Here is what UC is getting with John Brannen


Reaction to the news:

Congrats to UC, Mike Bohn and John Brannen. Brannen is an instant box checker for the UC program:

Stock watch: He's 45 years old and his stock continues to rise after guiding NKU to three consecutive postseason appearances.

Hired April 6, 2015, the job Brannen has done in building a program and transitioning NKU from Division II to Division I status has been nothing short of phenomenal. No other program in NCAA history has registered the level of accomplishments in its first three years of active D1 status as NKU. NKU is 72-29 over the past three seasons, winning the Horizon League regular season twice and league tourney twice and appearing in the NCAA Tournament twice and NIT once.

Offense: His offensive style will excite a UC fan base craving a more aesthetically pleasing style of play.

NKU's offense ranked Top-50 nationally this past season in: Points per game (39th at 79.1), FG percentage (24th), assists (7th) and assists per game (10th).

NKU led the Horizon League in scoring, assists, three-point percentage, two-point percentage and overall field-goal percentage.

The Norse offensive tempo ranked 143rd nationally (KenPom) compared to UC rankings of 338, 330, 330, 333, 339 and 328 over the last six seasons.

Brannen understands the importance of having multiple shooters on the court at the same time and how spacing makes for good offense.

NKU was the Horizon League's best three-point-shooting team (37.3 percent), averaging 8.9 three-point shots made per game.

Defense: On defense, Brannen has built NKU into a quality full-court press team. His use of the press has increased each season as he's recruited to his style, from pressing less than 5.0 percent of the time in his first season to 17.8 percent this past season.

The Norse lock down the perimeter: No. 34 nationally in three-point defense, holding opponents to just 31.3 percent.

Toughness: NKU works the glass, ranking 46th, 62nd and 49th nationally in rebounding margin over the last three seasons.

Recruiting: Brannen has recruited the region and is from the area, having graduated from Newport Central Catholic.

Brannen has successfully recruited in the SEC as an associate head coach and at the mid-major levell as a head coach.

As associate head coach at Alabama, he helped landed the nation’s No. 5 recruiting class in 2011 and the No. 21-ranked recruiting class in 2014.

As associate head coach at VCU he helped land a 2007 recruiting class ranked in the Top-20 nationally. Brannen followed that up with a 2008 class that comprised the starting five of VCU’s memorable Final Four run in 2011.

NKU junior Dantez Walton was an AP All-State first-team selection for Ohio as a HS senior in 2016. Freshman Trevon Faulkner (Harrodsburg, KY) won 2018 Kentucky Mr. Basketball.

Brannen has also played the ever evolving transfer game. He brought in Tyler Sharpe, who began his career as a walk-on at Louisville. Sharpe scored 14.4 points and hit 38.3 percent from three-point range this past season. He also added senior guard Zaynah Robinson (6.9 points, 38.3 3pt percentage) as a grad transfer from Norfolk State.

Development of players: His players get better. Jalen Tate had a breakout season for the Norse, jumping from 5.7 points, 47.0 field goal percentage and 21.4 three-point percentage as a freshman to 13.7 points, 53.9 field goal percentage and 40.7 three-point percentage as a sophomore.

Former player: Brannen adds perspective as a former player, leading the Southern Conference in scoring his senior season at Marshall (1996-97) by averaging 20.9 points per game. He also played two seasons professionally in Belgium’s First Division, even serving as a player-coach. 

Personality/Family: I've always been impressed when watching Brannen in public settings with fans. Brannen comes off as an engaging, regular guy that you'd enjoy having a beer with and talking hoops. Standing nearly 6′8″, Brannen has a presence and can certainly be fiery on the sideline and in practice. He's a husband and father and with his twin daughters at a younger age and his parents and brother living in the area you could see Brannen having a desire to stick around UC for a while.


Congrats. Props to John Brannen, the new coach of the Bearcats.

Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister covers everything in Cincinnati sports! Host of sports talk on Cincinnati News Radio 700WLW and ESPN 1530! Read more


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