes to replicate that experience for others and himself. “I am not looking to create some business model for pay to play; there are plenty out there. This is a program not for the masses, but for those who understand a high commitment level, hard work and an honest environment. I believe this will give you the chance to be your best!”
Through 2012, Coach Weinstein has returned to training both pro and college players to upcoming and current high school players. His players are having great success this year, so much so that he is inspired to work with others to follow successful paths.
In 2016 Coach Weinstein partnered and help create a new youth program with Aaron London. Man Up Basketball for 2nd thru 8th grade boys and girls. He also has partnered with West Coast Elite Academic running in July for academic student athletes looking for exposure to play in college basketball. Coach Weinstein in addition still runs the very successful High Academic Showcase running during the live NCAA period for student athletes college exposure!
Scholarship student-athlete for Head Coach Lennox Forrester at SIU Edwardsville of the Ohio Valley Conference from 2008-2012 (2-year starter & team captain), graduated with a degree in Business Management. Kevin played high school basketball for Pat Ambrose at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire (3 Year Varsity, 2 Time All-Conference, All-Area, All-State honorable mention). Placed 4th downstate in 2007 as a player for the Patriots and most recently spent the last 3 years (2013-2015) as an Assistant Varsity Coach for Stevenson High School: part of a 2nd place finish (2013), 3rd place finish (2014) and Class 4A State Championship in 2015. Beyond athletics, Kevin is a Sales Consultant for ADP and lives in Chicago, IL.
Danny Sotos played basketball at Conant High School from 2011-2015, starting on Varsity from 2012-2015 and serving as team captain as a senior, and Lake Forest College from 2015-2019, starting all 4 years and serving as team captain as a senior. He finished his career at Lake Forest 7th all-time scoring, 8th in field goals made, and 5th in 3-point field goals made and was named to the All-Midwest Conference Second Team as a senior.
Over Danny's four years, Lake Forest College qualified for the Midwest Conference Tournament all four years and made the NCAA Division lll National Tournament in 2019, both firsts in school history.
Danny will be attending the School of Law at Washington University in St. Louis beginning in the Fall of 2020.
Christian Sotos began his playing career at Conant High School, where he was an all-conference & all-area point guard. His collegiate career persisted through a slew of shoulder & surgeries and spanned across three colleges in Carroll University, Harper College & North Central College. After having to walk away from the game following a 3rd & 4th surgery, Christian briefly entered a world of software development before finding his way back to basketball as a strength and conditioning trainer and a skills development coach.
Christian has coached & trained players in a variety of capacities over the past decade, and having been through the recruiting process three times himself while also playing an integral part in the recruiting processes of his three brothers, Christian finds himself uniquely suited to the challenges that AAU basketball presents. Both as a recruiting aid and as a player development coach, Christian is well equipped & committed to helping players set & reach their goals on the circuit and at the next level! helping players set & reach their goals on the circuit and at the next level!
We are pleased to welcome our Assistant Director for Jr. Fundamental U. Neil Fraser to the team! Neil Fraser has been coaching youth basketball for the past five and a half years. He brings knowledge and energy to the team and is eager to learn. He’s played a major role in feeder programs across the northwest suburbs including the Mundelein and Fremd feeder programs. Neil has also been coaching regional and elite level high school AAU teams for the duration of his coaching career. Neil has played a major role in AAU programs around the Lake County area. He’s trained, and continues to train some of the top players in the Lake County area. Neil will be working with all aspects of the program at Fundamental U. Beyond coaching Neil has played the role of a program director, tournament director, summer camp coordinator, ran social media, and more. He’s been involved with all ages within the game of basketball and is a valuable asset to the team.
Currently the Assistant Varsity Coach at Taft High School. Previously, had coached at Glenbrook North with the feeder program and varsity program for the last 9 years. Played college basketball at North Park University in Chicago, IL
Jordan Baum played basketball at Deerfield High School from 2012-2016, starting on varsity from 2013-2016. During his senior year while serving as team captain, Jordan averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals per game. Over the course of his high school career, Jordan was voted as an Illinois Mr. Basketball Finalist, IBCA Third Team All-State, AP All-State Honorable Mention, Chicago Tribune All-State Honorable Mention, Chicago Sun-Times All-Area, News Sun First Team All-Lake County, IBCA Special Mention All-State, and two-time CSL North All-Conference player.
He played for Coach Weinstein since the Joy of the Game days, ultimately playing for Fundamental U during his 16U and 17U seasons. With Coach Weinstein’s assistance he committed to the University of Chicago, where he played for four years and was a three year starter. Starting 70 out of 100 games in his four years, he was named First Team All-Conference as a junior and Honorable Mention All-Conference as a senior. Jordan is the school’s all-time leader in career assists, fourth all-time in career steals, and seventh all-time in career three-pointers made.