There are a number of litmus tests to determine the level of love of the game of basketball and coaching a youth team while playing professionally overseas certainly qualifies. That’s what Joey Fuca did during his two years in Germany so it’s little wonder he is now running the Lakeshow program as well as working as a skills trainer.
“I’ve always been someone taking on a challenge,” Fuca said. Yes, he has.
He played two sports, basketball and football, at San Ramon Valley High—a guard with the former and a cornerback on the latter. But after receiving interest from various college hoops teams, Fuca didn’t take to the gridiron as a senior.
“I had a few D2 offers and others from NAIA teams plus I could have walked on at Santa Clara.” Fuca chose The Master’s College down in Santa Clarita. “They told me I would be competing for playing time.”
He started half the team’s games as a freshman. “As a sophomore, I shot the ball more and created more.” His junior season brought the most personal accolades. “After spending more time in the gym, I led the team in scoring and earned All Conference and All-American honors.”
Then came Germany
“I graduated in 2011 and wanted to play pro ball. I was working as a valet in Los Angeles and tried out with the LA Defenders and the Reno Bighorns.”He first met Eric Musselman when he went after a roster spots with the Bighorns and that would later prove fruitful. “I flew to Spain, to the Canary Islands, for a tryout but didn’t get picked up.”
A year went by. “Then Sebastian Hermeth of SportsVision Services, the agent of a buddy of mine, helped me get on with a team in Germany. I signed with him on Monday and I was in Munich on Saturday. It was late in the pre-season in 2012. I averaged 23 points a game and was named the MVP.” A second year had Fuca again playing Germany, this time with a team in Frankfurt.
Fuca had a choice between playing in Germany again or with a team in the UK “but I was really missing my family. “The experience was awesome and the money was good. Anyone fortunate enough to have the chance to play in Europe should absolutely do it. But I began to re-assess what I wanted to do.”
He returned home. But Eric Musselman, having recently been named the head coach at Nevada, reached out to Fuca offering a graduate assistant position that would allow the the opportunity to earn a Master’s degree while being directly involved with the day-to-day life of a college team. That season, the Wolf Pack won 24 games and captured the CBI championship.
Again, he returned to the north East Bay but with coaching experience and a graduate degree. “I finished my Master’s that year and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity Eric gave me at Nevada.”
“I started working out guys.” The Lakeshow program has been dormant for a year but Fuca readied it for a comeback. “We had 150 kids for tryouts. The idea was to try and take Lakeshow to the next level. Success in the form of the Lakeshow 17s winning the Fab 48 in Las Vegas and Nike upping its commitment has provided the program even greater gravitas.
“We really enjoy taking high character guys and getting them to play above their level. We believe Bay Area teams should be filled with Bay Area players. The LA area does a better job promoting and marketing and getting their kids more exposure. Ryan Silver has three teams at each level, two real good ones and a high academic team.”
Fuca’s plans have him remaining in the Bay Area. “I’m a gym rat who loves coaching and training guys to reach their full potential.”
Who does Fuca count as major basketball influences?
“Eric Musselman is one of the best X-and-O guys, a motivator with a great basketball mind and Phil Handy (now with the Cleveland Cavaliers as an assistant coach and director of player development). I trained with Phil and the St. Mary’s guys. John Raynor (the now retired longtime San Ramon Valley High coach) instilled values like respect, loyalty and trust into us, growing us into men. There is a SRV brotherhood and he is responsible for that.”
» Read more in-depth analysis of basketball coaching in my `Coaching is a Risky Business’ cornerstone article.