October 30, 2015
On Thursday, 61-year-old Phil Martelli received a contract extension from Saint Joseph’s. The Daily News’ Dick Jerardi, who has covered Hawk Hill better than any reporter over his career, summed up the move well by writing, “He will most likely continue coaching at SJU until he no longer wants to coach.”
This got me thinking about the upcoming season: To kick off his contract extension, Martelli will coach one the most talented players in his 20-year tenure: 6-foot-6 junior swingman DeAndre’ Bembry, owner of the best Afro in college hoops and poised to submit a huge season.
Now only a couple of weeks away from the season, Villanova should have the best team in the City Six by quite a bit but probably not the best player (*cue everyone at ‘Nova loudly disagreeing*). CBS Sports, which has some of the best online college hoops coverage, ranked Bembry as the 22nd best player in the nation:
Bembry is one of the best do-it-all players in America. He finished in the top-15 of the Atlantic 10 in seven statistical categories, including scoring which he led by averaging 17.8 points. He's a genuine NBA draft prospect, and one that should lead the Hawks to a better season this time around.
The folks at College Basketball Talk are lower on Bembry. Over there, he’s only ranked 28th in the country:
And over at ESPN, Dick Vitale took a break from his award-winning Periscope career to tab Bembry as his Preseason Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. Along with La Salle’s Jordan Price, he was selected as a member of the preseason All-Conference Team.
Bembry’s rise is pretty cool, not an everyday occurrence at his proud program. Last season, he averaged 17.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.0 steals for a Hawks team that went a disappointing 13-18. Bembry legitimately did it all for Martelli’s team as just a sophomore after starting on a conference champion as a frosh.
For his career, Bembry is shooting 33 percent from beyond the arc. One area that Martelli wants to see his star pupil, voted captain for a second straight year, improve is his jumper. From ZagsBlog:
“The areas of focus with Deandre’ since last spring have been his shooting stroke. He’s got a nice shooting stroke, it’s inconsistent. His foul shooting numbers (64 percent last season), everybody that looks at those scratches their head because a player of his ability and a player with that kind of work ethic should not have the shooting percentages from the foul line that he does.”
If Bembry tightens up his shot, he will likely join former teammate Langston Galloway in the NBA sooner rather than later. And maybe, in the meantime, he can help the Hawks rebound from last season.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann