College coaches make their way to select AAU basketball events throughout the spring and summer, looking for the individual players they will pursue to try to add to their programs.
Quite often they locate those players by following successful teams.
The players who make up the JB Hoops National 11th grade girls team, coached by John Bucci, have worked together to help each other win games and attract attention.
“What we’ve gotten them to understand is they are only as good as the team,” Bucci said. “If the team is successful, then they’re going to be successful.
“That matters to coaches. What people don’t understand is, ‘are these coaches looking for people who can score? Yeah.’ But, they’re also looking for people who play the game the right way.
“Do they make the right pass? Are in the right spot on defense? Do they rebound the ball?”
The answer to those questions has been a resounding yes. The commitment to the defensive end of the floor, the willingness to share on the offensive end and work on rebounding on both ends have been hallmarks of a perfect start to the season in the college showcase events, going a combined 10-0.
“The kids have played really well,” Bucci said. “They’ve bought into a defensive-first philosophy.
“In all of our pool games, we’re always the team that gave up the least amount of points.”
JB Hoops went undefeated at the Select Events’ Live at the Nook April 26-28. They were 5-0 to win Pool D, beating New Jersey Shoreshots-Allen Orange and New Jersey Demons, the two teams that wound up tying for second in the pool at 3-2, by scores of 51-38 and 30-21 on the first day.
JB Hoops finished the weekend at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim, Lancaster County giving up 32.2 points per game.
There was more of the same May 17-19 when JB Hoops won a title at the Atlantic City Showcase.
The team went 3-0 in Pool I by an average margin of 50.7-34.7, then won a pair of two-point games against winners of other pools to claim the Pool I-L Championship.
Lauren Charlton from Dallas, who received her first National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I interest while on the comeback trail from shoulder surgery with JB Hoops last summer, and Mackenzie Steele from Susquehanna received the most high-level interest following that championship effort. They are among the players in the program preparing for their senior years in high school.
Three other seniors – Taylor Huyck from Susquehanna, Nya Johnson from West Scranton and Lindsey Welsh from Old Forge – were part of the impressive spring performance.
Johnson and Welsh are both new additions to the program this season.
“We added Lindsey Welsh and Nya Johnson and they’ve been a huge part of our team with their athleticism, their mental toughness, their aggressive play,” Bucci said. “They’ve helped set the tone for us defensively.”
Leah Hodick from Riverside, the other senior on the team, missed the first two college showcase events because of an injury.
JB Hoops National has gone with a 10-player lineup in the two biggest events.
Rachael Rose and Cecelia Collins from Scranton Prep, Kayla Rose from Riverside and Clair Marion from Abington Heights are getting ready for their junior seasons in high school.
Dunmore’s Moriah Murray is going into her sophomore season after being the only Pennsylvania first-team, all-state high school selection from the freshman class in 2018-19.
Bucci said he has received several preliminary inquiries about Rachael Rose, who has received all-state recognition in both her high school seasons, and Murray.
All of the players on the team have already enjoyed all-star level success on their high school teams.
“They really, really like each other,” Bucci said. “They play well together. They understand sharing the ball.
“They accept the fact that certain kids can do certain things and they just really like each other.”
JB Hoops National team will try to continue that success in three demanding summer challenges. The team returns to Spooky Nook July 6-8 for the Blue Chip USA Invitational; travels to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. for the USJN 17U National Championships July 22-25; and goes to Chicago for Nike National Championships.