Davidson's visit to Hawk Hill on Jan. 31 was an interesting time to look at St. Joseph's sophomore DeAndre' Bembry in the context of whether he is the city player of the year.
Bembry already proved last season as a Hawks freshman that he can be a key piece of a winning team. This season, he has carried St. Joe's, leading in virtually every statistical category. What he doesn't have a chance to prove is that he can carry a really fine team. St. Joe's obviously hopes that's the scenario in the next couple of years as the Hawks reload.
The field for top player in the city is an interesting one. Just as it has been for the last two seasons, a different Villanova player tends to shine every time out. When you start leaning toward one, another takes the baton. At Temple, point guard Will Cummings is a viable candidate. He's been terrific when healthy and it was no coincidence that the Owls struggled when he got hurt. He stays high on the list. Drexel's Damion Lee also is high on it. He gets the same kind of defensive treatment as Bembry and puts up similar offensive numbers.
The question about Bembry has been his outside shooting. If he gets his jumper to fall consistently, he's an NBA player. I mentioned this last week to a coach in the city and he said to take a look at the recent numbers. (He'd watched on film.) In his last seven games, Bembry has made 45.9 percent of his three-pointers, and 50.9 percent overall.
In assessing Bembry, forget that he's a sophomore. Against Davidson, he got doubled off each screen and still did all his typical savvy things, blending with his top-rate athleticism. He had 21 points, 17 rebounds, and 7 assists.
Here's a play to remember: With St. Joseph's desperately trying to hold on to a lead, Bembry missed a free throw (not a strength). Before anybody could grab the carom, Bembry had shot past the defender who was supposed to box him out and then outside another Davidson rebounder, the guy who was supposed to get it, as the ball bounced to the right side of the rim.
Bembry got it, and then he got it to a teammate. The play wasn't a game-changer. In the end, it earned St. Joe's one extra point and four more seconds off the clock. But points and seconds were crucial right then. It helped St. Joe's hang on when the wheels were coming off a bit.
That's what you've got with Bembry. A guy who makes that play, and also scores 17.7 points and grabs 7.5 rebounds. Those numbers are completely legitimate and would stand up to any competition. So far, he's the guy, consistently.