Interview with Prolific Prep head coach Joey Fuca.
The world of basketball is changing at a meteoric pace.
Nowhere is that more evident than in Napa, California which is a region universally known for producing some of the world’s finest wine but is now developing a reputation for producing finely tuned basketball players.
Prolific Prep is a basketball academy founded in 2014 that has quickly established itself as one of the premier high school programs in the United States. They provide a college-prep education to the best players in the country both on and off the basketball court that rivals many major conference NCAA programs.
They have already developed a few dozen NCAA players through their program as well as a couple of current NBA players in Josh Jackson (Memphis) and Gary Trent, Jr. (Portland).
Your average high school basketball team in AnyTown U.S.A doesn’t have TV camera’s following them around 24 hours a day but that is the new normal at Prolific Prep which is the subject of a 14-episode reality show on YouTube through the Overtime sports network which debuted in April and has already been viewed by over two million people through the first five episodes.
31 year-old Los Angeles native Joey Fuca just wrapped his first season as the head coach of Prolific Prep leading them to a 31-3 record and winning The Grind Session which is essentially a Champions League of the best high school teams in North America.
Fuca spoke about the nuances of trying to coach a high school team while having cameras directed at him and his players in every huddle, hotel and locker room.
He said, “It was a great experience and our guys flourished because they had the added stress of winning but also winning for a TV show.” Fuca continued, “On top of being Prolific Prep and everybody wants to beat us but now we’re Prolific Prep and we have Overtime following us which was even more of a target on our back; but it was a good experience.”
By the time the Overtime series wraps up, somewhere in the range of 10 to 20 million people will have viewed the show online.
Fuca has been apart of the fabric of youth basketball in California following his own playing career at The Masters University as well as playing professionally in Europe for two years. He learned the trade of being a coach as a graduate assistant at the University of Nevada under Eric Musselman (now head coach at Arkansas) whom he counts as a mentor and speaks with regularly.
This past season, Fuca was able to coach and mentor some the best prospects in the world including the No.1 rated player on the ESPN 100 Jalen Green who was a McDonald’s All-American and one of the most sought after players in the country.
Green decided to bypass college offers from the likes of Memphis and Auburn to turn pro and will instead play in the NBA G-League next season. Green’s controversial decision has laid the ground work for several other top recruits to do the same.
Fuca speaks highly of Green and was fully supportive of his decision to turn pro instead of going to college. He said, “Jalen is one of the best kids I’ve ever been around, he’s outgoing, he’s friendly, he’s a competitor and guys gravitate towards him.” Fuca added,”He’s everything you want in a kid.”
Prolific Prep also had a second McDonald’s All-American on the roster in Nimari Burnett who has committed to play for Chris Beard at Texas Tech as well as Coleman Hawkins (Illinois), Mawot Mag (Rutgers), Saba Gigiberia (Georgia Tech) and Frank Anselem who recently reclassified from a 2021 to a 2020 and will decide between Arkansas, Syracuse, Seton Hall and a few others.
Prolific Prep is a microcosm of today’s basketball where the players are becoming more empowered and a brand onto themselves.
The honor of best bottle of wine in the world was recently awarded to Napa Valley’s Hundred Acre’s Kayli Morgan Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon circa 2014.
It appears as though 2014 was the foundation for a great wine and Prolific Prep to begin their coming of age in Napa, California.
Good wine only improves with age. Expect the same from the level of talent coming out of Prolific Prep in the coming years.