Backcourt Hoops director John Bucci was honored Monday afternoon when he received the Bochicchio Sports Character Award.
The presentation came during the Bochicchio Sports Character Initiative 10th Annual Conference at the University of Scranton’s DeNaples Center.
The award is presented annually to a school or youth sports organization in recognition of its exemplary promotion of character development and the total development of young athletes through sport. The award is in memory of Joe Bochicchio, an outstanding coach and a man of impeccable character who was a highly successful University of Scranton women’s soccer coach, but also gave time to involvement in youth sports.
“It’s been a life-long mission and it was nice to be recognized for what I do,” Bucci said.
Now in its 25th year, the philosophy of Backcourt Hoops is to teach the student-athlete the values of hard work, dedication and loyalty, as well as basketball knowledge and skills.
During the quarter century running the program he created, Bucci has grown Backcourt Hoops from its origination as two AAU boys basketball teams.
“I have about 50 teams playing for me in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, the Poconos and the Cortland-Ithaca area of New York,” Bucci said.
Backcourt Hoops has grown to accommodate a wide variety of athletes and families.
“They’re leveled by player ability and travel requirements,” Bucci said of the 50 teams.
At the top, the JB Hoops teams take boys and girls teams, made up primarily of players interested in playing in college, on the road to high-level tournaments that expose them both to strong competition and the watchful eyes of college recruiters. There is also individualized training available for players.
Backcourt Hoops, however, has grown into programs for kids from kindergarten through high school. There are playing opportunities for players with varying levels of skill, commitment to other sports, interest in traveling for competition and financial means.
“It just evolved naturally, trying to accommodate people,” Bucci said. “I started the non-travel, which is the Volts and the Storm, in the past three years.”
In presenting the award, Bochicchio Initiative chairman Dr. Jack O’Malley praised Bucci for making programs accessible to kids and for his development of young coaches.
Bucci, an Associated Press state Pennsylvania Coach of the Year at the former Bishop Hannan High School in Scranton, where he won a state high school boys title, has built a roster of coaches, about half of which are his former players.
Those coaches develop their own styles and philosophies as long as they fit within the development goals of the Backcourt Hoops program.
“They have to understand the standard that we expect them to coach at and the expectations that we want them to have,” Bucci said of the coaches. “They have to understand that we’re not concerned with the games as much as we are the player development during practice.
“The games are secondary to us.”