Friday, November 6, 2015

Redendo Looking To Make Impact At Lee Academy

Brandon Redendo doesn't have all that many friends his own age.

Why is that?

Throughout his career, the 5-foot-11 gym rat barely ever played age appropriate.

He was typically in the gym, gauging his grit against older, established former Section 1 players such as Mike DeMello (White Plains/Pace), Matt Ryan (Iona Prep/Notre Dame) and Walter King (Stepinac, Lee Academy/Maine).

"Those are all my boys, I learned a tremendous amount from them," said Redendo, now a sophomore point guard at Lee Academy.

"Working with them really taught me a lot. Anytime you are in a position to learn from guys like that, you can make changes and adjustments in your game. With Mike (DeMello), I learned a lot about toughness. He taught me about stepbacks and how to really pick apart a defense. I owe those guys a lot."

Redendo appears to be learning well.

A quick-strike 3-point shooter, he's got the tools to emerge into a threat from well beyond the confines of the arc.

He's improved drastically at engineering the transition game, doling out ambidextrious passes, increasing his basketball IQ, and accepting positive criticism.

The latter two are imperative for any young player in a privileged position to learn.

At Lee Academy, Redendo is flanked by Division-I talent.

 He'll have the opportunity to pack muscle onto his spindly 148-pound frame. He'll play a schedule rife with nationally-ranked teams.

"Brandon increased his game tremendously in the one year I coached him," said longtime Our Lady Of Lourdes head coach Jim Santoro, who coached Redendo in 2014-15 and returns a wealth of experience for 2015-16.

"He can knock it down from any spot on the floor. He has no problem pulling up from anywhere. He improved by leaps and bounds, he got a heckuva lot better from the start of the season to finish."

If you weigh the handle, the deft long range shooting, the ability to score in clusters, what's this kid's best attribute?

"I would say his ability to get himself into tight situations and then importantly get himself out of it with his ball handling and his body movement," Santoro said.

"Brandon would see a double team coming and somehow get himself free and manage to make a play. We have a strong team coming back (at Lourdes) but with him, we'd be that much stronger. We wish him the best (at Lee Academy).

The focus of Redendo's game has changed these past few months.

Planting himself in the weight room and becoming more engaged defensively, including a new knack for taking charges, has given Redendo more of an all-around package.

The IQ and shooting has always been there, since the time he was a pint-sized neophtye.

"I've been watching a lot of Steph Curry lately and I know the reason he's had the success he's had is because of his shot speed," Redendo said.

 "He can get his shot off so quickly and pull it at any given time. I'd like to increase my shot speed, to the point where I can get a shot off in 0.4 seconds."

Named to the 2015 16U All-Gymrat Challenge team, Redendo cemented his niche as a pure shooter capable of spotting up or coming off the screen ready to pull-and-pop.

His ball handling and serenity in navigating a pressure cooker enabled him to play both guard spots throughout.

Redendo recalls his younger years, when he watched guys like Steve Nash with a hawk-like gaze.

 Reading the pocket passes, the pick-and-rolls, and admiring Nash's ability to find the right space for his shot and create off the dribble, Redendo's love for the game blossomed.

"He can shoot it," said Matt Ryan, one of Section 1's most memorable 3-point assailants.

 "He's got he handle on a string."

Can he evolve at the higher level of Lee Academy?

Can he grow at the same pace as the guys he once patterned his game around and learned from, en route to developing a beyond-his-years IQ?

"Brandon has a great feel for the game he's a Steve Nash clone," said head coach Kyleek Alford, who recently coached Redendo in the Jim Couch Invitational.

"He shoots the ball well and his court vision is excellent. A little more weight and he'll be a force. Being one of the youngest sophomores in the game, he held his own. He brought a lot of flair to it with his behind-the-back and no look passes."

And he's still growing.

"The best thing that happened to him was he reclassified and went on to play at an elite school," said Lou DeMello, the former Rice High coach and House of Sports AD, now at Masters School in Dobbs Ferry.

"He'll be in the gym against a number of Division-I guys. He'll be on an around-the-clock schedule which would enable him to improve his game."