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Friday, January 10, 2014

By Al Myatt

Al Myatt

Dad gets to see Brandan Stith in person

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

There will be any number of intriguing circumstances as East Carolina hosts Old Dominion in the Conference USA basketball opener for both programs on Saturday night at 7, the most compelling of which may be the father-son dynamic of Bryant and Brandan Stith.

Bryant Stith, the former Virginia star and NBA veteran, is an assistant coach for the Monarchs. His son, Brandan, is a productive freshman forward for the Pirates.

"Just friendly competition," Brandan Stith said Thursday.

This will be the first time Bryant Stith has seen his son play on the college level in person, although he did watch ECU play Duke on television in November.

"I don't think it will be a distraction," said the younger Stith, who is averaging team highs in rebounds (9.5) and blocked shots (1.6). "It will probably be more motivation than anything else. I would just like to show my dad that everything he's taught me I'm trying to incorporate into my game right now.

"There wouldn't be a better time to prove that than with him on the sideline."

This is Bryant Stith's first season at ODU. He's working for Jeff Jones, who coached him at UVa. The elder Stith guided Brunswick County to three straight Virginia state Class 3 high school basketball championships with Brandan playing an increasingly-prominent role in the Bulldogs' success. His younger son, B.J., will join the Cavaliers basketball program next season.

Bryant Stith was a freshman at Virginia when Pirates coach Jeff Lebo was a senior in the UNC-Chapel Hill program. Lebo, coincidentally, played for his dad, Dave Lebo, on the high school level in Carlisle, PA. The senior Lebo assisted his son at Auburn and currently helps out with the program at D.H. Conley High School in Greenville.

Stith was ACC Rookie of the Year in 1989 when ECU athletic director emeritus Terry Holland was coaching the Cavaliers. Stith completed his college career under Jones and became Virginia's all-time leading scorer. Jones' son, Jeff, is currently playing for the Cavaliers.

Bryant Stith is looking forward to ODU's first C-USA hoops contest.

"I'm ecstatic to have an opportunity as a father to see him realize his dream," said the Monarchs assistant. "He's loved the game of basketball since he was six years old. He's worked hard to be the young man and basketball player he has become. I'm so happy he has the opportunity to show the world what I had the opportunity to see as his basketball coach."

Brandan Stith said he beat his dad once playing one-on-one. Their matchups in Horse are another story.

"He still has his shooting skills," Brandan said.

Brandan said he talks to his dad about every other day on the phone.

Bryant Stith played in 601 NBA games. He has considerable perspective to offer.

"No matter what happens on the scoreboard, it's a no-lose situation for me," he said.

The Pirates play ODU again on March 6 in Norfolk.

E-mail Al Myatt

PAGE UPDATED 01/10/14 03:25 AM.

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