After fracturing multiple bones in his wrist, Brandone Francis continues his rise in the national rankings.
by Dave Spahn / @davespahn
With the ever-increasing innovations in technology and scouting resources, basketball recruiting now covers nearly every corner of the country. Although some players slip through the cracks due to late growth spurts or lack of exposure, rarely do superstars appear overnight.
When a player shoots straight up the national rankings and shows no signs of slowing down, heads tend to quickly turn. Brandone Francis, a 2014 lead guard from Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville, FL, went from unranked to potential All-American in the span of a few short weeks.
Francis was on the verge of gaining serious momentum last spring, playing at an extremely high level and going toe-to-toe with some of the best players in the country. The Dominican Republic native was poised to break onto the national AAU scene with the Florida Rams, but as he threw down a monstrous dunk over national phenom Cliff Alexander in last year’s Best Buy tournament in Chicago, Francis fell straight on his wrist and instantly broke multiple bones.
His wrist bone stuck straight out of his skin, leaving him lying in a heap under the basket in excruciating pain. The dunk still resonates among recruiting circles as one of the best yams of the spring, but Francis came away with a season-ending injury.
“I definitely started feeling really down,” Francis explained. “People were saying I’d never be the same player again. I didn’t have any offers after my injury. People kind of forgot about me.”
Francis turned a setback into an opportunity to develop. He rehabbed hard and stayed determined to come back at a higher level than he started. His rehab process proved to be long and tedious, but Francis saw the light at the end of the tunnel. He worked his way back into shape and focused on becoming the star he initially set out to be.
“I wanted to prove a lot of people wrong, but I thought proving to myself that I could still compete with anyone in the country was more important,” Francis said. ” I knew that the only way I could gain the respect I wanted was to work harder than I’ve ever worked in my life. It was really, really tough, but I had no other choice.”
Not only did Francis come back stronger than before the injury, some scouting services already rank Francis as a top-20 player in the country, and more will most likely be following suit. He already led his team to the adidas Exclusive Run championship this spring and received MVP honors for the tournament.
At 6-5, he brings a combination of elite athleticism and perimeter skills that coaches search for. He uses his strong frame to overpower smaller guards, and his impressive ball-handling skills allow him to blow by defenders with ease. His best trait, however, is his ability to see the floor and find the open man. He has been blessed with the gift to know where every player on the floor should be, and he threads the needle to the open man every time. Finding a better passer with Francis’ size, athleticism and skillset would prove to be a difficult task.
“I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to finally showcase my abilities,” Francis said. “I saw how quickly my opportunities can be taken away from me, so I try to take advantage of every minute I spend playing basketball.”
Francis is focused squarely on becoming a better basketball player and person every day. His climb to national prominence has taken many twists and turns, but his character and physical traits proved one major theme throughout the past year: Brandone Francis certainly is not done rising yet.