Watching Brandone Francis earlier this month at the Chick-Fil-A Classic, it was almost shocking to watch him compete in lackluster fashion. He engraved his name on this class as a no-surrender warrior, but he seemed devoid of fight in South Carolina.
Well, not so in Charlotte on the final day of the WWC. Francis rediscovered his inner beast, leading Arlington Country Day past a talented Hagerstown (Md.) St. James squad 51-43.
The game lacked offensive flow, and thus Francis' 20-point outing played out even more impressively in person than it does on paper. The future Florida Gator reinforced the fact that he's at his best in the fullcourt game, and if Billy Donovan opts to return to a faster tempo, Francis would ease the adjustment.
Irrespective of pace, the bullying guard's aggression will make an impression in any setting. When he's on his game — which typically is the case — Francis is nearly as combative with his mouth as he is with his body. He's vocal with teammates, opponents and officials, and while some negative side effects do arise from that, his battling spirit is worth whatever downsides exist.
He doesn't boast an elite first step and does possess a faster gear once he has worked his way into a headful of steam. He's a body control finisher, too, even if he isn't extremely explosive above the rim. He draws a lot of contact and, in college basketball's new officiating climate, should create a lot of scoring from the foul line.
His jump shot remains a mystery. Francis doesn't shoot witih poor form and buried 4-7 on threes versus St. James, but at other times he has languished from deep. Ironing out that inconsistency will do wonders for him as he embarks upon his career with the Gators. In the meantime, his mid-range game may emerge as a more reliable weapon for him as a freshman.
Francis handles well enough to play the role of big point guard, but he's definitely a natural wing defensively. He's a physical defender rather than a laterally quick and long lockdown guy, but with the exception of certain matchups he should be fine on that end of the court.
On the whole, I wouldn't say there's much different about his game this year than from the summer, the issue being that he wasn't playing to his level when I watched him earlier this season. Here, however, he showed why he's a consensus top-50 talent and potential star for the Gators.