Name: Jamal Branch
2012 Season Stats:
Prognostication: Jamal Branch is thought to be a true point guard. That thinking will prove to be interesting this season as he will be battling Rysheed Jordan for minutes at that position. Luckily for Branch, though, Jordan is a capable scorer and we could end up seeing the two of them on the floor at the same time.
Only one of them will start, however. The guy who doesn’t, though, won’t be cast off to the side. Fully expect Steve Lavin to juggle rotations early on, but don’t expect Branch to ever fall out of the coach’s favor.
Strengths: Branch does a solid job controlling the tempo on offense. Think of him as an extension of Lavin on the floor and a sometimes D’Angelo Harrison calmer-down guy.
One of the Red Storm’s better defenders, Branch uses his big-build-for-a-point-guard size to his advantage. Also, while he is not incredibly efficient while putting the ball in the basket, Branch has shown glimpses of scoring brilliance.
Weaknesses: Like a lot of the other “lesser” known St. John’s players, Jamal Branch could be a better, more consistent scorer. Branch never eclipsed over 20 points in a game last season, although, he was never asked to be the primary bucket-maker. Plus, shooting .176 from three is flat-out unacceptable.
Another aspect of his game — that is often overlooked — is Branch’s tendency to turn the ball over. In 18 games last season Branch turned the ball over 32 times. When comparing that to his 46 assists, it does make one question his ability to play smart basketball. Still, to be fair to Branch, he did enter the season late and didn’t have the non-conference schedule to help him adjust to playing with his teammates.
Personal Note: I really like Branch’s game. I honestly feel like his numbers don’t highlight him as a player in the correct way. Even though I just ragged on his tendency to turn the ball over and essentially questioned his basketball IQ, there are few point guards in the Big East who are better equipped to regularly handle the rock.
Random, but neat Jamal Branch Factoid: According to Red Storm Reports, Branch is a fan of Drake. So, um, there is that.
Joseph is the editor of Storm The Paint. Follow him on the mean streets of Twitter @JosephNardone