It’s hard to overlook St. Joseph’s forward DeAndre Bembry.
At 6-foot-6, he has an afro like a young Julius Erving, stretching his height to 6-foot-9 or above. Somehow, despite his unmistakable stature and style on the court, it’s his play that keeps getting overlooked by the city of Philadelphia and in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“We really need to start paying attention [to Bembry],” said Hawks coach Phil Martelli after Wednesday’s 62-56 win over UMass (10-9, 3-3). “Look at these numbers. He had 25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, five steals and three blocks. It’s a shame because he’s going to get overlooked, he hasn’t gotten Big 5 Player of the Week or Atlantic 10 Player of the Week because we’re an average team.”
Bembry scored the Hawks’ first 13 second half points in Wednesday night’s win for St. Joe’s (8-9, 2-4), which included some impressive blocks and a no-look pass to set a teammate up for a layup at the very end of the stanza. On Sunday, he had a career-high 27 points in a 70-61 loss to St. Bonaventure. He believes the recognition he deserves will come soon enough.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” said Bembry, about the lack of recognition. “That comes with [winning]. I would like it to be [more], of course. I’ve been playing very well lately. I’m just trying to get wins for the team. If you lose, [the stats] don’t really matter. That’s how I feel. If we keep winning, then maybe. That’s how I’ve got to treat it.”
As just a sophomore, Bembry is tied for third in the conference in scoring at 17.1 points per game. In strictly conference games he ranks first, averaging 20.2 points per game. He also ranks fourth in steals (2.0), 11thin rebounds (6.7) and 12thin assists (3.1).
“If he was on a team that had 13 or 14 wins, you’d be talking about him as an All-America candidate,” Martelli said. “It’s not like he did this alone. We just didn’t freeze and watch him. But look at the numbers. There’s not a lot of guys who’ve played in this uniform that have had those kind of numbers in a game.”
The Hawks have now won two of their last three games, in large part from the efforts of Bembry. They have two winnable Big 5 games coming up against UPenn (4-10, 0-1) Saturday at the Palestra before heading to La Salle (10-8, 2-3) next week.
“I just said to the players, whatever you believe in and whatever prayer you say hit your knees tonight and thank god that you’re going to get a chance to play in the Palestra against a Philadelphia team on a Saturday night,” Martelli said. “It gives you chills. If they don’t get it, they’ll get it when we walk in because I understand the game is sold out.”