USA Basketball Names Scott Fitch Head Coach for 2019 Nike Hoop Summit
Scott Fitch’s accomplishments on the basketball court are legendary as a high school and college player in his native Fairport, New York, just a few miles east of Rochester.
Now he’s being recognized for his coaching acumen with his selection as head coach of the 2019 USA Basketball Junior National Select Team that will compete in the 2019 Nike Hoop Summit, held April 12 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. An annual battle of the best U.S. high school seniors against an international field of stars, the Nike Hoop Summit has showcased nine No. 1 picks in the NBA Draft and 217 overall draft picks, including 76 taken among the top 10.
Inducted into a number of high school, college and regional halls of fame as a player, Fitch never had any aspirations to coach, despite being the son of accomplished coach Jeff Fitch. He starred in high school at Fairport for his father, and then in college as both a point guard and shooting guard at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he was named the NCAA Division III National Association of Basketball Coaches Player of the Year during his senior season in 1993-94.
Fitch had some pro looks from the New York Knicks and Seattle Supersonics before opting to play in Spain. Still, the desire to coach wasn’t there.
But during a trip back home, one night with his father created a spark that has turned into a full-fledged coaching passion ever since.
“I went out with my dad one night, and he had a couple of ex-players come by,” Fitch, now 47, remembered. “I saw the way they talked to him, and how much he impacted their lives. I knew right then I wanted to coach.”
What impacted Fitch the most was seeing the way the players talked to his father about the life lessons they learned from him on the basketball court. Making that kind of impression, establishing that kind of legacy, was a feeling Fitch had never experienced before. It inspired him to enter the coaching ranks himself.
Fast forward to last year. Following the high school season, Fitch and his dad were honored at a ceremony commemorating 50 straight years of a Fitch coaching the Fairport varsity boys’ basketball team. Jeff Fitch went 458-230 in 33 years at Fairport; Scott Fitch was 277-78 in 17 seasons at the helm, with this numbers climbing this season.
His father, though retired, still attends every practice and every game, and Scott Fitch embodies that sense of family with his wife, Kim, an orthopedic physician assistant, and children Autumn and Colby.
It’s no wonder then, with success breeding success, that Scott Fitch was named to coach the USA team at the Nike Hoop Summit.
Fitch received the opportunity after working as an assistant coach for the last U17 FIBA World Cup and U16 FIBA World Championships gold-medal winning teams under longtime USA Basketball coach Don Showalter.
“Scott is really a basketball guy,” Showalter said. “I was impressed with him the way he relates to players when he was my assistant, one of those things being demanding without being demeaning.
“He demands a lot out of the kids without demeaning them. That’s a trait I personally look for in other coaches as well as myself. He knows the game extremely well. He’s a very good thinker of the game and I’ve been impressed with the way he thinks during the game. He doesn’t get emotional.”
As a professed lifelong learner, Fitch said he learns from both the coaches and the players he works with, and hopes they learn something from him.
Two years ago, he was asked to assist Showalter with the USA U16 national team.
“I felt very at home,” Fitch said. “It was something that matched my moral compass and my passion.”
One of his other passions is speaking at clinics and assemblies about the importance of leadership and the impact of social media for today’s youth.
“It’s something I take pride in because I see how it affects my own high school players,” he said. “Speaking is the one thing that keeps me grounded because I’m making an impact on other people.”
Working with the USA U16 and U17 teams and helping them win gold medals the past two years has given him an increased appreciation of the talent level in the U.S. and around the world.
“One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about my USA Basketball experience is working with kids who want to be great, who want to be coached,” he said. “The kids we work with, once they find out you can make them better, they’re all-in. This experience provides some special opportunities to be with kids, and I enjoy that.
Fitch and the 2019 USA Nike Hoop Summit Team will have their work cut out for them in April. USA leads the series 14-7, but is just 5-5 since 2009.
“Any time you have the chance to represent your country, it’s an amazing opportunity,” Fitch said of the challenge. “The fact that I’ve been connected with some of these kids the last two years on our USA U16 and U17 teams is important. I’ve grown to like them not only as basketball players, but as people.”