Branch signs with Louisburg

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 25, 2007

AHOSKIE – Antonio Branch is following the footsteps of his coach.

Branch, a senior at Hertford County High School, is headed to play at Louisburg College, the alma mater of HCHS Athletic Director and Head Boy’s Basketball Coach Charles Simmons.

On Wednesday afternoon, Branch became the ninth Bear this year to sign a scholarship to play intercollegiate athletics.

“I liked the basketball program and the surroundings,” Branch said of Louisburg. “It’s somewhere I feel like I can go in and contribute quickly.”

Louisburg Head Men’s Basketball Coach Aaron Denton agreed.

“I think if Antonio continues to show the things he has learned here at Hertford County, he has a chance to contribute early,” Denton said. “It makes a big difference to have been coached in high school.

“What Coach Simmons and his staff taught him here will help with the adjustment to college,” the coach added.

Branch said he felt better prepared because of playing for Simmons and his staff as well.

“They’ve meant a lot to me,” he said. “They have taught me things to help me get where I’m at now.”

The recruiting process began when Simmons made contact with Louisburg to talk about Branch and what he felt the HCHS senior could offer the college.

“I thought he needed to go to a junior college,” Simmons said. “I felt it would be a good experience for him.

“Having played at Louisburg College myself, and knowing the tradition there, I felt it would be a good fit for him,” he added.

Denton said he received a call from Simmons and then Branch came to visit with Bears’ assistant coach Jeff Ramsey.

“After that we worked it out for him to come and play with our guys on campus,” Denton said. “He played hard, great defense and created his own shot n just like we were told.

“I could see through that we were interested,” the coach added. “We want guys to play hard and that is one of the things that impressed me about him.”

From there, the two sides reached a recruiting agreement which led to Branch signing on Wednesday.

“I think the Louisburg experience will help Antonio grow as a young man,” Simmons said. “He’s the type of person who will benefit from one-on-one attention because of the small class size and he can grow into the basketball player he can be.”

Simmons said Branch may not have been the most gifted athlete on the 2006-2007 HCHS basketball squad, but was the best true basketball player.

“He handles the ball well, makes unbelievable passes and his shooting has improved tremendously,” Simmons said. “He can shoot the three and penetrate.”

Branch was a three-year varsity letterman at HCHS who played on the Sectional Championship team of 2005-2006 and was a two-year starter.