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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


From JUCO to East Regional Champion: Brandon Weatherspoon’s basketball journey

From Holmes Community College to a Final Four with the Owls, Brandon Weatherspoon, one of three seniors on FAU’s basketball team, has come a long way from southwestern Mississippi.
Courtesy of FAU Athletics

It was the first round of the NCAA March Madness Tournament in Columbus, OH. Brandon Weatherspoon was preparing to make history by advancing to the second round with a win against the Memphis Tigers. As Brandon sanguinely embarked upon tip-off that night, not only would this be school history for Florida Atlantic, but it would be history in the Weatherspoon household as well. 

The FAU basketball star forward grew up in Canton, Mississippi, in a household with two older brothers, Quinndary and Nick, who also played basketball. Brandon was a multi-sport athlete, playing football, basketball, and baseball. Although Brandon had a strong adoration for baseball, with the help of decision-making from his father, he decided to follow behind his two older brothers and play basketball for Velma Jackson High School.

Brandon (middle) with his two brothers, Nick and Quinndary (Courtesy of Brandon Weatherspoon)

In 9th grade, Brandon joined the basketball team, where his two older brothers had won several state championships. With this set family standard, he struggled to shake the comparisons to his established brothers. 

“At that point in my career, I couldn’t do much more to get out of their shadow… It was so tough. I always tried to tell people I’m not them, I’m not trying to be them. I want to be my own self and take my own route,” Brandon said.

What Brandon and his two older brothers didn’t know was that in the next couple of years, Brandon would be a Conference-USA champion and make history with a Final Four run with the Owls.

Brandon’s older brothers made it to the NCAA tournament with Mississippi State University but came up short in the first round, something that Brandon will hold against his brothers for the rest of their lives.

“I called them the first night before we played in the first round [and said] ‘You know y’all lost in the first round, right? So if I make it past the first round, that means I got y’all, right?’  Brandon said. “I got their respect on that.”

Brandon Weatherspoon holding the C-USA Championship trophy (Courtesy of Brandon Weatherspoon)

Before he found himself helping lead the FAU basketball team, Anthony Carlyle saw many of the same qualities in Brandon. Carlyle coached both of his older brothers.

Carlyle was very instrumental in Brandon’s life at a young age. His presence in Weatherspoon’s life was about more than just basketball. Brandon shared how the two have an inseparable bond and talk often to this day.

“When I was nine or ten years old, my mom gave him a key to my house. We would be sleeping in the bed, and he would come and snatch all of the covers off and tell us to get up, we’re about to go to the gym… that’s how I knew he really cared about us,” Brandon said. “It’s so tough to explain our relationship because we’re just so close now.” 

Brandon continued to talk about how their bond grew closer and stronger over time and how it was beyond Carlyle just being a coach in his life. The former Velma Jackson coach would pick and drop him off at school and be there for whatever he needed. 

“He has always possessed the qualities of a leader. He has just now kind of come into his own. He has those qualities because of his will to win,” said Carlyle, who counts Brandon among his favorite players he has coached in his career.

“He wants to win so bad… he’s a coach’s dream when you talk about leadership,” Carlyle said.

Although Brandon surpassed his brothers’ collegiate success and made it to the Final Four, it didn’t come easy. Before committing to a university to play basketball, Brandon discovered he had to attend junior college. 

Weatherspoon wanted to follow the family’s legacy and commit to Mississippi State behind his brothers. So determined to achieve his goal of playing basketball, he was committed to doing anything necessary academically. 

Before making his way to Boca Raton, Brandon had a quick stop at Holmes Community College under head coach Jason Flanigan. The two did not meet in the traditional “coach scouting for a player,” but in fact, of a coach helping an athlete in dire need of a favor.

In the wake of the pandemic, Brandon’s main focus was to work his way onto the Mississippi State roster. Devoted to keep up with his training, he desperately sought a gym to continue his concentration on basketball. After being turned away from multiple closed gyms, Flanigan eventually welcomed him and offered him a place to practice. 

“I told him I needed a gym, and nobody would open a gym for me. [Flanigan said] ‘anytime you want to come get in the gym just call me and come.’ I just started going to his gym, and then I found out I had to go to Juco… And then he found out I had to go to Juco, and I’m coming to his gym every day,” Brandon said.

“So he gave me a call and said I’m not gonna force you to come because you’re coming to the gym every day, but before you go and visit anybody else, stop by and come see me,” Brandon said

Brandon played his freshman and sophomore year at Holmes Community College and led the Bulldogs to a NJCAA tournament. He said Flanigan was one of the most influential men in his life, helping to shape him into the man he is today. 

“Brandon came to work every day. He was like a coach for us on the floor,” said Flanigan. “He brought energy. I can say he works extremely hard, and his leadership really helped us win a championship his sophomore year… he was the main reason we won that year.” 

It is often said that there is no such thing as coincidences. Weatherspoon openly shared that before getting to FAU, he had no knowledge of the school and had no hopes of playine outside of his home state. 

Brandon Weatherspoon goes for a dunk on Lynn on Nov. 7, 2022. (Nicholas Windfelder)

When it came time for Brandon’s recruiting process to transfer and play Division I, Coach Flanigan reached out to a couple of coaches to come and take notice of a promising basketball player in Weatherspoon. One of those coaches was Florida Atlantic’s head coach Dusty May. 

Flanigan was familiar with May and his basketball program because his brother, Wes Flanigan, coached alongside May at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Being in the pandemic, the recruiting process was very different. Weatherspoon didn’t get to take an in-person campus tour, and everything was virtual and via phone calls.

Although Brandon was apprehensive about leaving and being so far from home, May’s diligence in recruiting Brandon played a huge role in his commitment to FAU. 

“The first thoughts I had of [May] was a father figure. He would call me three to four times a week, and most coaches would call once… Just the relationship we had, we could talk about anything before I ever got here.” Brandon said.

Aside from Weatherspoon only knowing FAU teammate and Mississippi native Alijah Martin at the time of his decision to commit to FAU, May gave Weatherspoon comfort and a sense of safety. 

“I dread the day I don’t have the opportunity to coach him anymore,” May said. “He brings such joy to practice, games, and weight training. He is just somebody that [makes] everyone else better because they are in his presence.”

Lys Hayes is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email her at [email protected]  or DM her via Instagram @lyshayes.

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    DwightMar 19, 2024 at 11:54 am

    Great article!!! Well put together. True. Our family knows the Weatherspoon family. Our son knows all three brothers. I’m inspired by this story. Best wishes to Brandon.

    Well done!