Some time had passed since a big recruiting breakthrough came for the Red Storm, but welcome news came on Monday night.
Branch averaged just over four points, two rebounds, and two assists in 18 minutes per game as a freshman for Texas A&M this season under head coach Billy Kennedy.
The 6-3 guard is an interesting case because he committed to play for the Aggies when Mark Turgeon was at the helm back in late 2007. Branch maintained his commitment to Texas A&M, even after Turgeon left for Maryland and Billy Kennedy took over the team.
This time around, Maryland, because of the obvious prior relationship between Turgeon and Branch, was the other school Branch was considering, before ultimately choosing St. John’s.
Branch was a top 75 prospect, coming out of the highly-regarded Grace Prep (TX), making for a possible All-Texas backcourt for the Red Storm, when paired with freshman D’Angelo Harrison.
Jerome Branch, Jamal’s father, told Scout.com’s Evan Daniels that Harrison’s presence had an influence on the decision.
“[St. John’s] has a serious need for him. D’Angelo [Harrison] being around helped. It’s a good fit for him,” said the elder Branch.
Branch is said to be an athletic defender and natural scorer, with a knack for distributing the basketball, as well.
With the transfer of Nurideen Lindsey back in December, St. John’s had a vacancy at the point guard position.
In compliance with NCAA transfer rules, Branch would be eligible to play for St. John’s after the first semester of the 2012-13 school year, very similar in timing as to when Amir Garrett joined the team, this season.