Photo courtesy of Jon Lopez/Nike
By David Cordova
This is Part 12 of our sixteen-part series, “This Is New York,” as we chronicled Brandon Weston, a Brooklyn native who plays his high school basketball in Chicago at Morgan Park High School and on the Nike EYBL circuit with the Mac Irvin Fire.
Throughout this summer, there have been plenty of exciting players in the tournaments in New York City, as many have strutted their stuff on the asphalt. It’s even more exciting for the youths who attend school outside of the city, because during the school year, wherever they may be, they long for the fanfare of the crowd and everything that comes with playing streetball.
Brandon Weston is one of those youths. He’s a player that is a warrior on the court and plays with reckless abandon. Whenever he steps between those lines, he comes ready to play and lets nothing get in his way. He’ll get rebounds and even throw down dunks in the open lane or off of a putback. When he’s on the court, he’s a true warrior.
“I really like [playing] in the parks a lot, because it helps you get that grit in your game, and help you get tougher. It’s just more fun, you know what I mean? Like the refs, all the crowds and watching everybody see you play. I think it’s more fun to play outside,” he said.
“It’s just the game that I love, I’ve been playing basketball ever since like, second grade, you know. I just want to get better at it and make it to the NBA,” said Weston on what motivates him to be successful on the court.
Weston hails from the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, which is one of the toughest parts of the borough and is also nicknamed, “Do or Die, Bed-Stuy.” But within that area is also some athletic talent.
“It’s real tough and grimy out there. You can’t go out there and think like, you’re somebody, because they’ll show you that you’re nobody,” says Weston of his neighborhood. “I feel like out there, you just got to play hard and play to win.”
When asked about the strengths and weaknesses in his game, he replied, “I feel like I should be more consistent in my jumpshot, so that my handle should be a little more tighter. But overall, I could rebound, I could run the floor, I could get my teammates involved, I can score the ball left and right. But just getting my jumpshot more tighter and my handle [are things to work on].”
Weston started out high school at St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin, where he averaged 21.5 points, eight rebounds and 2.4 steals per game as a freshman and earned Midwest Classic Conference first-team honors.
When asked about his time in a military setting, he replied, “[It was a] really interesting experience, but I feel like I took a lot of good things away from it more than bad, so I feel like it kind of shaped me to a better man today, I can say that.”
Last season, he transferred to Morgan Park High School in Chicago, Illinois, but because of transfer rules and regulations, he was forced to sit out last season. This coming season, he will suit up for the Mustangs, which is a powerhouse not only in the Chicago Public League, but also in the state of Illinois.
“Morgan Park is great, those guys love to win, I’m surrounded by a lot of guys who want to win, they’re very welcoming. As soon as I came there, my first practice, I felt welcome, those are a good group of guys,” said Weston on his school.
On not being able to play his sophomore season, he replied, “My sophomore year, I wasn’t able to play, ‘cause I had transferred in December, and the rules out there in Chicago are if you transfer, like during the middle of the season, you can’t play. So, I wasn’t able to play, but during the season, I was just working out and getting better and better day by day.”
When asked about the basketball culture in Chicago in comparison to New York, Weston replied, “I can say it’s kind of like the same, it’s just that they don’t have outside (playground) tournaments. In Chicago, they don’t care who you are, they’ll go at you, they’ll play defense, just like anybody, it’s just like New York.”
This past spring and summer, he played with the Mac Irvin Fire on the Nike EYBL circuit and averaged 12.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game for the Chicago-based program, which advanced to the Nike Peach Jam.
When asked about playing for Mac Irvin, he replied, “Mac Irvin Fire is good, we went 10-3 [through the first three sessions], my coaches let me be and play and be myself and let me just spread and showed the coaches what I could do. So playing with Mac Irvin is really good.”
As of late, he has been offered by UMass, Wake Forest, Seton Hall, Illinois, St. Louis, UAB, Arizona State and St. John’s. As he continues to get better and better, more schools will inquire about his play.
As for what those in the Windy City can expect from Weston as a junior when he suits up for the Mustangs this season, he replied, “They can expect a monster. This junior season, I’m coming out to make a statement and show everybody who Brandon Weston is, and I’m just looking forward to it, really.”
Although he may be in the Midwest now, Weston, or “B. West,” as he is sometimes referred to, has not forgotten his Brooklyn roots. He’s still a New Yorker at heart, even though he doesn’t attend high school there. But wherever he goes, he represents Bed-Stuy to the fullest.
Check out Part 13 on Saturday, September 7th, as we will chronicle Hassan Diarra, a Queens native who is a standout at national prep powerhouse Putnam Science Academy in Putnam, Connecticut.