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Basketball

Biancalana, Braksick enter Hall of Fame

Al Biancalana is still in the thick of his career. Bill Braksick is far removed from his playing days.

But on Saturday, both were inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Biancalana is a long time NCAA and high school coach, while the 7-foot tall Braksick played for Flanagan and made back-to-back state tournaments in 1982 and 1983. Biancalana is currently coach at DeKalb after a 22-8 season with the Barbs, while Braksick is a Genoa resident who works in the Daily Chronicle's advertising department.

Biancalana, a product of Elmwood Park, said he was happy to be inducted in his home state.

"I'm extremely honored. It's always nice to be honored in such a way, especially in the state of Illinois," Biancalana said. "One thing my college experience has afforded me is to travel around the country and see all these other high school games in different states, and there's no question Illinois is one of the finest states for high school basketball."

Biancalana coached 18 years at the high school level in both Illinois and California. He won a state title in 1988 at Washington Union in Fresno, California, and was the state's coach of the year.

He also was an assistant at Bradley and Illinois-Chicago before coaching in DeKalb this year.

"I kind of find myself not thinking about the end," Biancalana said. "I know this award will mean much more when I have time to sit back and reflect upon your career. But the one thing I do know is that this wouldn't have happened if I wasn't surrounded by outstanding assistant coaches and great players throughout my career."

Braksick said always enjoys reuniting with former coach Jerry Pohl – also a member of the hall as a player – and other former teammates.

Braksick played three years at Illinois State and one at Illinois Wesleyan after reaching back-to-back state tournaments in high school.

His size, he said, was obviously a benefit – especially at the Class A level. At the time, IHSA boys basketball was divided into Class A and Class AA. 

"It helped. It definitely helped," Braksick laughed. "We ran into, day to day in the conference, we were playing a lot of small towns and they don't tend to grow them my size. But usually I'd play against a 6-4, 6-5 center. Most towns had someone like that, and there was good basketball played down around that area."

Braksick credited Pohl and his teammates for his success, and likewise Biancalana said it was his players and assistant coaches who have played for and assisted him. He said 17 of his assistants have gone to head coaching gigs, and couldn't remember how many future NCAA Division I players he coached – other than it was a lot.

"When your surrounded by that much talent," he said, "good things are bound to happen for you."

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