Welcome Home: The Journey of Brandan Kearney That Led Him Back to Detroit and Beyond

Brandan Kearney suited up for three schools over his four years in the NCAA, and now finds himself with the Moncton Miracles of the NBL Canada. Before coming to Moncton, Kearney played for his hometown Detroit Titans to be closer to family, friends, and his daughter. Source: Stu Switzer)
Brandan Kearney suited up for three schools over his four years in the NCAA, and now finds himself with the Moncton Miracles of the NBL Canada. Before coming to Moncton, Kearney played for his hometown Detroit Titans to be closer to family, friends, and his daughter. (Source: Stu Switzer)

The number of player transfers in the NCAA seem to increase year after year, and nobody really knows the real reason why players choose to look for a new home.

Some are looking for more playing time, some are moving due to dismissals from school, and some transfer for family reasons. Ultimately, the list of reasons could go on and on, and you don’t really find the root of the situation unless you take the time to listen to the player tell their side of the story.

Coming out of high school, Brandan Kearney was a coveted prospect. From Southeastern High School in Detroit, MI, he opted to play for the Michigan State Spartans over the likes of the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes, among others.

After two years donning the green and white, Kearney transferred from the program and committed to the Arizona State Sun Devils. One year later, he transferred again, this time to play for his hometown school, the Detroit Titans.

On the surface, most would assume that he was looking for the right fit, or that there was something going on between coach and player.

When you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that there’s more to the story than meets the eye. His journey is one that many in his situation don’t have to go through at his age, but he made the right moves that will set himself and his family up for the best future possible.

Out of high school, Kearney was rated 91 overall by ESPN, and was the 36th-ranked shooting guard in the Class of 2011.

He had the talent, and Coach Izzo wanted to keep him in the state of Michigan.

Kearney committed to the Spartans back in 2010, and looked to make an impact right away. Coming into a team that had the likes of Keith Appling and a young Travis Trice also in the back court, opportunities would be limited.

Kearney appeared in 34 games in 2010-11, averaging 1.2 points per game while playing 9.2 minutes per contest. He shot 47.2% from the floor.

In his second season, the Spartans added even more talent to the back court, as Gary Harris and others committed to East Lansing, thus creating more of a logjam at the guard spots.

Kearney appeared in 13 games that season, averaging 16.9 minutes per contest before his decision to transfer.  The crowded back court, and limited opportunities to showcase his talents, were what sent him on his way.

“Brandan became impatient,” said his father, Derrick Kearney. “He loves Michigan State and Coach Izzo, and Coach Izzo loves him, but he became impatient.”

“They brought in players like Gary Harris, and the playing time wasn’t there.”

After transferring from Michigan State, Kearney committed to play at Arizona State. While he was playing for the Sun Devils, things were tough, because Kearney had a daughter back at home.

The only thing is, she was back in his hometown of Detroit, and he was across the country playing for Arizona State.

So, after only 19 games in a Sun Devils’ uniform, Kearney was on the move once again.

When his hometown team came calling, he committed. Back home in Detroit as a member of the Titans, the Kearney family was back together.

Night after night, Kearney was able to suit up for his hometown Titans, in front of his family and friends inside Calihan Hall.

“It was great, playing my last year in front of friends and family” said Kearney. “I had a kid, which was one of the reasons I came home, so it was great to be able to play in front of her and be home with her.”

While playing for the Titans, Kearney got plenty of opportunities to showcase his talents. He appeared in 33 games, averaging 20.8 minutes per contest and 6.3 points per game. Kearney shot 43.8% from the floor, and 36.1% from three point range on the season.

It was a strong ending to an NCAA career that saw Kearney look for his opportunity to showcase his abilities.

With his collegiate career behind him, Kearney was once again looking for his next opportunity in the basketball world, and it came in the form of the NBL Canada.

Much like when he came out of high school, Kearney was a hot commodity with the NBL Canada draft looming, and several teams were looking into his services. In the end, he landed with the Moncton Miracles, who wanted him more than any other team in the league.

“I went to a couple of combines, and then I was in negotiations with a few teams,” said Kearney, about the process following graduation. “I connected with David Magley real well, the Commissioner, and he hooked me up with the spot out in Moncton.”

“I actually went to the NBL Canada Combine out in Brampton, and did real well there, and then Moncton traded up and drafted me 2nd overall.”

Over his collegiate career, Kearney was a strong shooter, and he has continued that trend with the Miracles. He has appeared in all 13 games this season, and is shooting a dazzling 54.1% from three point range. With his shooting ability, he is making his case for more minutes in the Miracles’ systems.

After playing for three schools in four years in college, the reasons for his moves are rather simple. He was looking for an opportunity to shine when he made the decision to commit to Arizona State.

But, once family came into the picture, priorities seemed to take over, and Kearney made the decision to return home to be with his family and newborn daughter.

Most would look at the surface and assume something happened internally between player and coach, or he was transferring for selfish reasons. Dig a little deeper, and you find a story about a basketball player who moved around to set himself up for the best future possible, but returned home as soon as possible to be the best father he could to his young daughter.

Kearney is just 12 games into his NBL Canada career with Moncton, but he has already developed some love for the town.

“I’ve been away from home before, but it’s different because it’s in a different country,” said Brandan, when asked about his transition to living in Moncton. “It’s a world inside a world up there.”

“But, I love it there! They really love their basketball there. I could see myself going back to Moncton if I continue to play in the league next year.”

If his career to date is any indication, he could be on the move again next season.

His career has taken him from Detroit to East Lansing, from East Lansing to Tempe, from Tempe back to Detroit, and then from Detroit to Moncton. He has travelled across the United States and back, and up to the East Coast of Canada, looking for his next opportunity to shine and showcase his talent on the hardwood.

At just 22 years of age, his peak years haven’t even come yet. The talent is there, the potential is there, the support system is there, and Kearney is putting it all to use in the hopes of achieving his ultimate goal.

“The NBA,” concluded Kearney.

When asked what team he would choose to play for if he could, he wasted little time with his answer.

“The Phoenix Suns.”

Amidst all his travels, Brandan Kearney has made the necessary decisions to set himself, and his family, up for the best future possible.

In those decisions, and in his basketball future, he will never forget the school that first gave him a shot out of high school.

“Brandan still bleeds green and white,” concluded Kearney’s father.

– T.B.