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Oxford Park Commission

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26

Oct, 2022

Rucker, Tupelo Saints leading OPC Mini Dribblers

By John Davis
Community Relations Director

Basketball has been near and dear to Brian Rucker since he was old enough to pick up a ball. 

Born and raised in a sports family, Rucker matriculated his way up the playing ranks to Pontotoc High School, Itawamba Community College and Martin Methodist College (now known as the University of Tennessee Southern). Rucker is now mentoring young players as a coach/trainer through his basketball organization, the Tupelo Saints. 

Rucker remembers the exact point where his inspiration for the Tupelo Saints started back in 2017.

“My wife and I were at a church league basketball game. It was fifth grade girls and we were looking at the talent on the floor,” Rucker said. “If you haven’t been taught, you just don’t know. Kids just didn’t know the right skills, they didn’t know the game of basketball. We left that night, we talked about it, and that was the movement of the Tupelo Saints. That fall we reached out to some parents about what we were thinking and we put together a girls’ youth basketball team under the Tupelo Police Athletic League.”

What started with a team of seven or eight girls to teach them the sport has now turned into 80 plus kids in the program since collaborating with the DC Bucks. Rucker also trains between 25 and 30 kids in the program on a monthly basis. His focus is on the fundamentals of basketball, as well as teaching the game, from the correct terms to strategy.

“My goal is to teach them which foot to use as a pivot, teach them the rules of the game, the importance of playing hard and never giving up.) We start from scratch. One of the major things to emphasize is ball handling,” Rucker said. “We see it now at the middle school level. There is probably one kid on each team that handle the ball and that’s it. If they’re in foul trouble, it becomes crazy. I also put major emphasis at a young age on defense. We will teach you how to shoot proper form. We will teach you all the other things that come along with it, but those two things (ball handling & defense) are the things they need to pick up right now.”

Rucker said that he also tries to educate parents on the sport, and how they play a role in developing their young athlete.

“I think first, the parents have to be educated. It’s starts with the parents. At that age, everyone wants their child to score a basket,” Rucker said. “What I’ve seen through the years, if my daughter or son isn’t touching the ball or scoring a basket, I’m frustrated as a parent. Then it trickles down. We try to educate the parent on the fundamental side. We try to get them to understand that their child is brand new to this, and it’s more important to celebrate small victories.

“I want to build confidence. When a kid leaves this Mini Dribbler program, they should go home and feel like they can do whatever Coach Brian just told me. Our kids are missing that so much for various reasons.” Rucker added. “As adults, as coaches and mentors, we don’t give kids the confidence they need to do said tasks. That’s one of our main focuses, to build confidence, and we try to create a positive atmosphere to where if Johnny is the weakest kid in this class, then when he is finishing up his drills, everyone else is cheering for him. It’s one team, one family while we’re all here together.”

 

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Oxford Park Commission

400 Price Street 
Oxford, Mississippi 38655

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 662-232-2380

Contact Us

Oxford Park Commission

400 Price Street 
Oxford, Mississippi 38655

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 662-232-2380

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