Brandan Kearney of Southeastern High School in Detroit, a signed member of MSUâ€™s Class of 2011, has put a lot of time in to get to where he is today. Long before he was blessed with his lengthy 6â€™6â€ frame, he was in the gym working tirelessly on the fundamentals of the point guard position. Derrick Kearney, Brandanâ€™s father, recently told Spartan Nation that was the vision he had for his son: to learn to take care of the ball and to develop a sound perimeter game from an early age. He told us that while his son first started out in little league, he couldnâ€™t be sure how tall he was likely to be, but having a player that could take care of the ball and be unselfish, would always be in demand. Since Brandon was eight years old, Derrick has helped nurture and cultivate that â€œvisionâ€ for his son, and it has no doubt come to pass.
Brandan Kearney is not your typical nationally acclaimed â€œblue chipâ€ prospect. Heâ€™s not the flashiest player, or the statistically most gaudy, but those who have followed him closely, know he is indeed something special. His ceiling is somewhere in the upper stratosphere, and he seems to get closer to that potential each week. Declining offers from Ohio State and Michigan (among many others) to sign with Izzo, MSU has locked up, in our opinion one of the most intriguing players in the entire 2011 class at-large.
Brandanâ€™s intrigue is largely built upon a seemingly paradoxical set of attributes. He possesses great size for a wing, yet at 180 pounds surely needs to add strength and weight for Big Ten Conference play. Heâ€™s spent a lot of time running the point and dishing out assists to teammates, but is now being asked to become more aggressive and develop the added dimension of a smooth stroking shooting guard. He considers defense to be of utmost importance in the game, but it is something that he is constantly working on and improving. Heâ€™s worked relentlessly on his game since a small child, but due to his high floor IQ, heâ€™s hardly yet tapped his true potential as a complete basketball player. And thatâ€™s got Tom Izzo and the rest of the Spartan Nation extremely excited to get him in the Green and White next season.
Brandanâ€™s father, Derrick, had this to say on the development of the â€œpoint guard plus shooting guard packageâ€ Brandan is growing into. â€œIf you watch little league basketball, if youâ€™re the point guard, normally the kids arenâ€™t strong enough or they are going to do one of two things, theyâ€™re either going to lose the ball or theyâ€™re going to shoot it. Thatâ€™s why I made sure Brandan played out front. Now theyâ€™re asking him to score on the wingâ€¦as heâ€™s starting to develop and score now, heâ€™s got both packages. Thatâ€™s what makes him special. And now heâ€™s getting more aggressive. Thatâ€™s what Izzo wanted to see from him last summer and now heâ€™s getting more assertive. Heâ€™s doing that now, and everybody is going to see his productivity this yearâ€”without injury anythingâ€”itâ€™ll go up. Heâ€™ll still have that high I.Q. where if youâ€™re open youâ€™re gonna get the ball.â€
Brandan is already a very good prospect at the highest level of college basketball. But Tom Izzoâ€™s Spartan Program is widely known as a beast all its own. It is extremely demanding and places a great deal of emphasis on sound defensive scheme play and structured offensive half-court sets, both require a grace period for incoming freshmen to adapt to. And when we at Spartan Nation spoke with Brandan, he was already at work transitioning his game into what Izzo would have him working towards, long before he steps foot on campus.
â€œI definitely want to get stronger. I want to become a better defensive player, a better on-ball defensive player.â€
We asked just how much weight he and Izzo are hoping for before his MSU days.Â
â€œBy the time I get to Michigan State, I want to try my best to get to like 195 pounds.â€ He added too, that his mother was a very good cook, so we have little room to doubt the feat can and will be accomplished.
Curious as to what Brandon would list as his best on court attributes, he stated for us, â€œmake my teammates betterâ€¦and Iâ€™m a passer.â€
And thereâ€™s little doubting that despite being 6â€™6,â€ his passing skills are often elite at times. He can thread a needle in a crowded lane, and he can flip a dime to an open man on the perimeter after cutting into the paint. Heâ€™s played on teams where he is clearly the best player on the court and heâ€™s shined as an incredibly unselfish player even in those situations. Upon coming to MSU he will be on the court with four other teammates all as highly touted and skilled as he is. His genuine unselfish demeanor could be a potent prescription for success once the offensive sets are learned.
When it comes to Brandan as a person we would be remiss not to mention our excitement to land a recruit with his personality and character. Itâ€™s easy for a person to crow about their own character, but Spartan Nation received first hand a poignant statement from an educator at Brandanâ€™s school. That teacher relayed that if Brandan hadnâ€™t been blessed with the tremendous basketball skills, he likely would excel as a school counselor.
When we brought this to his attention Brandan explained, â€œIâ€™m just a loving type of person who wants to see others do better.â€
Derrick attributed Brandanâ€™s empathetic demeanor to the strength and closeness between himself, his wife, all his three children, and his extended family at large.
So, we asked Brandan just what his family means to him. â€œThey mean the world to me. Without them Iâ€™d be nothing. Without them pushing me, making me do things I donâ€™t want to do, Iâ€™d be nothing. I thank them a lot and I love them a lot.
And the topic of family gets a little interesting, if not surprising, for this Spartan to be. Derrick Kearney told us that his role model and mentor for a smooth father-son relationship is due in large part to his first cousin, and former UofM football player Stanley Edwards. That father-son relationship Derrick was hoping to emulate was between Stanley and –none other than former Wolverine great and current NFL player– Braylon Edwards. So by the time the phone started ringing off the hook for Brandanâ€™s recruitment, thankfully, Derrick had seen the situation play out before with Braylon and his father. And that, believe it or not, can be a tremendous advantage.
Derrick certainly handled his sonâ€™s recruitment well, not attempting to relive the process vicariously– as Derrick played DI basketball as well– but always kept the focus on Brandan, and appropriately left him squarely in the decision process at all times; a surprisingly rare occurrence these days.
We asked Derrick if he had any advice for the parents of potential recruits. â€œFirst of all be humble, just stay the same as they are.â€
We here at Spartan Nation hope Brandan himself stays the same and remains a compassionate and family centered individual even as he endures the eventual rigors of Izzoâ€™s Green Machine. His game could certainly grow into something very special, possibly filling that unique– often vacantâ€” elite niche which requires a remarkably versatile wing. Â We are very excited to get him in the Green and White, and you better believe heâ€™s just as excited as we are.
We asked the future Spartan just how difficult it is going to be watching MSU play this season without him on the court. â€œItâ€™s gonna be real hard, real exciting. Itâ€™s gonna be like if they loseâ€¦itâ€™s gonna be like I just lost the game.â€
If it looks like a Spartan, plays like a Spartan, and sounds like a Spartanâ€¦well yeah, heâ€™s a Spartan, no doubt.
And in conclusion we wanted to know just what being a Spartan meant to him.
â€œIt means a lot. It means you worked really hard to get where youâ€™re at. It just means youâ€™ve been working real real hardâ€¦and itâ€™s a dream come true.â€
See you soon Brandan.