Branden Vincent: Bringing the Toughness

[Premium Article] The day before the first exhibition of the 2002-03 season for the Mississippi State men's basketball team, practice was flowing as normal. During one team drill, Branden Vincent, a junior forward, took an elbow in the mouth from junior forward/center Lincoln Smith. While the blow would keep Vincent out of the first scrimmage, it did not keep him from finishing practice.

"When you see a player walk of the court with two of his teeth in his hand and then walk back out on the floor without complaining, that shows how tough he is," MSU head coach Rick Stansbury said of Vincent. "He brings to the floor everything that I ask our players to bring. He gives all the effort every play."

Vincent exemplifies everything that has come to be known as Bulldog basketball. The selfless ability to pass the ball, hard-nosed defensive skills, physical nature on the basketball court and an overall team player are all things used to describe MSU basketball players.

"We have guys that can score on this team. Zimmerman is a really great guard. Michal Ignerski and Harper can really score," Vincent said. "I think it is my job to go out there and play hard, rebound and play defense."

Hailing from Marrero, Louis, this 6-foot-8 power forward made the trek to Florida to play junior college ball at Okaloosa-Walton Community College. In two seasons Vincent averaged 9.3 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per contest. Vincent also posted 106 blocks, 104 assists, 77 steals and shot 54 percent during his Junior College career.

After being in Florida for two years, Vincent wanted to be closer to home for his final two years of school, but that was not the only drawing card for MSU.

"When I came on my visit all of the guys on the team got along," Vincent said. "I wanted to get closer to home, and this seemed like the place. I did not see any fighting. The team chemistry was something that was really important to me."

Vincent has certainly found his place on the floor for the Bulldogs, and he has fit in well off the floor as well. One of the main statements by all Bulldog players is the closeness of this team, and Branden certainly contributes.

"We all get together and hang out like a family," Vincent said. "We might go to the football game, watch TV or just sit around and cook. 'Z' does a lot of the cooking, but I bring the spice. I cook up some Cajun food."

No matter what comes of his two seasons at MSU, Vincent has already begun preparing for his future. Majoring in Fitness Management at MSU, Vincent hopes to prepare himself for a career in coaching down the road.

"I would really like to become a coach one day when I get through playing," Vincent said. "Being around great coaches like coach Stansbury and the other coaches here really shows me how to coach. I like to listen to what they are telling everybody and pick up on that kind of stuff. Coach Stansbury probably knows every technique to everything about this game."

While he has already started preparing for his future once his playing career is over, what the future holds for Vincent now is a little change. This season he will be asked to play the three or four positions, while he is accustomed to playing the five. But, no matter what is asked of him, it is a safe bet that he will do it and he will do it right.

"It will be a little bit of a change for me moving to the perimeter a little bit, but I am used to being faster than the post guys anyway," Vincent said. "I will get to use my quickness a little more and get to run the floor. I just look at like, whatever my teammates need from me, I am going to do my best to accomplish it."

Grant Alford is a free-lance correspondent for Gene's Page. He is a student at Mississippi State University. You can contact him by email at

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