What a Long, Strange, Trip it’s Been… to Burlington, VT
Vermont was able to land their third and final transfer of the year, reeling in versatile wing/forward Bernie Andre. Along with incoming transfers Justin Mazzulla and Tomas Murphy, Andre possesses a great deal of proven success at the collegiate D1 level and should provide immediate assistance, as the Catamounts look to continue their dominance over the America East. Before joining the Cats, Andre racked up plenty of frequent flyer miles, as his basketball journey has taken him all across the country.
A native of Haitian descent, Andre grew up in Miami Beach, Florida, where he spent his high school years playing for Norland (Miami) as well as Combine Academy (North Carolina). From there Andre redshirted a year at Mercy College in NY, before heading back south to enroll at Wallace State in Alabama. After one year at Wallace State, Andre packed his bags again, this time heading west to join the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona. Once again, Andre would redshirt a year before finally suiting for the Lumberjacks over these past two years.
Along with the Catamounts, Andre received over 35 different D1 scholarship offers upon entering the transfer portal. The former NAU winger was in high demand, but ultimately chose Vermont, citing the winning culture that’s been established during John Becker’s tenure as a key contributing factor in his decision making process. They say change is a good thing, and in the case of Bernie Andre let’s hope the old saying holds true, as Andre looks to finish his college career hoisting an America East Conference trophy above his head.
Northern Arizona competes in the Big Sky conference and unless you spend your nights as a degenerate gambler, you’re excused from having never stayed up to watch the Lumberjacks in action. By all means though, Andre was a complete player during his time in Flagstaff. Andre made an immediate impact for NAU, winning the Big Sky Newcomer of the Year award in 18/19, as well as leading the Lumberjacks in both scoring (13.8 ppg) and rebounding (8.5) for the year. Over the two year span Andre produced career averages of 12.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 1.2 apg. Listed at 6’6 and 210 lbs, Andre has the prototypical size and length best suited for a wing/forward-esque role – an area that the Catamounts have a huge void at. John Becker and his staff will look to capitalize on Andre’s strength and versatility, as they try to replace all-time Catamount great, forward Anthony Lamb. Will Bernie Andre be up for the challenge?
How Can Andre Make an Impact?
Along with fellow transfer Tomas Murphy, Andre is expected to factor heavily into the Cats rotation next year. Andre will most likely spend the majority of his minutes on the wing, while occasionally crossing over to the power forward spot in small ball line-ups. Having spent time at various prep schools, junior colleges along with redshirting, Andre will be one of, if not the oldest player on the court at any given time. While these extra years won’t be helping his draft stock, they have benefited Andre’s overall game, as it’s given him plenty of time to tweak and refine any weak spots in his game. Likewise, his strength and physicality make him a man among boys, as he should be able to bully opposing defenders when attacking the paint.
With fan-favorite Everett Duncan set to move on, Vermont was in desperate need of help at the wing. Before Andre committed to UVM, Bailey Patella was the only small forward listed on the roster. Patella and Andre will be competing for the starting nod, but expect both to see the floor quite a bit regardless of who starts. Don’t be surprised if Andre starts, but Patella ends up with more overall minutes played. Patella regularly plays like his hair’s on fire, setting the tone with his intensity and hustle. He provided an instant spark off the bench last year and Coach Becker could ultimately decide his fiery energy off the bench gives the team the best chance of winning moving forward.
Although there isn’t great tape available from Andre’s time at NAU, you can check out his Twitter or Instagram (@just1_bernie) for short highlight packages. During his time at NAU, Andre was very productive offensively (12.8 ppg), as well as cleaning up the glass (8.5 rpg). Andre chose Vermont in part because of the winning culture, but also knowing that upon arriving he could make an immediate impact for the Catamounts. After losing two highly productive players in Anthony Lamb and Everett Duncan, Andre will be given the opportunity to shine at a Vermont program that has won 20+ games in 12 straight seasons.
Andre’s biggest strength for this Vermont team will be his years of experience. His basketball career has taken him all over the map, learning the in’s and out’s of every program along the way. Likewise, Andre plays with an attacking mindset. Whenever he has the ball in his hands he’s looking to score or make something happen. With Lamb and Duncan gone, that’s a lot of points wiped off the board. In reality, it’s difficult to foresee anyone matching Lamb’s production, as that will take a team effort, but Andre will look to fill the void the best he can. Catamount fans would be thrilled if Andre can find his groove right out of the gate and continue to average double-figures.
Any Red Flags or Injuries?
In terms of previous injuries, Andre bares a clean sheet. There’s no doubt that he’s picked up his fair share of bumps and bruises throughout the years, but with good conditioning in place he’s been able to avoid missing any significant time. UVM has struggled with lingering injuries in previous years, but ideally Andre will be able to maintain his form of good health throughout the upcoming season. Due to his aggressive and attacking nature, along with Vermont’s physical style of play, it will be interesting to watch how Andre’s season in the green and gold unfolds.
As for other potential red flags to note, Andres level of commitment to Vermont could raise some concerns. Having made numerous stops throughout his basketball journey, Andre has had trouble fully committing himself to one program. It’s hard for a player to really buy into a program and vice versa when they’re consistently jumping from one school to another year after year. In theory this might set off a few alarms for coaching staffs, but with one year of eligibility remaining, Andre has essentially pushed his chips to the middle of the table, going all in with the Catamounts for one last dance.
If Andre had two years remaining of eligibility instead of one, it could be a real crapshoot on whether he’d stay in Burlington or look to jump ship yet again. Luckily, this is essentially a one-year rental, as the coaching staff at Vermont has already begun to look for their eventual successor through 2021 recruits. With Patella also set to graduate after the year, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if John Becker and the rest of the coaching staff sought out another transfer along with a freshman to fill the wing spot come 2021.
Even with Andre in tow, there are still plenty of question marks surrounding the wing/forward portion of Vermont’s roster. Andre should be able to mesh well with the rest of the team, while helping to provide a boost on the offensive end after Lamb’s departure. Depth is still going to be an issue at the wing for UVM, but with an influx of guards we could be seeing more small-ball line-ups in Vermont’s future. Overall, Catamount fans should be feeling happy about the addition of Bernie Andre to next year’s squad. Not only does Andre fill a hole at SF, he has a chance to become an impact player for the Cats from the opening tip, therefore, this transfer grade should be around the B+/A- range. Bernie Andre joined the Cats for the chance to play in the NCAA tournament, here’s hoping he made the right choice.
After announcing his commitment to UVM, Andre spoke with a few reporters including media outlets such as Burlington Free Press, WCAX, and NBC5 about his decision. Some good quotes and interesting tidbits – like how he picked up the name Bernie from comedic legend Bernie Mac or can sing like Barry White. Worth the read if you’d like to learn more about Vermont’s latest signee.
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