Having spent the last nine seasons at Dunwoody High School in DeKalb County, Scott Bracco knows what it's like to coach a high school boys basketball program with a rich, winning tradition.
He led the Wildcats to four state Final Four appearances, including back-to-back Class AAA state championships in 2005 and 2006, and has coached numerous players that earned major college scholarships, including current Florida State forward Chris Singleton and Charlotte guard Anjuan Wilderness.
As the new boys coach at South Gwinnett, the Peachtree City native comes into another program used to winning.
He recently spoke with staff writer David Friedlander on a variety of subjects, including his coaching background, his decision to come to the Snellville school and his plans for the Comets' program.
DF: Most people know you spent the last nine seasons at Dunwoody. Where did you coach before that?
SB: I coached at Georgia Southern University as an assistant. I was head coach at Mount Zion High School in Carroll County and I spent three years at Haralson County High School. This is my 16th year in the business.
DF: You had a lot of great players and some great teams at Dunwoody. Do you feel like you'll have the same situation at South Gwinnett?
SB: We had a lot of great players at Dunwoody - a lot of players who were able to move on to the college ranks. Great players and great kids equal a lot of success. I hope to bring the same kind of success to South that I had at Dunwoody.
DF: You're coming into a (South) program that has had its share of success, too. Have you had much of a chance to kind of assess the hand you've been dealt yet?
SB: I had two weeks with these guys in June and I was able to see the players we have coming back (from a team that went 25-6 and advanced to the Class AAAAA state quarterfinals). I'm excited about what we have. It reminds me of the team I had at Dunwoody in '05 and '06 that were state champions.
We have an opportunity to play maybe three point guards. I love to have a lot of guards on the court at one time. We have A.D. (senior forward Adonis Harrison) coming back. He was (Region 8-AAAAA) player of the year. We have some size with (6-foot-6 senior) Chad Ross. We have a great shooter in Javonte Maynor. So, we have a nice core coming back this year, and they have a lot of experience off last year's team.
DF: Since you mentioned that you like to have a lot of guards on the court at one time, it sounds like you'll be wanting to run up and down the court a lot on both offense and defense.
SB: We are a transition team and we hang our hat on aggressive style of play both on the offensive and defensive ends. We're trying to really attack on the defensive end and get the other team to turn the ball over, and on the offensive end, we're just trying to attack - to get to the basket.
DF: Getting back to your background, you played your high school ball at McIntosh High School in Peachtree City and collegiately at Jacksonville (Ala.) State. What did you take from those experiences, as well as your stint as an assistant to Gregg Polinsky at Georgia Southern, and apply to your job as a head coach?
SB: I've definitely taken a lot of those coaches' philosophies and put them together to develop my own. I've been with a lot of coaches that stress fundamentals. All of those coaches stress defense - tough defense - and I think that's where I've built my philosophy.
DF: The recruiting process has certain changed in the last few years during the internet age. Has that made your job any tougher? Has it been a distraction sometimes?
SB: Not really. I think our goal as coaches, or our responsibility as coaches, is to help these players move on to the next level. With the help of the Internet, we can get more coaches into the building, and that's my goal. My goal is to have 50 to 100 coaches come through here in the offseason.
In the past, I've been lucky at Dunwoody to have (most of) my players sign (National Letters of Intent) before the season starts (during the early signing period).
DF: I guess what I'm really getting at is, with all the online recruiting services and coaches and all the attention in brings, does it make it tougher to be a high school coach these days?
SB: It is tough, but I don't think it's as tough as you think it is. ... I don't think it's so much of a distraction. I'm sure a lot of other coaches would say the same thing.
DF: Another trend you've had to deal with is the increase in players transferring from one school to another. It's one you've benefited from on occasion, but you've also lost players to transfers, as well. How has that trend changed the coaching landscape? Is it tougher to build team chemistry when new players come and go?
SB: That's a tough question because I've never had a number of players move in during one year to mess up the continuity. You may have one or two move in at the most.
Here in the metro Atlanta area, you do have a lot of guys moving from school to school. As long as the guy is a good fit for your program, you're not going to have any bumps in the road with continuity. ...
The biggest thing with the transfers is, if you get them, great. If they leave, that's OK. You've got to play with the guys you have at your school. That's all you need to worry about.
DF: How have you found the South Gwinnett community so far?
SB: I haven't met too many people in the community (yet). I'm looking forward to the football games because I think that will be a great time for me to get out and meet some of the people.
DF: Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?
SB: I'm proud to be affiliated with great players and great teams. To be successful, you have to have great people affiliated with your program. And I was lucky at Dunwoody to have all that. I'm proud of the number of players I've sent to college. I'm proud of the work ethic they put on the court that won two championships. I'm proud of everything we've done at Dunwoody.
It's time to move on and accept new challenges and bring that success to South Gwinnett.
DF: You've faced plenty of challenges, but Region 8-AAAAA has been very competitive over the years. Talk about the challenges this new region you enter presents.
SB: We have great coaches and great teams (in Region 8-AAAAA). Some of these coaches I've been friends with for a number of years. I'm just excited to be in a region with coaches that are go getters and committed to getting better every year.
DF: Your teams at Dunwoody also played in several big-time tournaments - both in Georgia and out of state - in their non-region schedules. Will you do the same thing with South's schedule?
SB: We're playing the Prep All-Star Classic in Charlotte, N.C. I'm taking the team to play in the Atlanta-Memphis Shootout. So along with the tough region schedule we have, we're playing some top national teams.
DF: That's another trend that for a lot of top teams in metro Atlanta teams. It's also a pretty big undertaking as far as financial and logistical considerations are concerned. But it sounds like it's something you enjoy doing.
SB: As long as you build your program, the national tournaments are going to seek you out. You do have a number of schools in Gwinnett County that have played on the national scene. Like Norcross - they're getting (sought) out every year. ... I'm excited to be here at South and to be able to take this team on the national scene, and I hope we're able to have the kind of success we had at Dunwoody.