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Mace & Crown | February 19, 2018

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Brothers in blood and ball *** for Mag**

Sports Editor | Brittany Reigelsperger

While playing collegiate basketball is an honor in itself, two Old Dominion men’s basketball players have the greater honor of calling each other brothers. Not only do Brandan and B.J. Stith have the privilege of being brothers on and off the court they also have the unique experience of having their father, a former NBA player, serve as their assistant coach. While this rare trio may seem bizarre to some, keeping ball in the family has been familiar to the Stiths for quite some time.

Coach Bryant Stith played his collegiate career at the University Of Virginia while earning his degree in Sociology. During his time as a Cavalier he was named the 1989 ACC Rookie of the Year and collected three first-team All-ACC honors. Coach Stith finished off his college career in 1992 with the recognition of MVP of the National Invitation Tournament. Following his college years, Coach Stith began his career as a professional basketball player when he was selected as the 13th overall pick by the Denver Nuggets in the 1992 NBA Draft. During his 10 year NBA Career, Stith played for three teams and marked 5,946 points before retiring in 2002. In retirement Stith returned to his old high school, Brunswick, as head coach where he and his sons won three straight state championships.

Coach Stith once equated the opportunity of coaching both of his sons at the collegiate level as “every day is a holiday” for him. He has even acknowledged this novel privilege that “not too many fathers get” and affirms that he cherishes every moment he gets to share with B.J. and Brandan.

Neither Brandan nor B.J. can articulate the exact moment they realized their love of basketball, but both brothers attribute their passion to the desire to emulate the success and determination of their father. In their younger years  both Brandan and B.J. dabbled in other sports including baseball, football and track, but nothing ever equaled their enjoyment of playing basketball with each other and their father.

Leaving high school with three state championships under their belts made both boys extraordinary prospects for recruiting colleges. Brandan received offers from Virginia Commonwealth University, University of North Carolina, Charlotte and Ohio University amongst others and even received an offer from his dads alma mater UVA. When asked why he didn’t choose UVA, who went onto be the number three seed in the 2013-14 season Brandan explained

“UVA just didn’t fit my style of play. They played too slow. I just felt it wasn’t a good fit for me as a player, and felt I would be better somewhere else.”

Ultimately, Brandan took his talents to East Carolina University where he appeared in 33 of their 34 games and averaged 6.3 rebounds a game. While his time at ECU was astonishing for a freshman, Brandan felt as though ODU offered more opportunities for growth and leadership on the team. Brandan promptly transferred for the 2014-15 season but had to sit out due to NCAA transfer rules. However, he proved to use this time productively as he started all 31 games during the 2015-16 season and totaled 310 rebounds. While Brandan was making his debut as a Monarch, he had the support of his younger brother B.J. as he had just transferred to ODU after a short year playing for UVA.

Unlike Brandan, B.J. only received one college offer, but this is mostly attributed to B.J.’s decision to verbally commit to UVA as a freshman in high school. While committing to a university that early is not unheard of, it isn’t common and even less likely to be honored by players. When asked why B.J. decided to commit so early he explained

“My dads career and history with UVA heavily impacted me. I’ve always looked up to him and that ultimately influenced me to choose UVA so early and pushed me to follow through with that decision.”

Even though both brothers paths changed following their initial team selections, both agree that making the move to ODU and playing side by side under the guidance of head coach Jeff Jones and their father was the best choice for the remainder of their collegiate careers.  

Both B.J. and Brandan have brought an undeniable rhythm to the program that capitalizes on their respective strengths. B.J., who is a forceful guard, often shoots precise three-pointers and perfect free throws. While Brandan, a vengeful forward, is well known for his powerful rebounds and aggressive steals. Their synergy and leadership has guided the team through tough wins and losses but indisputably made a lasting impact on the entirety of the program.  

Looking ahead both brothers hope to obtain careers in their respective fields of criminal justice and communications. They are both currently working towards graduate degrees as they finish out their time as members of the Old Dominion men’s basketball team. While neither know exactly which career paths they will take, both fully intend to remain involved with basketball in some capacity of their lives. As brothers in blood and ball, everyone can rest assured that they are not done making their mark on the world of basketball following their time as Monarchs.