Modern Basketball at the High School Level

Modern Basketball at the High School Level with Mark Cascio

Welcome to the world of modern basketball for high school coaches! While traditional methods are still popular in gyms around the world, the modern approach to basketball simply asks “Is there a better way?” Coach Mark Cascio believes that there’s no reason youth and high school programs can’t also play a modern style of basketball similar to what’s found in the collegiate and professional levels.

In this blog, we will explore Coach Cascio’s key components of modern basketball at the high school level. From the importance of player development to the concept of protection plans, we will delve into the strategies and techniques that make modern basketball so exciting and effective. Whether you’re a coach or a player, understanding these principles will help you take your game to the next level.

Mark Cascio is a former assistant coach with the Appalachian State University Women’s Basketball Program. Previous to coaching collegiately, Coach Cascio was a head high school coach for 15 years. During his eight seasons at Catholic High School, the basketball program experienced unprecedented success, including 5 District Titles and 3 Final Four Appearances. Prior to Catholic High School, Coach Cascio became the youngest coach in the history of Louisiana to win a State Championship when he led Christian Life Academy to a 2012 title. His tenure at CLA also included another Final Four Appearance and back-to-back-to-back district championships. Prior to becoming a head high school coach, he served at the youth, high school and AAU levels.

The Foundation: Player Development

When it comes to modern basketball, Mark Cascio believes player development is the key. As a coach, your goal is to help your players reach their full potential and become well-rounded basketball players. This starts with building a strong foundation of skills and decision-making abilities.

At the high school level, players are like blank canvases, ready to be shaped and molded. The focus should be on teaching fundamental skills such as passing, shooting, and footwork. By starting with the basics and gradually building upon them, players can develop a solid skill set that will serve them well in the game.

One of the key aspects of player development in modern basketball is the emphasis on decision-making. Players should be taught to think in terms of advantages and disadvantages, rather than simply executing plays. This means teaching them how to read the defense, make the right pass, and take advantage of openings on the court. By developing their decision-making skills, players can become more effective and efficient on the court.

The Modern Style of Play

Modern basketball at the high school level should resemble the style of play seen at higher levels, such as the NBA and NCAA. The main difference is the absence of a shot clock and a shorter three-point line. However, the basic principles remain the same.

One of the main tenets of modern basketball is the focus on spacing and ball movement. Players should be taught to space the floor, create gaps, and move the ball to create open shots. The goal is to teach players to play conceptually, focusing on advantages rather than simply running set plays.

Another important aspect of modern basketball is the emphasis on playing off the catch and making quick decisions. Players should be taught to think in terms of advantages and opportunities, rather than just taking shots or running set plays. This approach allows for more creativity and innovation on the court, making the game more enjoyable for players and coaches alike.

Mark Cascio knows that defense is also a crucial part of modern basketball at the high school level. Players should be taught to play aggressively, disrupt passing lanes, and force turnovers. The goal is to create advantages on the defensive end and convert them into fast break opportunities on offense.

Protection Plans and Key Performance Indicators

A unique aspect of modern basketball is the use of protection plans. Protection plans are like Plan B for players, providing them with alternative options when they can’t create an advantage or make a play. These plans allow players to get out of trouble and find solutions on the court.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are another important aspect of modern basketball. Each player has a specific role and set of skills that they are expected to excel in. KPIs help define these roles and provide players with clear objectives to focus on during games and practices.

For example, a player’s KPI could be to be a dominant force off the balance, attacking gaps and creating scoring opportunities. Another player’s KPI could be to be a ball mover, keeping the ball moving and making smart passes. By defining these roles and evaluating players based on their KPIs, coaches can help players understand their strengths and areas for improvement.

Playing Modern Basketball with Any Team

One common misconception about modern basketball is that it requires a highly athletic team. While athleticism can certainly be an advantage, it is not a prerequisite for playing modern basketball. Skill development and strategic gameplay are the key components of success, regardless of the team’s athleticism.

In fact, modern basketball can be a great equalizer for teams that are not as athletic. The focus on skill development, spacing, and decision-making can help level the playing field and create advantages even without superior athleticism.


Modern basketball at the high school level brings excitement, creativity, and skill development to the game. By focusing on player development, incorporating protection plans, and using KPIs, coaches can create a dynamic and effective playing style that benefits their team. Whether your team is highly athletic or not, the principles of modern basketball can be applied to any level of play. So go out there, embrace the modern style, and watch your team thrive on the court!

Get in the gym with Coach Cascio during his high school practices at or


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