I had the opportunity to exchange emails with Oak-Hill Academy basketball coach Steve Smith the other day. I wanted to get his thoughts on former Oak-Hiller Brandon Jennings and his transition to the NBA. His schedule was pretty tight so I appreciate him taking the time to answer a few questions for me.
When Brandon played at Oak Hill he averaged over 30 points per game, but has largely been praised for having great passing instincts. Kevin Love recently said Jennings is one of the only guys he’s ever played with who sees things before they happen. What were your first impressions of him and how did he improve in his year at Oak Hill? What sort of mold do you see him developing as an NBA point guard, a scorer or setup man?
Brandon played here for 2 years – 11th & 12th grade. Brandon has always been very competitive and intense on the floor. He is a great athlete with exceptional strength for his size. In his 2 yrs at OH he improved in every area: maturity, leadership, gauging the game to know when to push it and when to slow down. He is a Nate Archibald or Kenny Anderson type player.
Rod Strickland, Steve Blake, Rajon Rondo, Jeff McGinnis, a lot of notable alumni have played the point guard position at Oak Hill. Each player has their own styles and skills but does Jennings strike you as being similar to any of the other guys who’ve come through?
Brandon does not fit the mold of any of our great, past point guards. As I just said, he is more a Nate A. or K. Anderson type.
It takes a special kind of player and special kind of person to do what Brandon did when he moved to Europe to play for a year. Every person is different and what he did may not work for others, with regard to Brandon as a player do you see that as being beneficial for him? Has it resulted in more maturity?
Brandon matured as a player and a person. He went from being a teenager to a man in a short period of time. But he is still Brandon – fun & full of life.
Will Brandon be able to come in and make an impact in his first year in the league? Or will it take some time?
It might take sometime to adjust but Brandon should be able to contribute as a rookie. He is a very cerebral player.
Last question will be simple. Just finish this statement for me. In ten years Brandon Jennings will be …
In 10 years Brandon should be an experienced pro player leading an NBA team from the point guard position.
One thing that stood out to me in Coach Smith’s answers was that he commented on Jennings strength. That has long been something people have wondered about, would Jennings be strong enough with his slight frame to hold up to the rigors of the NBA game. It’s possible to be strong without looking very strong, so it’s good to hear that Jennings might be one of those guys. Again, kudos to Coach Smith for taking some time to answer my questions.