Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.
By David Cordova
On November 30th, it was a festive time in the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn, as many of the past & present, young & old, came out to celebrate the life & times of the late, great Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, as Boys & Girls High School to retire his No. 31 jersey.
Current Kangaroos head coach, Ruth Lovelace spoke about having never been able to coach a McDonald’s All-American, but that she currently has one player that could potentially be one in another year or so. The name of the player in question is none other than Khalil Brantley.
The 6-foot junior combo guard is a dynamite scorer that is making noise for himself. Since transferring to Boys & Girls, he has been on a scoring tear and has taking the PSAL by storm. As he has had multiple games in which he has been scoring 30 or more points. Wherever he’s at, he’s bound to make an impact.
“What motivates me is the will to be great & to lead my team to success,” said Brantley when asked what motivates him to be successful on the court. “Try to work as hard as I can, as much as possible, there’s always going to be somebody watching me.”
On his strengths & weaknesses in his game, he replied, “My strengths is being able to attack the basket and get my teammates involved, finish around the basket, shoot the long range. A weakness in my game, I gotta be a little more vocal, but other than that, I don’t feel like I have a lot of flaws in my game.”
Brantley, originally from the Wakefield section of the Bronx, has been playing the game since the age of eight. At six years old, he moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where his talent first blossomed.
“The basketball culture down there, it’s not as great as New York, ‘cause in New York, that’s all they do, is play basketball, but the culture is great down there, the games is lit, it’s just another basketball mecca,” said Brantley of the basketball culture in Charlotte.
As a freshman in high school, he first started out at Rocky River High School in the town of Mint Hill, North Carolina. Alongside him was another highly-touted player in Jaden Springer, who is currently a senior at national powerhouse IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and is signed to play at the University of Tennessee next season.
When asked about his time at Rocky River with Springer, he replied, “Playing with Jaden, that’s my right-hand man, it was great playing with him, he brings great energy, you know, throwing lobs and alleys, gets the crowd hype. He’s a great player, he’s a great individual, I love him, that’s my guy.”
Then last season, as a sophomore, he made the move to come back to New York City, and played at Nazareth High School in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, for legendary high school coach, Dwayne “Tiny” Morton, who is now an assistant at national powerhouse, The Patrick School.
With the Kingsmen, he had three games in which he scored 20 or more points, and was a fixture for the team, averaging 13.3 points per game and earning CHSAA “A” All-League honors.
When asked about the move to the city and playing at Nazareth, he replied, “Nazareth was a great experience playing under Tiny [Morton]. Tiny’s a great coach, he’s going to get the best out of you. You just have to be mentally right to play under him. It was a great experience playing a whole bunch of guys that was my age, and we went far, we could’ve went further, but it is what it is.”
This summer, he played on the Nike E16 circuit with both the New York Lightning and the New Jersey Playaz. Wherever he went with either team, Brantley rose to the occasion. When asked about playing on the Nike circuit, he replied, “I feel like Nike has the best circuit, playing with them, it’s a lot of competition, it’s a lot of upcoming people, it’s a lot of people that you don’t know about that are coming at you day in and day out. [There’s] a lot of people that know about you and are trying to get your spot, trying to get your name.”
When he wasn’t playing on the AAU circuit, he played in NY vs. NY with the eventual champion, Dyckman. Asked about being a member championship squad of one of the summer’s finest events in the Big Apple, Brantley replied, “That was one of the best experiences of my life. Playing with them, you knowm you had me, Rams [Dashawn Davis], Mali [Malachi Smith], a couple of bigs, Tu-Tu, [Nariq Chisholm], we had a great coaching staff, we had a great all-around team. We was counted out [in] a lot of games, against Gersh, and against Watson, but you know, we always prevailed to the top, and I always did my part. If it wasn’t scoring, I did my part, and played my role to get to the championship, and win a NY vs. NY championship, that was my first year playing in it.”
This fall, he decided to enroll at Boys & Girls, a move which has paid huge dividends for the Kangaroos and for Brantley. When asked why he chose to play for the program on Fulton Street, he replied, “It’s a great atmosphere, everybody should come to The High. The High is a family-oriented thing. I heard a lot of things about The High, like, ‘Don’t come here, there’s fights,’ but you come here, there’s a lot of family-oriented things, and you know we’ve got Justin Bright, [trainer and founder of] Humble Development, he got in here [in the gym] and got me right, and Coach Lovelace, she’s always on my back.”
In the Kangaroo Classic game, Brantley went on a scoring tear, as he scored 32 points and led the Kangaroos to a 75-66 win over PSAL “B” Division powerhouse, Achievement First. Following that performance, he has been on a roll. According to the PSAL website, through nine games in the PSAL “AA” Division, he is averaging 33.5 points per game.
On whether he feels he can lead the Kangaroos far in the playoffs, he replied, “We’re trying to go to the Garden, we’re trying to get a ‘chip, you know, try to go at least to the semifinals, if anything. We want a ‘chip, though, [I’m] trying to take them as far as I can, we have a great group.”
As far as his recruitment, he has been hearing from Manhattan, Iona, Florida International and Kansas State.
On what a college will have to do to land his services, Brantley replied, “That’s a tough question. To land me? I don’t know, just the program, and the style of play has to fit me, and you know, whichever team needs me, not wants me.”
So far, Brantley has been succeeding on the court in leading The High to a 12-5 record, so far this season and the Kangaroos are tied for second place in the PSAL Brooklyn “AA” Division with the two-time defending champion South Shore Vikings, whom they will play tomorrow at 6 PM at the Frank Mickens Gymnasium at The High.
One thing is for sure. He plans to take the Kangaroos back to the PSAL championship game, where they last played eight years ago, and won the last of a three-peat in 2012. But for all college coaches out there, if you don’t know who Khalil Brantley is, take stock now.
What’s next in the future for him? “What’s next in the future for me is to get Boys High as far as possible and get my GPA up & try to be a McDonald’s All-American,” he replied.