By Joseph Staszewski
MANHEIM, Pa. — Jasmine Brunson’s desire for better competition and a better education came with a price: It has left her as one of the city’s under-the-radar talents. But Brunson is ready to show people what she can do.
The rising junior guard transferred from Bayside to Mary Louis after her freshman year. The Commodores play in the second tier PSAL Class A basketball league and Brunson wanted a test herself in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens, considered one of the nation’s top divisions.
The combo guard was forced to play her sophomore year at the JV level by league rules because she transferred without a change of address. An older player would have had to sit a whole season.
“When I first heard it, I was disappointed,” the 5-foot-6 Brunson said. “I knew I couldn’t do anything about it, so I made the best of it.”
She humbly went about leading the Hilltoppers to an undefeated junior varsity city championship, averaging 30 points per game. Brunson scored an average of 23.2 points a contest at Bayside, and Mary Louis varsity and Positive Direction Coach JoAnn Arbitello warned the league of the type of dominance Brunson would display. Brunson took it all in stride as a learning experience in leadership and making your teammates around you better.
“I learned that it is not really about me,” she said. “I have to get everybody involved.”
Brunson continued to show that with Positive Direction last weekend at the BlueChip USA Invitational at the Spooky Nook Sports complex. She had 22 points and three steals in a win over the Krush and had 12 points and five boards in a loss to the Comets.
Her defense and ability to tip balls away for potential steals stood out despite her scoring number. The same quickness and instincts that allow her to drive to basket to create points or assists helped her on the defensive end as well.
“It just comes natural to her,” Arbitello said. “That is her talent, besides her offensive ability.”
It is an attribute that didn’t come without practice. Brunson grew up playing with boys as early as 6 years old in the park. She needed to find a way to get into games, stay on the court and earn their respect. Brunson did it through defense.
“When I got out there and somebody gave a chance, I had to do something,” she said.
Brunson will get a similar opportunity when she suits up for the Mary Louis varsity team this winter. She has played in basketball anonymity so far in the five boroughs. A few Division I schools have shown interest in Brunson, but she understands this is her year to demonstrate to people what they’ve missed.
“I don’t get a lot of recognition,” Brunson said. “When I play teams, I want them to remember me.”