Words by Skylar Lara and Al Blanton | Cover photo by Marvin Gentry; Photo of Scott Ware by Al Blanton
For any athletic program to be successful, it must have a great culture that comes from a great coaching philosophy.
Hoover varsity boys’ head basketball coach Scott Ware says his philosophy—rooted in the belief that defense wins championships through maximum effort and playing as a team—has remained constant since his early days at Walker High School in Jasper. But through the years, he says his game maturity has grown.
That was no more evident than when Hoover captured the 7A state championship on March 4 with an 84-66 victory over Central-Phenix City at BJCC Legacy Arena in Birmingham.
The championship, both a culmination of Ware’s coaching journey and a bittersweet moment for Ware personally, was realized when the 31-4 Bucs dispatched a team led by Ware’s former head coach at Hoover, Charles Burkett, who now serves as the head coach at Central-Phenix City.
“Coach Burkett and I talked earlier in the year about scheduling a regular season game for the upcoming season. I guess fate wanted us to play that game this year. I always pull for Coach Burkett’s team except for when he plays Hoover. The good guys won this round,” Ware laughs.
Spending time under Burkett as an assistant certainly rubs off, and in many ways, Ware echoes the same values as his mentor and friend. He says he believes a coach can learn as much from his or her players as they do from them. “Charles was a great player, and he has a great ability to see things through the eyes of the player. I now try to see things through the eyes of players more than I ever did in my previous years,” says Ware. “The ability of coaches to adapt to the times and the current culture allows them to be relevant in the players’ eyes. If the players know you care and see that you are keeping up with the current state of the game, they will buy in to what you are trying to get them to do.’
Ware adds that good coaches continue to grow by striving to learn new things about the game of basketball each year and adapting to change. He believes that often he can get more out of his team by trusting his players and letting them be themselves on the court.
“Players make plays and sometimes the best thing a coach can do is to not over-coach players,” he says. “Give them the plan and trust them to follow it and use their unique abilities to make plays within the plan. I tell my guys all the time, basketball is a players’ game. The coaching staff lays out the game plan, but it’s up to the players to execute it.”
By giving his players credit and implementing an unselfish approach to coaching, Ware is leading in a way that is certain to bring long-term success at Hoover.
“ I have a great group of assistant coaches, but understand it was the players who went out and won that state championship,” Ware says. “I’m so proud of each of them.” WL