After what seems like decade of establishing targets, recruiting and losing out on their point guard recruits, the Maryland coaching staff finally landed their man in Odessa Community College's Jaylen Brantley. The 5-11 Brantley is originally from Springfield, MA - the birthplace of basketball - and has taken a circuitous route to this point.
Over the course of his high school career, at Wilbraham & Monson Academy and Notre Dame Prep, he played for the BABC AAU team, one of the nations longest running and most prestigious programs. During his time running the offense for BABC he was teammates with such notable players as Nerlens Noel, Wayne Selden, Goodluck Okonoboh, Michael Carter-Williams, Georges Niang and Jake Layman. Not only did Brantley hold his own on such loaded teams, he was often one of the leaders of the team.
After reclassifying from the class of 2012 to 2013, he was rated a 4-star by 247Sports and the best player in the state of Massachusetts. Even while receiving interest and offers from such programs as Georgetown, Florida, Iowa State, UVA, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, he committed to Marshall. He spent a year as a member of the Thundering Herd, but didn't play due to grade issues. These issues led him to transferring to Odessa CC for the 2014-15 season, where they have reportedly been rectified and he will graduate in May. He committed to Maryland, his only offer to this point, but received interest from SMU, Indiana and Illinois.
Brantley is known for two things: shooting and running an offense. Let's first talk about the former.
BABC director Leo Papile says Maryland commit Jaylen Brantley & Dana Barros were the best shooters he's coached. Story coming.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) October 20, 2014
I tweeted this and wrote about it on Tuesday, but Dana Barros is one of the better pure shooters in the last 25ish years. He played for Boston College and then in the NBA for 14 years, shooting 41% from three and 46% from the field. Barros was also 5-11 and also a point guard. Nobody is saying Brantley and Barros will have the same career trajectory, and the Papile might just be blowing smoke, but he's coached a lot of great players and it's an interesting quote.
During his time at BABC, as mentioned before, Brantley was often the primary point guard and orchestrator of the offense. He was known as a smart decision maker and a good passer and distributor. He can play either guard position, but is closer to a pure point guard than a combo guard.
It remains to be seen exactly how he'll fit in at Maryland once he gets to campus, but we do know he'll be asked to be an immediate contributor. Freshman Melo Trimble will be handed the keys to the team as the starting point guard from day one this season, and may not relinquish the position for four years, so Brantley will have to fit around him. They have complimentary skill sets and could work together in the same backcourt, or Brantley might just slot in as the primary backup. One factor to keep in mind is that due to his lengthy path through the end of high school and eventually to Maryland, he'll be the age of a junior in his "freshman" season in College Park.
Finally, to get a quick take from a guy that's actually seen Brantley play, I reached out to Brad Winton (@JucoRecruiting), one of the industry's preeminent Junior College scouts. Here are his thoughts:
Jaylen Brantley is a scoring PG who shoots the ball well from the perimeter. He has the ability to stretch the floor with his range from three. He is tough to defend when coming off of ball screens. He has good foot speed/quickness and a solid handle. Defensively Brantley is a solid on ball defender who can keep the ball in front of him.