After several years in the backup role, John Milledge Academy’s Brandon Panfil is adjusting to leadership.
The senior basketball player is averaging 17 points per game as the Trojans stand at 5-1 this season.
His yearly development and team first attitude finally earned Panfil U-R Athlete of the Week honors. An 18-point performance in an 11-point comeback win at Brentwood didn’t hurt either.
JMA boy’s head basketball coach Thomas Craig said the senior has fully accepted his role at the front of the line this year.
“I was concerned about who would embrace this with Brantley Attaway gone,” Craig said. “I tell you (Panfil) has taken it. He is a vocal leader, but the thing is he checks himself first. The kids look up to him. I couldn’t ask for our team to have a better leader.”
Panfil is probably the most consistent JMA player night in and night out though team success means more than individual achievement.
“I just want the team to do well. It’s not about me,” the Athlete of the Week said.
The JMA varsity group only had one complete practice with everyone before the year’s first game. The Trojans don’t have on experience on their side either.
“We definitely had to step up from last year losing some key scorers. We’ve been working together as a team so far,” Panfil said.
The senior realized he couldn’t sit back and watch others on offense.
Now, Panfil takes it to the hoop, and the outside jumpers are falling.
“I have the will to score this year more than I did last year,” he said.
The Athlete of the Week increased his strength and conditioning this past summer. Panfil worked out with the football team to get that on court edge going into his senior year.
“He took that this summer and ran with it. He’s worked hard,” Craig said.
Panfil is a gym rat that keeps everyone in the right place at tough Trojan practices.
“Doing the workouts helped get me ready for the season and more able to do stuff in games,” Panfil said.
JMA hates to see the holiday break come because of their recent winning ways. Craig has players like Panfil to keep the train moving forward.
“He’s born to be a leader. I’ve been around guys that are great athletes but just don’t accept that role. Brandon is born to do it,” Craig said. “He is dedicated in the classroom, the weight room and on the court. I wish I had him for another four years.”
Panfil and other key upperclassmen should have the Trojans prepared for the next major test at Gatewood Jan. 7.
“We have to go hard in practice to keep our streak going,” Panfil said. “We fell short of the region championship last year. It’d be good to make it to that point again and have another shot at winning it.”