Only in the case of DeAndre’ Bembry is it conceivable that playing 37.5 minutes per game (1oth most in the nation) is a decrease in action from last year. That’s right, despite being the second most played player in the conference, Bembry is actually getting on average 1.1 more minutes of bench time per contest than the year prior.
Perhaps this speaks to the junior’s value to the Hawks, who are trying to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014. St. Joseph’s is currently 12-3, with a 2-1 record in conference play, and will need to continue their winning habits if they want in come Selection Sunday. Our latest bracketology rankings have the Hawks as “on the bubble”, but with much potential remaining to make a serious run at the tourney. And if one thing is certain, they’re not going to do it without a considerable contribution from Bembry.
At 6-6, 210 lbs he may be built more like a pro-style shooting guard than a forward. However, his pure versatility in and around the rim is enough to make him one of the most feared offensive threats in the conference. Behind Bembry’s signature afro lies an intelligent basketball mind, one that is driving him to become one of the best players in the conference.
“I’m not going to say I’m just the best player in the league,” he said last season after a stellar double-double performance against La Salle. “But I try to be the best player every game and a lot of games have proven it, but, different people say different things.”
Others have taken notice as well, including UMass head coach Derek Kellogg.
“[Bembry]’s probably the most valuable player in the league and maybe in the country,” he said following Bembry’s career-high 33-point, 14-rebound performance against the Minutemen last season. “He really dominated the game from a lot of different aspects. I think he’s pretty close to the best player in our league. The two times we’ve played him, he looks like a guy who can play at the next level.”
Looking closely at the numbers, it may look like Bembry has decreased his production from last season, dropping in PPG from 17.7 to 16.7. However, upon further examination, Bembry has actually increased his APG from 3.6 to 4.5, for what equals out as a positive points differential. The buckets he would have scored last season are now transferred to teammates around him. This demonstrates his true development as a complete basketball player that can help his team in more than one-dimension.
After 16, 17 and 22 point performances (along with 6, 8 and 10 assists), Bembry is off to a hot start in A10 play yet again. The Hawks get George Mason and Fordham this week as they try to roll their way back into tournament contention. And if Bembry keeps playing the way he does, St. Joe’s will be back dancing this March.