Whether or not Donaldsonville High junior Braxton Bernard becomes a hot commodity in recruiting circles remains to be seen. One thing is not in question — the 6-foot-4 junior’s status as one of the hottest offensive players in Louisiana.
Bernard scored a career-high 56 points in Donaldsonville’s 82-78 overtime victory over South Terrebonne High last Friday. That effort followed a 37-point effort against Assumption days earlier.
“The (South Terrebonne) game went to overtime, so I wasn’t thinking about points so much,” Bernard said. “I figured I had between 40 or 50 points because I got a lot of shots. We got off to a rough start in the beginning, and my focus was keeping everybody together to get the win.”
Here’s the breakdown on Bernard’s 56-point effort: 20-for-36 from field with two 3-pointers, 9 of 16 free throws and 14 rebounds for the Class 3A Tigers (13-6), who host rival St. James High at approximately 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t have any idea how many points he (Bernard) had,” first-year DHS coach Lionel Gilbert said. “The strongest part of his game is his mid-range game.
“Braxton had a lot of putbacks around the goal and a bunch of offensive rebounds Friday night. He was very aggressive going for rebounds whether he shot the ball or somebody else did. That made the difference.”
Gilbert is quick to point out that the 37 and 56-point efforts are part of a steady progression for the 180-pound Bernard, who is averaging between 27 and 28 points per game along with six rebounds, three steals and two assists per game.
Bernard has grown an inch since serving as a top reserve for a Donaldsonville team that advanced to the 3A semifinals and garnered a berth in the LHSAA Top 28 last spring. Bernard spent the summer working on his ball-handling and shooting skills while working with his older brother, former Assumption High, Nicholls State and Arkansas-Monticello player Gil Verner.
Southern is the only school to offer Bernard a scholarship so far, though the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is among the schools expressing interest.
“Braxton has come a long way in terms of leadership and other parts of his game,” Gilbert said. “He’s very comfortable playing around the lane or the baseline and is accurate on his pull-up jumper. We’re working to get him to bring that same intensity on defense and that’s coming.”