Dan Masino, Fairport High’s slick sophomore point guard, has been described as “the whole package.”
That package would include averaging 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals on the court for another strong Scott Fitch-coached Red Raiders team looking to make a long post-season run.
Off the court, it would include a 98 average in the classroom and a humble nature that has him constantly deflecting credit for his success to teachers, coaches, his teammates and his family.
Oh yes, about that family.
Dan Masino is the latest apple to fall from one of Rochester’s great basketball family trees, whose roots are as strong as they come.
Dan’s grandfather, Al Masino, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 78, played for the old Rochester Royals of the NBA and is a member of the Section V Hall of Fame as a player, coach, official and all-around good guy. He’s one of the few people to win sectional titles as a player, at East High in 1946 as the leading scorer for the famed “Miracle Kids,” and as a coach in 1964 for a Cinderella-story Eastridge High squad.
The other Masino basketball tree branches young Dan can swing from include his dad, Mike, who starred at Eastridge High for his father and went on to become Hobart College’s career scoring leader and a Division III All-American; his brother, Joe, who also started at Fairport and is now a valuable sixth man sophomore guard at Ithaca College; and sister Carlie, a senior at Fairport, who played on an undefeated JV team.
And let’s not leave out Uncle Al Jr., who also played varsity ball at Eastridge, and Aunt Lisa Turchetti, a veteran physical education teacher and girls’ basketball coach in the city who played at MCC.
“Basketball has been the string that has tied our generations, that’s for sure,” said Mike Masino, whose wife, Kathy, has been his backcourt partner in life. “My father was my coach at Eastridge and we had an unbelievable bond. Unfortunately, he passed away when my kids were young but I’ve tried to pass that same bond that we had on. It’s been something special that has kept us close through the years.”
After starring at Canisius College when hoops was king in Buffalo during the Little Three Era, Al Masino went on to play two years in the rough-and-tumble NBA of the 1950s.
For years, he ran a popular basketball camp with friend and Naismith Hall of Famer Al Cervi. And if you want to gain a sense of the impact Al Masino had during a nearly four decade career in education and coaching at Eastridge, know that the court, a tournament and student-athlete award are named in his honor.
Dan was just 7 when his grandfather died. But he remembers his voice and his smile. And a smile comes to his face whenever an old-timer who has watched him play and recognizes his name comes up and shares a story about Grandpa Al.
“I wish I could’ve gotten to know him better and that he got to watch me play, but honestly, the part that makes me happy is that I’m able to carry on his name, and that my dad was and my brother was,” Dan Masino said. “That’s what I’m most proud of.”
Watching old films or leafing through family albums, scrapbooks and doing research on the Internet helps Dan connect the dots through 70 years of family basketball history. Yes, it’s cool to see “Masino” in NBA reference material.
“It’s very humbling,” he said. “I know it was a long time ago, but every kid has that dream, and my Grandpa made it a reality. It makes me proud of my ancestors.”
Being the youngest member of this basketball royal family — as well as running a team’s offense at age 15 — does come with pressure. But, to steal a line from the late Stuart Scott, Dan Masino is as cool as the other side of the pillow.
He’s one of just three players in Fairport history (Corey Magee and Dave Rizzo are the others) to play on the varsity as freshmen, and he’s made this next transition seamless.
“Dan is mature beyond his years in every way — physically, mentally and work ethic,” Fitch said. “He just competes very hard. I’m excited that I get to coach him two more years.”
Fitch, the 1993 Division III Player of the Year at Geneseo, was inducted into the Section V Hall of Fame with his dad, 400-win coach Jeff, in 2002 — the same year as Al Masino. For Scott, coaching Masino’s two grandsons has been a career blessing.
As for Mike and Kathy Masino, they’re excited knowing they have many years yet to watch their sons play. There have been nights when Mike has attended one of Dan’s Fairport games with a headset on catching the live stream of one of Joe’s Ithaca games on his mobile device. That’s the very definition of a basketball junkie —and a loving dad.
“We just have basketball in our blood,” Mike said.
Apparently, Al Masino himself spotted something special in Dan when he was in the first and second grade.
“I remember him saying, ‘This kid better be a player,’ ” Mike recalled. “The old patriarch knew. Dan’s a gifted athletic kid and he has a great work ethic. More than anything, he stays pretty humble. I tell the kids things that my father taught me.”
Mike, a partner at Harris Beach law firm, has been Dan’s AAU coach since second grade. Combine that with Fitch’s coaching style that also stresses fundamentals and Dan Masino is proof that “old school” still works. Mike beams when someone says to him, “Your dad would love how your son Dan plays.”
“The big criticism of the NBA and high-level Division 1 athletes are lack of fundamentals,” Mike said. “So yeah, it’s a great compliment when someone says your kid plays old-school, hard-nosed basketball.”
Dan, who had a 6-inch growth spurt before his freshman year and now stands 6-1, was a fine baseball and football player, too, but now concentrates on hoops. There are days when Fitch sends him text messages “Stay out of the gym and rest!”
But for Dan Masino, preparation is the best antidote for pressure.
“With my dad, grandfather and brother having so much success, yes, there’s pressure but I’ve also grown up in it,” said Dan, who credits pickup games against his older brother and his friends with toughening him up for varsity.
“Basketball has been such a big part of my life, it’s almost second nature to shoot jump shots or dribble. It wasn’t like it was forced on me, either, I just genuinely love it. Getting all that extra work in and having such great people around me helping me out all the time, it really takes a lot of that pressure off. When you’re prepared, I don’t think you have anything to be scared of.”
Dan would like to carry on the Masino family tradition and play college basketball at the highest level he can. But that day can wait. Winning a Section V title to add to those won by his grandfather would truly be a circle of life. The Red Raiders lost to Greece Athena in last season’s AA final.
“I’m closing in on 50 and I’ve never lost the passion for the game that my father instilled in me when I was young,” said Mike Masino, who attended NBA Hall of Fame inductions with his dad and sat at the Rochester Royals table to see the likes of Bill Bradley, Walt Frazier, Nate Thurmond, Billy Cunningham, Bobby Wanzer, Red Holzman and Cervi enshrined. “I’m just so thrilled that this passion for the game is being carried on by my two sons.”
The apples don’t fall far from the tree.