Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Branco happy at home

Forget the 931 career points he has collected, his ability to distribute the ball as crisply as Leno delivers zingers, or the way he at times willed his team to its first playoff berth last season. What's most astounding about Hudson senior Jarrod Branco is what he hasn't done. Namely, transfer. And rest assured, Branco says, many opposing players — and their parents — have tried to persuade him to do just that.

"Oh yeah, I've heard that a lot, even after my freshman year," Branco said. "It's just basically, 'Why don't you come play with us? We've got a better program over here.' "

At a time when free agency has become engrained in the fabric of prep sports, Branco is a throwback: An elite-level athlete who remains at one program, even when it is struggling through a lean period.

And in recent years, fewer have been more malnourished than Hudson. In Branco's sophomore year, the Cobras were 6-19. The year before, when he was promoted from JV late in the season, they were 3-22.

Not until last season, when Branco led Hudson to a 14-14 record and that inaugural playoff berth, did the payoff for his resilience arrive.

This season, with Branco (21.4 points, 4.7 assists per game), center Stephen Brom (5.1 ppg, 5.2 rebounds pg) and a junior class that went 10-0 in middle school, Hudson could be even better. Additionally, Branco will get to play with younger brother Jamal, a Cobras freshman.

"When he was in (Hudson) middle school, people told his parents to send him to Ridgewood, and this was not Ridgewood people," Cobras coach Jason Vetter said.

"Once he got in here I think he saw what we do and he loved playing for us. We haven't lost a player since my first year. My first year we had a couple transfer out but we haven't had any since then. … We've kept our basketball players, and I think that's one of the reasons we've been able to build something."

Branco, who said the idea of transferring simply never crossed his mind, hasn't seen his collegiate exposure diminish as a result of staying put. A year-round player who competes with a Tampa-based AAU team, he has been contacted by Division II West Florida and St. Andrews Presbyterian in North Carolina, among others.

"They're family," Vetter said of the Branco clan. "They've got a lot of great values and loyalty's one of them."

Joey Knight can be reached at or (813) 226-3350.

Top 5 perimeter players
Player Outlook
Jarrod Branco, Sr., Hudson He's 124 points shy of school's alltime scoring mark.
Alvin Satram, Sr., Ridgewood Averaged 12.2 points, 4 assists, 3 steals as junior.
Kevin Burnell, Sr., Land O'Lakes Averaged 14 points and five rebounds per game.
Dante Valentine, Sr., Springstead Averaged 20 points and 5.3 steals per game.
Darryn Frazier, Sr., Central Averaged 23.2 points for struggling Bears team.
Top 5 post players
Player Outlook
Lukas Poderis, Sr., Ridgewood East Tennessee State signee spent all summer in elite-level AAU competition.
Dominique Roberson, Sr., Springstead Guard/forward averaged 7.7 rebounds per game.
Bryan Jones, Sr., Ridgewood Breakout year projected for Rams' most underrated player.
Stephen Brom, Sr., Hudson Solid defender and rebounder for the Cobras.
Tyler Guy, Jr., Zephyrhills A sturdy, 6-foot-7 three-sport athlete.
New coaches Former coach in parentheses
Coach Outlook
Mark Latsko, Hernando (Chris Ridenour) Went 38-27 in three seasons at Trenton.
Derek Heard, Pasco (Poncho Broner) Coached two current University of Florida freshmen at previous stops.
Paul Schulman, Gulf (Steve Feldman) Has worked extensively with Bucs boys and girls teams in past.

Top 5 teams
Team Outlook
Ridgewood Four of top six players return from 24-4 team that has unfinished business.
Springstead The Eagles return two of top three scoring threats from last season.
Land O'Lakes The Gators lost a few key elements but should be right there with the Rams.
Hudson Coach Jason Vetter thinks his club can be better than last year's playoff team.
Zephyrhills Bulldogs came on strong late last season and have the players to compete.

Branco happy at home 11/23/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 8:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Koetter-Winston exchange highlights latest 'Hard Knocks'


    There are certain things that make HBO's Hard Knocks must-see television.

    Jameis Winston, left, has an exchange with Dirk Koetter that highlights Hard Knocks.
  2. Trevor Plouffe is DFA'd by Rays, Kittredge recalled for now


    INF Trevor Plouffe didn't do much with the opportunity the Rays gave him, and time ran out Tuesday when he was designated for assignment after the game.

    Plouffe hit just .178, with one homer and two RBIs, in 31 games for the Rays, his primary playing time from starting at first or third against lefties.

  3. Rays journal: Offense shows signs of waking up in win over Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The drought was so severe that it's still probably too soon to say the Rays are out of it, but scoring a half-dozen runs in Tuesday's 6-5 win over the Blue Jays was another promising sign.

    Corey Dickerson high-fives Wilson Ramos after hitting a solo home run in the third inning, putting the Rays up 2-1.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    C Wilson Ramos, coming off right knee surgery, often takes it easy on the bases, though it's not always a good look. But he hustled when he needed to Tuesday and got the Rays a run by beating out a two-out infield single, finishing with three more hits.

  5. Rays are full of ideas they'd like to share when commissioner visits

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Commissioner Rob Manfred is coming to the Trop today. Hmm. Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg will be there to greet him. Hmmmm. And they have a scheduled joint media session. Hmmmmmmmmm.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred isn’t expected to say anything definitive about the Rays’ stadium situation when he visits the team today.