Brewster's Smith: Bramanti 'Our most important player'

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- He doesn't have the natural talents of a Mitch McGary, or the sweet stroke of an Aaron Thomas. But when asked following last night's thrilling win over Tilton (N.H.) about Joe Bramanti's value, Brewster Academy (N.H.) head coach Jason Smith threw around some high praise.

"He's probably not our most valuable player, but there's no question he's our most important player. We're not undefeated without Joe Bramanti," Smith said. "And in my opinion, there's no question he's a Division 1 player. He can play at a lot of different places, because he can guard multiple positions. He guarded Georges [Niang] today, he finished with nine [points] and he's coming off games where he scored 38, 39, because Joe makes him play every possession. He denies, he bumps cutters, he's physical."

Bramanti comes to the Wolfeboro, N.H. campus for a post-graduate season after a stellar career at Andover High. Last season, the 6-foot-2 guard took Merrimack Valley Confernce MVP honors by an almost unanimous decision, averaging 22.3 points, six rebounds, four assists and routinely locking down an opponent's top scorer. He was also named to ESPN Boston's inaugural MIAA All-State and All-Defensive Teams for his efforts.

At the end of last season, Bramanti held little desire from the Division 1 schools, with just The Citadel and Dartmouth expressing interest, and Division 2 Stonehill College extending a scholarship offer. That interest from The Citadel has since turned into an offer; Bramanti has also been invited to walk-on at Boston College and Florida State. A decision likely won't be coming until the spring.

"If a Division 1 coach doesn't understand the importance of Joe Bramanti to their team, they're probably gonna be fired within the next five years," Smith said. "Because, if you think about it -- I bang my head against the wall -- Division 1 schools get 13 scholarships, normal teams probably play eight guys. So your last five have got to be role guys.

"And if there's a tougher, or better on-the-ball defender, or a kid that understands how to play, I mean that's a role right there."

Regarded as one of the MIAA's best perimeter defenders last season, Bramanti has lived up to that reputation so far at Brewster, averaging close to 30 minutes a night (schools in the NEPSAC's Class AAA play two 20-minute halves).

"And again, college coaches...come watch the film, watch practice," Smith said. "He's somebody that, the more you watch, the more you're going to appreciate him. He's not the guy that, the first time you watch him, you walk out of the gym talking about him.

"He's the guy you watch three or four times, then you really appreciate it, and you say, 'OK, I need that guy on my team because we're gonna need to get stops'."