College of Charleston’s Brantley named CAA Rookie of the Week

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CAA Block 281

The future is bright for Colonial Athletic Association basketball.

While veterans fill most rosters this season, there are also several freshmen who have made an instant impact.

Patrick Johnson, Jay Bell and I had a chance to watch College of Charleston’s Jarrell Brantley in action Saturday night as he helped his squad to a 66-62 win at Elon.

Brantley, 6-7, 245 pounds, poses a serious matchup issue at the power forward position. He can face the basket and drive, post up on the low block and power through defenders or even occasionally step beyond-the-arc and knock down a 3-pointer. He’s also a tough, tenacious rebounder who creates second chance opportunities for himself and teammates by outworking opponents on the offensive glass. Brantley had 20 points and nine rebounds against the Phoenix and earned CAA Rookie of the Week honors.

Brantley and his teammates will be in action on HSRN on Saturday night, when they entertain first place UNC Wilmington in the Cougars final home game of the regular season.

Of course, he’s not the CAA’s only precocious rookie.

Elon forward Tyler Seibring, 6-8, 225 pounds, is also having a terrific season. Seibring scored 35 points on 14 of 19 shooting in his team’s two losses last week. In both games he was always in the right place, never forced the action and took shots within the flow of the offense. Against the College of Charleston, the Phoenix could have worked harder to make sure Seibring touched the ball on each possession down the stretch. Instead they forgot about him just long enough to thwart their comeback.

Both players are locks to make the CAA All-Freshmen team, which will be announced during the conference tournament, March 4-7 in Baltimore (first round, quarterfinal and semifinal action is also available on HSRN).

If forced to select a Rookie of the Year at this point though, I’d vote for UNCW guard C.J. Bryce, who has started every game for the first-place Seahawks and is averaging 12.2 points per game on 54.7 percent field goal shooting in conference games. He combined for 44 points in UNCW’s victories over contenders Hofstra and William & Mary. At 6-5, he can finish over smaller guards. Watch him play and it quickly becomes clear he has a scorer’s touch around the rim.

But the race isn’t over quite yet. There are still four games remaining in the regular season, including a tasty battle between UNCW and College of Charleston that could help sway voters in the direction of either Brantley or Bryce. I’m looking forward to that one.