Boz Bernstein, Student of the Game, Finds Ways to Win

If you were to look up the definition of a gym rat in the basketball dictionary, you would probably find a picture of Boz Bernstein.

Bernstein, a 5-foot-7 point guard from Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, N.Y., is a member of the Class of 2014 and has taken advantage of every opportunity Hoop Group Camps afford him to become a better basketball player. From going to early bird practices, through the sweatshops and even the film sessions – he especially liked the segment about Ray Allen and perfecting his shot – he has been devouring basketball since he arrived on the campus of Albright College on July 7.

“My mom tells me that ever since I was a little kid I always had a ball in my hands,” said Bernstein.

“Once when I was little, I bounced the ball so hard it hit my face and left this scar,” he said pointing above his nose. “I remember always having a ball in my hands after that.”

Bernstein has been making his own marks on the court ever since.

Playing for the Crusaders Bernstein has faced top flight opposition in New York’s competitive Catholic High School Athletic Association and also as a member of the AAU’s Westchester Hawks the undersized point guard has held his own.

“Sure, sometimes guys hit me a little harder because I’m small, but I can take.”

One reason he can take it is the workout routine Bernstein puts himself through to improve his game.

In addition to his team commitments and attending Hoop Group camps the past two years, he also works out two to three times a week with a personal basketball coach and hits the weight room at least two times a week. Even before he leaves the house, he is working on his game, in what many may think is an unorthodox way.

“When I was in the eighth grade I saw my brother, who used to run track, jumping rope and I’ve been doing since then. Not only is it a good workout but it helps we with my developing quick feet and hands.”

Those quick feet and hands have helped Bernstein rise to where he is, but he knows there are still weaknesses in his game.

“I know I have to improve my mid-range shot and my rebounding,” he said, “no matter how tall you are you have to be able to rebound. And even though I workout and I see a difference, I know I can still get stronger.”

While those may be some of the holes in his game, his strengths including playing tenacious defense, hitting the open shot and taking the ball to the basket.

“As a point guard I look up to Kyrie Irving. He’s awesome. He plays defense, most point guards in the league (NBA) don’t play defense. And the way he handles the ball. I want my handle to be just as good as his.”

Although Bernstein may look to the NBA’s Irving to study his defense, he didn’t have to look very far to improve his skill of driving to the rim. He only had to look in his own home.

Father Aaron Bernstein, a former player at SUNY-Cortland, gave his son some advice which Boz uses in his game to this day.

“My father taught me that because of my height I have to use the rim as a defender for my shot. He also taught me that when I drive and leave my man, be sure to take another man with me so that a teammate is open if I don’t have a shot.”

It’s knowledge like that which has put the 15-year-old rising junior in the position he is in to shine over the final two years of his high school career.

“Last year I was the sixth man (on the Crusaders), this year I have been starting at all the camps and this weekend at AAU Nationals I will be getting a chance to start the first few games because our starting point guard will be coming later in the week,” said Bernstein.

So it has all been building to this. After all the extra workouts, the weight lifting and the scars on his face, it is now time for Bernstein to continue improving and impressing so that he can achieve his basketball goals.

“I’d like to earn a Division I or II scholarship, not only for myself but for my parents. My older brother is going to college this year and my family has put a lot of money into my development as a basketball player. I feel that is a way I can pay them back. The only thing I told my parents I wanted was a car.”

When asked what kind, he said with a laugh, “a Mercedes.”

Follow Pete Febbraro on Twitter: @pfebbraro

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