John DiBartolomeo ‘13 first burst onto the scene during his freshman year at UR in the 2009-10 Wendy’s College Classic Tournament, when he went off for 30 points, nine rebounds, and five steals against fourth-ranked Roberts Wesleyan College. Over the course of his four years, he became one of the best players in UR Men’s Basketball (URBB) history.
Statistically, his play placed him near the top of many career lists—he recorded 1,779 points (the third most in URBB history), 533 assists (second all-time), 201 steals (second all-time), and 520 free throws (second all-time).
Last Sunday, DiBartolomeo was inducted into the Wendy’s College Classic Hall of Fame, and was honored before the start of his former team’s matchup against Brandeis University, where his parents accepted the plaque on his behalf. DiBartolomeo is currently playing professionally for Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Basketball Premier League.
“He was probably one of the most driven players I have ever coached,” current URBB Coach Luke Flockerzi said. “He was always a team-first guy […] he was always very quiet and humble.”
Flockerzi began coaching the team in 2010 at the beginning of DiBartolomeo’s sophomore year.
DiBartolomeo’s humble attitude, though an admirable trait, initially prevented him from taking additional shots that could have helped the team further. He was a lights-out shooter, hitting 3-pointers at a 45.8 percent clip by his senior season, while making over 90 percent of his free throws.
“John would rather dish out ten assists in a game than score 30 points in a game,” Flockerzi said. “If there was one weakness in his game, it was that we constantly had to keep persuading him to be more aggressive in scoring the ball and convince him that he was better than he gave himself credit for.”
This push by the coaching staff paid off, as DiBartolomeo’s scoring average increased every year, capped by a senior year in which he averaged 22.6 points per game, to go with 5.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.0 steals a game. His play helped fuel URBB’s 18–0 start and earned him Division III Player of the Year honors from D3Hoops.com and DIIINews.
The highlight of not only that season, but possibly his career, came in the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament, in which he torched Fitchburg State University for 42 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
Overall, DiBartolomeo led Rochester to two NCAA Tournament appearances and took them to the Sweet 16 during his sophomore year, when he earned the first of his two UAA Most Valuable Player awards (the other coming during his senior year).
Currently, DiBartolomeo is averaging 11.6 points per game in the top-tier ISBL, with shooting percentages within the prestigious 50-40-90 range. He punctuated his season in December against Hapoel Eilat, producing 35 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 steals against a team that was the league runner-up a season ago.
Playing on Maccabi Haifa has also allowed him to go toe-to-toe with NBA competition, as teams from the respective leagues sometimes schedule exhibition games between each other. In 2015, he got the opportunity to play against the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers in their home arenas. The latter game saw him play alongside NBA legend Kobe Bryant, even guarding him for a play.
DiBartolomeo has upped his scoring and role with the team all three seasons with Maccabi Haifa, just as he did at UR. If this trend continues, there’s no telling where his ceiling is.