Earlier this week I found out that Alan Branch (U-M Camper, US Army Combine stats: 6-6, 305 lbs., 5.2 in the 40, 4.65 in the shuttle, 2.5 GPA/17 ACT) was making a Western tour with his AAU basketball teams. After playing in 3 games on Saturday, with his Albuqurque Aztecs finishing fourth out of 100 teams, he flew to Los Angeles to join his other team, the New Mexico Huskies, as they participated in the Adidas Summer Slam Tournament held at Loyola Marymount Univeristy in Westchester, Calif.
The Huskies were part of the first slate of teams to play and I was able to watch Branch in action. Before the game he told me a bit about his early summer: "Before our summer drills started I was out of shape. I had a stress fracture in my left leg and I had to keep off of it for a while, so I gained some weight and needed to get back in condition, which is one of the main reasons I'm playing basketball this summer. I've lost 10 pounds and feel really good."
Branch can certainly move for a person his size. Several times during the game he quickly eluded defenders to take the ball to the basket. One guy standing next to me made the comment that, "That number 5 (Branch) can move pretty good for a big guy." His coach, Ed Little, told me earlier in the week that people see Branch and assume he is big and slow, he always proves them wrong when they actually see him and Sunday was no exception. He played all but 2 minutes of the game and was hustling up and down the floor the entire game. At the buzzer ending the first half, Branch drove impressively to the basket to bring the Huskies withing 14, but it wasn't enough.
Unfortunaltely the Huskies were no match for the Los Angeles ABC club, as they were on the losing end of a 112-58 rout. After the game I talked to Branch further.
Have you decided on a top school list?
"No, I haven't had time to sit down with my dad and go over my list of schools. I've been so busy this summer with school, summer football drills, and basketball. When I am home my dad is usually working. We should be sitting down soon to get things set."
Before the Michigan camp you had listed U-M as your leader, after camp they seemed to slip, was there a reason?
"Did I say that? If I did I must have just been excited about Michigan showing interest, I really haven't had a leader at all because I haven't been able to talk things over with my dad."
How did your parents like their visit to Michigan?
"They loved it. My mom spent a long time with the academic department to make sure the support at Michigan was good. Any worries they had before the visit were completely taken care of by the Michigan academic support staff."
Did you attend the Texas A&M Camp?
"No, I just didn't have time."
Do the Michigan coaches keep in touch with you?
"Yes, I get a letter from Coach Sheridan usually every week, just letting me know they are still interested and giving me the phone numbers to call them."
Do you call the coaches?
"Yes, I talk to both Coach Sheridan and Coach English. I've gotten to know Coach English pretty good and I like him a lot. He's a real nice person to talk to."
What are you looking for in a school?
"Education is the most important thing. I want to have a degree where employers look at that on a resume and go 'WOW', and hire you on the spot. Michigan has that kind of reputation. Of course I want to go where the football program is good too. I want to major in some kind of science though I'm not sure which."
Are you getting a lot of pressure to stay close to home?
"Not from my parents, they aren't saying anything at all about that. But people from New Mexico really want me to stay."
When will you make a decision?
"I'm not sure yet, we'll get all that decided when I finally sit down with my dad. We'll set up my list of visits then too, but Michigan is definitely getting an official visit."
Have you received any other offers since the U-M camp?
"Nah, I have offers from Arizona State and Washington State, as well as Michigan, but they were before camp, I haven't heard from anyone about offers since then."
You looked pretty good out there on the court, is anyone recruiting you for hoops?
"Arizona State told me I could play both. I'm thinking about it but my main sport is football."
Branch in LA
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