It's never too early in college basketball to accept a verbal commit from a high school freshman, especially one that is considered the best player in the Lone Star state for his age, and one of the top 15 players in the nation according to various basketball recruiting experts.
After taking in the festivities at Texas A&M's Maroon Madness event, Atascocita (TX) HS point guard Jamal Branch and his father Jerome met with head coach Mark Turgeon and committed to the Aggies on the spot.
"Jamal had a great time going to A&M. We watched
practice and he liked Soulja Boy and really got into it," Jerome Branch said. "He liked everything and wanted to commit. It's a good school and I agreed with his choice to commit to Texas A&M."
Just because Branch committed at Maroon Madness with all the festivities and entertainment at the arena doesn't mean there wasn't a lot of thought that went into the decision. To the contrary, the Branch family is very adamant about schoolwork and finding a good fit academically for their son.
"Jamal wants to be an engineer, and A&M is a very prestigious engineering school," Branch said. "I'm more proud of his academic achievements than anything he does on the court. He's a straight A sudent and won the ‘Student of Character' Award at his middle school last year."
But on the court Jamal excels as well, and the 6-foot-1, 170-pound is widely considered the best Class of 2011 prospect in Texas and was already hearing from virtually every major basketball program in the nation. However, despite all of the accolades that have come his way at an early age, it isn't just natural ability that pushes Branch into the elite caliber of national basketball prospect according to his father.
"His number one asset is his coachability. He can play in anybody's system. He'll do whatever the coaches ask him to do," Branch said. "I never had to push him to work hard. He's self motivated and will not be outworked. He'll go off for hours working by himself. He doesn't need anybody to push him."
Verbal commitments are non-binding and it will be four years before the blue chip guard steps foot on Texas A&M's campus as a student, but if anybody thought that the Aggies' recruiting would suffer with a coaching staff change this offseason, this is more evidence that those concerns are unfounded.
The Aggie Websider will have a detailed interview with Jamal Monday night. Stay tuned.
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