I felt like checking in on Brandon Jennings. You might remember him as the trail blazing amazing young talent - 18-years old, who spit in NBA commissioner David Stern's eye, and decided to skip college to spend the season after graduating high school playing in Europe.
It was a mildly controversial decision; there are some who wonder what effect it will have on his draft stock. Will he still be a top-5 pick, even if he doesn't light it up in Europe? Will it hurt his value? Improve it? Those questions won't be answered anytime soon... at least not until the 2009 Draft in June. But here's what I found on Brandon's current situation:
In terms of profit, Jennings signed a $2 million deal with Under Armour. He will wear their gear while playing in Europe. Brandon already had some nice coin for going to Europe - his little $1.2 million contract. So instead of spending a season in college, Jennings is going to make over $3 million this year for playing about 30-40 games overseas, and building his international profile. Only the top three rookies in the NBA this year - Derrick Rose ($4M), Michael Beasley ($3.6M) and OJ Mayo ($3.2M) are making close to that, though I'm not taking their endorsements into account.
Jennings's plays for Lottomatica Roma, of Italy's Serie A League. Located in Rome, they have had lots of NBA talent in their history: George Gervin (the Iceman), Michael Cooper, Anthony Parker, Rick Mahorn, Danny Ferry, Dino Radja.
His teammates include two former NBAers - and don't act like you're not surprised to hear these guys aren't currently in the NBA, because I thought they still were: Allan Ray (he won a championship with the Celtics last season!) and Primo Brezec. Lord, I almost drafted Brezec with my last pick as a joke in fantasy basketball this season. That's because Brezec is one of those players I always end up with every year... like Vince Carter (because no one else likes him, will draft him, trade for him, or even fathom having him on their roster... seriously, is it possible to be a fantasy team cancer?).
Jennings is currently the backup point guard to Ibrahim Jaaber. However, he gets pretty decent playing time - about 18.8 mpg. He is currently averaging 3.3 apg (which is really good in this league.. that's 9th in the entire league) despite only 18.8 mpg. Most guys don't play more than 22 minutes a night, so that should help to explain the first two sentence of this paragraph.
Unfortuately, he is only shooting 31% so far this season, through six games. Lottomatica is 4-2, and sitting in second place overall in Seria A. In Jennings' most recent game, which was 11/16, he played 21 minutes, shot 1-9, had 2 pts, 4 ast, and one steal.
Let's go to the footage! Here is a clip of Jennings during warmups (hint: he's the black guy):
Here is a Brandon Jennings interview with Jeff Taylor of FIBA World:
Highlights: Jennings' response to "How is Italy different than America" included "I'm eating lots of italian food". Apparently Brandon didn't spend much time at the pizzeria while growing up. Of course it might have to do with being from Compton. Here in NYC, I grew up thinking pasta is more American than foreign.
BTW, I love how the interviewer needed clarification on what "italian food" means... I kinda wish BJ would have been like "you know, like chicken in snow peas and kung pow beef, dumbass". Minus one, Jeff Taylor.
Other info gleamed: He's a good friend of Marcus Williams (currently of the Warriors), and modeled some of his game after him, since they are both lefties. Kenny Anderson, too, who was a great lefty.
He's not a James Bond fan, but he did love the last Batman movie. He's going to buy a Range Rover, and do some rolling on dubs. He has been to the Coliseum. Jennings did not get to go against Rick Rubio, at least not yet. Oh, and Vote for Obama!
Here is a link to some shoddy footage of Brandon scoring some rare points in Rome:
And Brandon hitting a jumper:
Finally, let's remember how good Jennings is, by replaying the highlights of him at the Elite 24 in 07, when he was only 16:
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