COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M head coach Buzz Williams has hired 34-year coaching veteran Steve Roccaforte as an assistant coach, it was announced Tuesday.
Roccaforte (PRONOUNCED: rock-uh-fort) worked for Williams previously for four years at Virginia Tech, three as an assistant and one as associate head coach. Roccaforte comes to Aggieland after spending the last three seasons at East Carolina as an associate head coach under Joe Dooley.
“Coach Roc is an important addition to our program,” Williams said. “He is a tireless and effective recruiter, and as a native Texan, has strong basketball relationships across our state. He brings high energy and loves to teach the game. As a former head coach with more than 30 years of Division 1 experience, he knows the formula to help develop players on and off the floor, and understands what it takes to win. He has been on our staff before, so he understands our culture, and will have immediate traction with our staff and student-athletes.”
Known nationally as a tireless recruiter and enthusiastic floor coach, Roccaforte helped the Hokies earn back-to-back NCAA Tournament at-large bids in 2017 and 2018 and post three consecutive 20-win seasons (2015-18). He also helped the Hokies win 10 ACC games in three consecutive seasons for the first time since joining the conference in 2004.
Roccaforte joined the coaching staff at Virginia Tech following three years as an assistant coach at South Florida. He played a large role in USF getting a top-15 recruiting class for both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons and helped the Bulls advance to the round of 32 in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Consistently toward the top of the list, he was ranked as the 23rd best assistant coach in the country that season.
Prior to USF, Roccaforte was the head coach at his alma mater, Lamar University, for five seasons after serving as an assistant coach at Lamar (2003-06), Memphis (2000-03), Wyoming (1998-00), Tulane (1994-98) and Centenary (1989-94) to begin his career.
Roccaforte has worked with some of the top coaches in the business and has recruited some of the top talent in the country. He has served under national coaches of the year in John Calipari, Perry Clark and Billy Tubbs to develop multiple nationally-ranked recruiting classes.
Roccaforte helped assemble top 20 recruiting classes at seven institutions, including the nation’s top-rated class at Memphis in 2001. He also aided in the construction of a pair of top 10 classes at Lamar, three additional top 15 classes at Memphis, USF and East Carolina and three top-25 groups at both Tulane and Virginia Tech. In total, Roccaforte has facilitated 14 top-25 units, including four top-10. According to former ESPN Senior Recruiting Analyst and current San Antonio Spurs Director of Player Personnel Dave Telep, Roccaforte is one of the 25 hardest-working coaches in the nation as well as one of the top 15 recruiters in the country.
During his career, Roccaforte has coached, signed or received commitments from 29 future NBA players including six-time All-Star Amare Stoudemire and Kendrick Perkins, member of the 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics, along with first-round draft picks Dejuan Wagner, Antonio Burks, Qyntel Wood, Rodney Carney, Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Additionally, Roccaforte coached current NBA star Mike James (Brooklyn Nets) during his stint as the head coach at Lamar.
Roccaforte is also no stranger to postseason play, having served on the staff of eight teams that extended their seasons. He has been to five NCAA Tournaments, two with Virginia Tech and one with USF, Tulane, and Memphis along with NIT appearances at Tulane, Wyoming, Memphis and Virginia Tech. Tulane advanced to the NIT Final Four at Madison Square Garden in 1996. He helped Memphis reach MSG in 2001, win the NIT title in 2002 and advance to the NCAA Tournament in 2003 for the first time in seven years.
In all, Roccaforte’s teams have made 11 postseason appearances with the Hokies’ 2018 NCAA appearance being the most recent.
Roccaforte finally got his chance to be a head coach after Tubbs resigned his post at Lamar to focus on his Director of Athletics duties in March 2006.
In his five seasons, Lamar was a sparkling 55-20 at home in the Montagne Center and guided LU to its first SLC regular-season championship in 28 years in his second season with an impressive 13-3 conference mark. During the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, Lamar registered 20 consecutive home victories. He coached nine all-conference selections at Lamar.
The 2007-08 season featured a number of impressive streaks and great players. Among them were a 14-2 home record, a school-record six-consecutive conference road victories and the eighth-largest home crowd in school history. Lamar ranked eighth in the nation in scoring offense (81.5 ppg) and in the top 50 in both field goal percentage (46.9) and 3-point field goal percentage (38.2).
For his efforts, Roccaforte was named the 2007-08 Southland Conference Coach of the Year. Seniors Lamar Sanders and Kenny Dawkins were both named first team All-SLC, with Dawkins matching his teammate as SLC Newcomer of the Year. The success of that season led to a top-25 ranking in the mid-major poll the following year. Lamar ranked 12th in the NCAA in assists at 17.3 per game, 31st in 3-pointers made per game (8.3) and 52nd in 3-point percentage (.379).
Individually, Sanders led the SLC, and ranked 12th in the NCAA, in rebounding at 9.8 per game. The Cardinals set a new single-season school record for 3-point attempts (702) and posted the second-best mark in 3-pointers made (266).
Academics are a high priority for Roccaforte as evidenced by the fact that Lamar’s increase in Academic Progress Rate (APR) was among the best in the country. Lamar’s APR moved up 101 spots to No. 20 in the country during Roccaforte’s tenure. Nineteen of 20 seniors earned their degrees while he was the head coach as did 100 percent of the seniors at USF from 2011 to 2014.
During his four years at Tulane, the Green Wave consistently ranked among the top-25 recruiting classes in the nation and included an All-America and seven All-Conference USA selections. The final recruiting class that he helped sign was ranked eighth nationally.
Roccaforte helped lead the Green Wave to three consecutive 20-win seasons during his tenure (1994-97). The Green Wave advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round in 1995, the NIT Final Four in 1996 and made another NIT appearance in 1997. The program also captured Conference USA Red Division titles in 1995-96 and 1996-97.
He earned his Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree from Lamar in 1989. He has two daughters, Victoria Elise and Sofia Rose, and a son, Lucien Anthony.