JACKSONVILLE – Brandone Francis (6-6, 210, La Romana, Dominican Republic/Jacksonville, FL Arlington Country Day) was searching for a silver lining in Arlington Country Day’s 93-74 loss to the Providence Stallions at the University of North Florida Arena Saturday night.
“Losing just really sucks,” Francis said after finishing the night with 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals. “I hate to lose but sometimes losing makes you focus on what you need to do to get better.”
From a team standpoint, Arlington Country Day needs to get better at passing the basketball. The Apaches let the game get out of control in the third quarter when whoever got the first pass once the ball crossed midcourt either launched or went hell bent for the rim. That happened 11 straight times to start a quarter in which Francis was able to get only one shot.
Francis, a Florida signee who has grown to 6-6 and weighs in at 210, wasn’t so concerned with his lack of shots as much as he was with his defense.
“That’s got to improve,” he said. “I didn’t do very much on defense tonight and I’m better than that. I have to get better than that. If I want to play next year for Coach (Billy) Donovan, I better play defense better than I did tonight.”
Francis actually played better defense than his teammates, who struggled all night to stop Providence’s tandem of Duke-bound Grayson Allen (6-4, 190, Jacksonville, FL Providence), who finished with 34 points, six rebounds, four assists and Christian Terrell (6-5, 185, Jacksonville, FL Providence), a Florida Gulf Coast signee who scored 23 of his 32 points in the second half.
Arlington Country Day led, 42-34, at the half. In the first two quarters, the Apaches found ways to share the ball and get the ball in the hands of their scorers – Francis and Oklahoma-bound Dante Buford (6-8, 210, Jacksonville, FL Arlington Country Day).
What happened in the second half is no mystery to Francis.
“We came out like we thought they were going to give up,” Francis said. “We played like we already had the game won. That’s a good team. They played harder than we did in the third quarter. They wanted it and we just didn’t do much at all. It’s really disappointing to have a game like this.”
BRANDONE FRANCIS: At the rate he is growing – an inch and a half since the summer – Francis could see 6-7 or 6-8 before he ever gets to college. He’s a legitimate three-position player at the next level. His natural position is on the wing but he’s a good enough ball handler that he could absorb 7-10 minutes a game at the point.
Where Francis excels is putting the ball on the deck and using an explosive first step to get to the rim. He had three exceptional drives to the hoop in the first half, two of which he drew the contact and finished.
“I can handle the contact,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me because I’m pretty good about staying focused and getting the shot off.”
Although he went 0-4 on three-pointers, he definitely has the range and the good shooting mechanics. Where he’s got a chance to really excel at the next level is as a slasher who pulls up and knocks down mid-range jumpers.
GRAYSON ALLEN: After a so-so first half shooting the ball, Allen was on radar-lock in the second half, knocking down 6-7 from the field, but what wowed the crowd of 2,853 was his explosiveness off the dribble. In the third quarter Allen went baseline, curled under the hoop and then cupped the ball for a high-rise dunk that brought the biggest ovation of the night. Allen had three dunks.
Allen squares up nicely when he shoots the ball from the outside although he was only 1-4 from the three-point line. He has a tendency to go right nearly every time, something that will have to improve before he gets to the next level.
CHRISTIAN TERRELL: The high majors missed the mark on this skinny lefty with serious elevation. He’s an active defender with long arms who it seems gets his hand on nearly every loose ball. As high as he gets on his drives to the rim, he’s rather pedestrian on his jumper – his toes hardly leave the ground. He’ll be a strong two-guard at the next level, but could play some small forward if he adds some strength. Probably the biggest hole in his game right now is physical strength, but he’s got a frame that could easily add another 25 pounds.