Before Saint Joseph’s even played their first regular season game this year, Hawks star DeAndre Bembry was invited to the Nike Basketball Academy, named to the Preseason All-Atlantic 10 First Team, Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List, Julius Erving Small Forward Award Watch List, and the Naismith Trophy Early Season Watch list.
None of these accolades are unwarranted as Bembry finished last season averaging 17.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.9 steals and was the Atlantic 10’s leading scorer. But, many deemed the junior a sure thing for the 2016 draft, which might have been a rush to judgement.
Bembry started the season off slow, shooting only 36% from the field and averaging 3 turnovers in his first five games. It’s understandable for players to begin the season not playing at their best, as coaches are still tweaking lineups and experimenting with different schemes. In addition to getting used to games again, it may be tough to follow up the success like Bembry had. But for a player of Bembry’s caliber, this is not a valid excuse, especially against teams he should dominant against.
The North Carolina native scored 23 points in his first game versus Drexel but after that he only averaged about 12 points in his next four games. Saint Joseph’s toughest opponent in these games was Florida, who entered the game on the back of a 102-54 victory over North Carolina A&T. He did not only struggle against a tough Florida team, making only two baskets from the field, but also against Buffalo, when he went 4-11 from the field. Later, against a below .500 team in Old Dominion, he only made three field goals.
More specifically, it took him until the fifth game of the season to make his first three pointer. Last season, he had already made six threes by this point.
Despite his early season shooting slump, Bembry has converted from the charity stripe, where he has shot a career high 71%. His ability to attack the basket and cause opponents to foul him led to 38 free throw attempts within the five games. In addition to that, Bembry filled up the rest of the stat sheet and made up for his lack of scoring by averaging 6.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.6 steals.
One major reason for Bembry’s lack of offensive production has been the emergence of Baltimore native Isaiah Miles. Through eleven games, he has averaged 17.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks, which are all career highs for the senior.
However, Bembry’s offensive production has come on as of late, averaging 18.5 points and shooting 49% from the field over his last six games. Though he continues to struggle from behind the arc, shooting a mere career low 23%, he is committed to hitting more threes, attempting 34 3’s since the Old Dominion game. Also, he is beginning to take better care of the ball, which has caused his turnovers per game average to drop from 3 to 1.5.
The aforementioned star has steadily progressed this season after struggling early on, finding different ways to help the Hawks win besides just scoring but if Bembry wants to be the recipient of the preseason awards and play in the NBA he must convert from beyond the arc more often, take care of the ball, and continue to fill the stat sheet.
Photo: Sideline Photos, LLC
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