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Frazier off to roaring start for Loughlin Lions

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Branden Frazier was one of the first to know that Doron Lamb, Bishop Loughlin’s sensational shooting guard, decided to transfer last summer to Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.

Last season, as Frazier was leading the JV in scoring at 21 points per game, Lamb was tearing up the CHSAA Class AA division, guiding the Lions to the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan title and the intersectional semifinals, scoring 22 points per game. Lamb went back and forth about leaving.

When it was official Lamb told Frazier: “Have a good season and take my spot.”

Since then the junior has seamlessly taken over the off guard spot from Lamb. In two non-league games, Frazier scored 28 points, dropping 17 in the season opener against Forest Hills, with Lamb in attendance, and 11 in Sunday’s 74-47 victory over Brooklyn Collegiate in the 34th annual Kangaroo Basketball Classic at LIU.

“I would’ve liked to play with him,” Frazier said of his close friend. “But now that he’s not here there’s more for me to do. I just figured somebody had to step up.”

Frazier admitted Lamb’s transfer pushed him during the summer. Then coach Khalid Green, who resigned this fall to take a college scouting job with the New Jersey Nets, told him if he continued to progress at his current pace the position was his. He was also pushed by fellow junior Jayvaughn Pinkston, his teammate on the New Heights AAU team and Loughlin.

“He said it’s my time,” the 6-foot-2, 150-pound Frazier recalled.

In his varsity opener Frazier was far from shy, taking several open shots in his first quarter. He is also an adept distributor having averaged 11 assists per game on the JV last season, and can run the point.

“Brandon is just starting to understand he can compete at a high level,” interim Lions coach Rudy King said. “He’s starting to come into his own.”

At the mere mention of Thursday’s scrimmage against New Jersey power St. Patrick’s and its star guard Dexter Strickland, Frazier’s smile grew large and his eyes widened.

“It’s going to be a lot of pressure,” he said of facing the North Carolina-bound star, “but I like that.”

He later added: “I just felt like if I was nervous, I wouldn’t live up to expectations. My confidence is there.”

One reason is King. Frazier was asked to play varsity last year, but only in a secondary role coming off the bench. He preferred to stay on the JV, with King. He felt comfortable there, since King also coaches him at New Heights.

It’s why the interim coach isn’t the last bit surprised by Frazier’s stellar play, nor that of other guards such as Anthony Hamer, Mike York and Antoine Brown who either played JV last year and sat on the bench on varsity. They face the top competition every summer in national AAU tournaments, so New York City isn’t as tough.

“My guys,” King said, “are ready.”

“If we can play together,” said Hamer, the senior point guard who played in just 12 of 22 games last season, “we can do anything.”

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