Brendan Casper (shooting), a Methacton grad, was given a scholarship during his junior year at Saint Joseph's. (Photo: Sideline Photos)
Andrew O’Connor (@andrewoconnor23)
The mood in the Saint Joseph’s locker room Saturday afternoon was one of excitement and it wasn’t only because of their 80-55 rout of Fordham immediately prior. The excitement revolved around junior forward Brendan Casper, who was being interviewed, as teammates pulled out phones to capture the moment.
Saturday, when Casper scored four points against Fordham, capped off a great week for the Methacton grad. It was announced last Tuesday night after a film session at George Mason that Casper would be receiving a scholarship to the university, something he had been striving for since choosing to walk-on at St. Joe’s.
“My dream since high school was to be a Division I player and now not only being a locker room player, but a scholarship Division I player, you really feel like you’ve made it,” Casper said about the scholarship with an uncontainable smile.
Casper walked on to the team as a freshman in 2013 and has been a driving factor since, whether it be on the court or behind the scenes.
“He could of gone to any Division II school around for free, but he wanted to play Division I basketball and he does," said coach Phil Martelli. “It might not be in minutes, but in definitely in practice.”
His teammates hold a similar sentiment to their coach and are not afraid to share it.
“Brendan is a special player definitely,” said teammate DeAndre' Bembry. “He could play one through four and he’s definitely the best player on the (practice) team, he pushes us.”
Casper is adored by fans and teammates alike and the evidence of this can be seen in his performance Saturday afternoon. He played four minutes, scoring four points and recording a rebound and a steal, knocking down a three that received an ovation from the crowd and bench.
The student section and Hawks’ bench has also helped Casper acquire a nickname in his time at St. Joe’s. “That’s the Franchise,” Bembry said, referencing a nickname he heard the crowd call Casper sometime last season. Evidently, it has stuck.
It’s clear the locker room respects and appreciated Casper, and Martelli said that’s in part due to his relentless hard work.
“He never took a day off. No individual workout, no practices,” saidl Martelli. “To me he’s the ultimate Hawk. ”
These are high words from Martelli who doesn’t shy away for praise for the walk-on junior, commenting also on his demeanor during practices and games. Last year Casper played significant minutes for the Hawks, but this year his role has dropped dramatically. Though that has not changed his demeanor, according to Martelli, who said “there’s not a body language (change), no rolling of the eyes.”
All of which made it a little more special when the coach could announce Casper’s scholarship in front of the entire team.
“It was really delightful to tell the team Tuesday night and have them give a standing ovation. They’re all hugging him. That’s pretty cool, the way they handled it,” said Martelli
Casper admits he was stunned and a little overwhelmed at the moment.
“I was in shock honestly,” Casper said, “Everyone got really excited and I didn’t know how to react because I wasn’t expecting it.”
All credit went to Casper’s parents in his eyes and he viewed the scholarship as an opportunity to repay their sacrifices. Martelli is no stranger to the Casper family either, as Brendan father, Rob, played high school basketball for Martelli.
“I called my parents immediately and they already knew because [Martelli] already told them,” Casper said, “I’m just really happy for them because they’ve sacrificed so much for me up to this point and now I can do that for them.”
Casper may be polite off the court, but he has a different side when he’s on the court, which Martelli revealed on Saturday.
“He seems like the nice suburban kid and all this other stuff,” said Martelli, “We don’t have a guy on our team that talks more trash than him in practice. He and Dre go at it.”
Casper denies none of this and embraces it as a major aspect of his playing style.
“I’m always on the scout team, so I’m always playing against the starters and I never take anything from anyone,” Casper said, “I think I can score on anyone so I go at all of them. You know me and Isaiah and me and Deandre fight every day. I love it, I love getting them going, makes practice more fun.”
That confidence, and hard work, got him to Saint Joseph’s to play Division I and it further allowed him to improve and earn him a scholarship. And it will continue to help the Hawks for the foreseeable future.