On a veteran St. Joseph's basketball team, freshman DeAndre' Bembry has fit in well. So well, in fact, that the 6-foot-6 forward from the Patrick School in New Jersey is expected to be in the starting lineup when the Hawks open their season Nov. 9 at Vermont.
A hotshot recruit, Bembry has kept his head down and just played, finding a way to mesh with the regulars.
"What is interesting is when you step back and watch how the older guys deal with him," St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said Thursday at Hagan Arena. "They give him a lot of respect and he gives it back."
This is a veteran team. Besides Bembry, the other projected starters are seniors Halil Kanacevic, Ronald Roberts Jr., and Langston Galloway, along with junior point guard Chris Wilson.
"He hasn't played like a freshman, which is a good thing," said Galloway, who averaged 13.8 points last season.
The Hawks are coming off an 18-14 season that included their second straight NIT berth. Bembry, who averaged 21 points per game as an all-state player in New Jersey, is expected to provide the biggest lift on the defensive end.
"His help defense is maybe the best on the team," Martelli said.
"He's got a great basketball IQ," Kanacevic added.
Bembry, who played his first two high school seasons in North Carolina, takes the court looking to make an impact on defense.
"I actually like doing it," he said. "If you score on somebody and not let them score on you, it gets them out of their game."
Bembry is considered a small forward, but he says he has played all positions.
The soft-spoken Bembry just wants to fit in with this veteran group and let his actions do the talking.
"These guys have made it comfortable for me," he said. "They understand I know how to play basketball, so I have fit right in with them."
Martelli says that Bembry, will need to improve his perimeter game. So he is far from a finished product.
But Bembry has demonstrated the type of poise that has earned the early respect of his teammates. He likely will earn plenty of playing time as well.