Friday, February 26, 2010


Raiders' Brantley makes living beyond 3-point line
by: Adam Rosenberg


NICEVILLE — At the most opportune of moments, Sherrard Brantley sneaks into the corner and waits.
As point guard Brian Bryant dribbles to the lane or Toby Veal handles the ball in the post, Brantley remains in his domain beyond the 3-point line. Then, in one quick motion, Brantley catches an outlet pass and sends a perfectly-arching shot toward the basket.

Almost half the time this season, those arcs have fallen for points. Brantley is, according to Northwest Florida State College men’s basketball coach Bruce Stewart, “the best catch-and-shoot shooter in the country.” It’s a scene that was repeated 94 times this season for Brantley, the 6-foot-2 shooting guard from Dublin, Ga., who shot almost 43 percent from beyond the arc for the Raiders. Brantley’s remarkable consistency and steadfast willingness to shoot in any situation made life miserable for opponents all season. Those qualities also led to Brantley being named the Panhandle Conference’s Freshman of the Year.

“It feels good,” Brantley said of winning the award. “We’ve done a lot of work starting when I first got here. It seems like it’s paying off now.”

In a conference where every NWF State opponent had the motivation and capability of knocking the Raiders off, Brantley routinely delivered daggers. When an opponent made a run, Brantley delivered a demoralizing 3-pointer to silence them.

However, it would be unfair to call Brantley a “big-time” or “clutch” shooter. The fact is, Brantley seems to be able to make shots in any situation.

“He has a knack for making shots, period,” Stewart said. “That’s a gift and he has it. Some people can shoot and shoot, but they’re never going to be a good shooter.”

Brantley averaged 14 points per game while playing extensive minutes for the Raiders in the regular season. While he may shoot as well or better than anyone in the league or the country, there are still holes in his game that he’s working to fill.

Stewart has already been getting calls from Division-I schools about Brantley, but both player and coach agree that Brantley needs some seasoning before he’s ready for the next level. The consensus between Brantley and his coach is that his ballhandling and defense must improve.

“The higher up you go, you have to guard better people,” Stewart said. “If he improves that and his ability to handle the ball and go to the basket, he’ll be a very good Division-I player because he already has the offensive ability.”

Beyond his tangible abilities, Brantley brings a hunger to the Raiders that could pay off down the stretch. Brantley won a Georgia Class 2A state championship with Dublin High, scoring 15 points in the championship game as a senior. He said that experience gave him a taste of what winning a title is all about, which could come in handy as the Raiders prepare for the FCCAA state tournament.

“When your season ends early in high school and then you make it to college, you don’t know what it feels like to play at this time of year,” Brantley said. “I think that’s why we’re so hungry right now.”

© Copyright 2010 Freedom Communications. All Rights Reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment