Zach Rocco helping Penn-Trafford boys basketball be all it can be

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Thursday, December 12, 2019 | 5:39 PM


Zach Rocco is an Army of one.

Not in terms of his role on the Penn-Trafford basketball team this season — although he is the only returning starter and senior — but rather in the way he goes about his business. The way he deals with an always regimented, always thought-provoking daily life.

His father, Jim, the Warriors’ coach, said Zach is unique in his approach to not only the game of basketball, but also to the way he lives.

And that, he believes, is why his son wants to continue his playing career — and development — at Division-I Army at West Point.

The military lifestyle and long-term commitment that come with playing at service academies are not for everyone. But with Rocco, it’s more of a natural fit than you might think.

Apparently, Rocco already is a good soldier — in a firm rhythm of individuality with an eye toward others.

“He’s a stand-up kid,” Jim Rocco said. “We’re fortunate to have the senior we have. He is so committed and caring. He’s a role model.”

Zach Rocco excels in the classroom and on the court and likes to help others. Maybe that explains his lofty assist numbers.

He started a “Chapter of Action” club at school for teens struggling with bullying, social issues and other elements that confront high school students.

“He wants to help kids, and that’s all him,” Jim Rocco said. “Our kids will benefit from his mentorship.”

Rocco, a 6-foot-2 point guard, has been a steady contributor for the Warriors (3-0) and has taken on an increased scoring role this season with such a young group around him.

In the season opener against North Allegheny, Rocco sliced through the defense for an end-to-end, game-winning layup as time expired as the Warriors won, 52-50. Rocco had a game-high 23 points.

The next night at the Hempfield tournament, he went for 25 points and outdueled Monessen star sophomore Devin Whitlock in a 76-71 win.

The Warriors stayed unbeaten with a 61-43 win at Armstrong as Rocco went for a game-high 24.

“Zach brings four years of varsity experience to the team,” Warriors junior guard Chase Vecchio said. “He motivates the team and communicates very well while helping us stay calm and focused. On the court, he is an all-around great player and we feed off of his confidence.”

Rocco averaged 14 points and eight assists last season. A splash summer in AAU with the PK Flash brought around the college suitors, many at the Division I level.

Jim Rocco said Army offered his son, and now they are going through the long application process.

Zach expects to get an appointment and plans to accept.

“It’s where I want to go,” he said.

Zach Rocco isn’t about the attention or hype. He doesn’t have a Twitter account and doesn’t share his recruiting with the world.

His Army offer has been a secret.

“It’s not my style,” he said. “I’m not about wanting to post every offer I get. I want it to be real.”

Rocco also had interest from Ivy and Patriot League schools.

“I have been to a ton of schools, all over the place,” he said. “I really liked what I saw at Army. I like what they do. It’s a great opportunity for my future. I know I will have a job. I want to get an education there and go out and make a difference. You can’t play basketball forever.”

Rocco is interested in aerospace engineering.

“I am really into problem solving,” he said. “I like the challenge of solving something that is said to be impossible.”

Basketball-wise, Rocco said he likes Army’s style of play.

“They play really fast,” he said. “Like we do here. Who knows? Maybe we’ll have some Army-like plays this year.”

Zach appears to be on the fast track to a career in the military.

“With Army, he wants to contribute to a cause,” Jim Rocco said. “I hope it works out for him, yes, but I also hope it works out for our country.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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