It’s Last Dance Time for Vermont’s Latest Grad Transfer
What a wild ride it’s been for incoming grad transfer Bernie Andre. The latest Vermont transfer has had quite the journey before finally reaching Catamount country, including time spent in Florida, North Carolina, New York, Alabama, and Arizona. Now, the 6’6 wing/forward has arrived at his final collegiate destination, as he prepares to embark on what we all hope will be his most successful season to date. It’s the new school, same story for Andre, as the former NAU standout looks to cap his career with the Cats with an America East Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament to boot.
Before settling on Vermont, Andre had a long list of potential suitors (over 35 division one offers), but ultimately chose the Catamounts citing the winning culture and commitment to excellence that’s been established by John Becker and rest of the coaching staff as a major selling point. Change of scenery is nothing new for Andre, as he’s made his fair share of pit stops along the way. With a proven track record of success at each stop, Andre should have no problems getting acclimated to the America East pace of play.
Most recently Andre was a key member for the NAU Lumberjacks out of the Big Sky Conference. In his first year (2018-19) in Flagstaff, AZ, Andre made an immediate impact, averaging 13.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game – leading the Lumberjacks in both categories. For his efforts, Andre was crowned the Big Sky Newcomer of the Year. His numbers dipped slightly in year two, but the hybrid wing still boasts a 12.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists career average during his two year span in Flagstaff.
The Catamounts have quite the void to fill at wing with the departure of Everett Duncan and an even bigger hole at power forward with two time America East Player of the Year Anthony Lamb moving on. Andre is a phenomenal scorer and rebounder who should be able to help fill the void left by these two former Catamount greats. The Cats will likely utilize a committee approach to match the production of Lamb and Duncan, though don’t be surprised if Andre quickly becomes a top-three scorer for Vermont. If Andre buys in and plays his role to perfection, he’ll be on the fast track to securing his first NCAA Tournament appearance.
How Andre can Make an Impact
Out of all the new additions Catamounts to this year’s roster (Murphy, Mazzulla and Lefebvre), Andre will likely provide the greatest on-court impact. His ability to score at will and clean up the glass will be much needed after losing all-time Catamount great, Anthony Lamb. At 6’6, 210lbs, Andre can man-handle smaller opponents on the wing and even slide over to the PF spot when the Cats want to run smaller line-ups. With so many talented guards on the roster, expect to see John Becker take full advantage of these potential mismatches and wear down his opponents with an up-tempo pace.
During his final season at NAU (19-20), Andre averaged 11.2 points and 6.6 boards a game. In 18 of the 30 games he appeared in, Andre would break the double-digit scoring margin, while averaging 15.7 points over the final 11 games of the year. Likewise, Andre was a beast on boards, pulling down 5+ rebounds a game in 22 games. For a Cats team that is set to lose their top scorer and rebounder (Lamb), these numbers have to be music to the ears of every Catamount fan.
Even with Lamb in tow, the Cats spread the ball around quite a bit, using a balanced attack to break down opposing defenses. Last year it was Stef Smith and Ryan Davis who emerged as the new faces of Vermont basketball. The duo of Smith and Davis project to be the Cat’s primary focal points on offense. Throw in an attacking Andre and the Cats have a dynamic three-head monster where anyone of aforementioned big three can go off for 20+ on a given night. Andre has the muscle to beat defenders in the paint, the quickness to blow past them and the stroke to hit it from deep. The America East is officially on notice.
While Andre’s production on the court is likely to be his greatest contributions, his years of experience will no doubt play a significant role with the development of the Catamounts underclassmen. On paper the Cats boast the most talent out of all the America East teams, but what truly sets them apart is their leadership and composure both on and off the court. Andre will be one of, if not the oldest members on the team this year and as an elder statesman he knows that some of the younger players will need to lean on him at times. His outgoing and bubbly personality should make not just a great teammate and mentor, but a great friend.
Room for Improvement?
From a statistical standpoint there aren’t too many glaring holes that need to be addressed. If you really wanted to nitpick you could argue that Andre’s assist-to-turnover ratio isn’t great (72-108), but his style of play is far more centered around attacking with the ball in his hands, rather than facilitating. With Smith, Davis and a plethora of other highly-skilled and talented individuals across the roster, Andre’s assist numbers may very well see an uptick, but again, he wasn’t brought in to pass the rock.
Realistically there are only two matters worth mentioning – though neither should be labeled as a concern or red flag. First would be how Andre handles a smaller role or less minutes. While at NAU, Andre averaged 28.8 minutes a game. Even with the Cats being thin on the wing, it’s hard to envision Andre averaging close to 30 minutes a game. Andre is a hell of a player and could ultimately play his way into those type of minutes, but as previously mentioned, John Becker prefers a more balanced approach to keep his team fresh throughout the season. At NAU, Andere was the top dog, whereas now he becomes the second, third or even fourth option. While the coaching staff has likely discussed this with Andre already, he’ll have to be prepared to accept whatever role is asked of him moving forward.
Tying into this point will also be Andre’s ability to pick up and learn John Becker’s system. We’ve previously seen transfers and freshmen eased into playing time as to not overwhelm them with new concepts and schemes. Andre must first earn the trust of the coaching staff before he even sniffs 20+ minutes a game. Luckily, this is nothing new for Andre, as his basketball journey has brought him to numerous stops along the way, while showing the ability to adapt at a moments notice. Hopefully it will be another quick learning curve for Andre, as the Catamounts will surely need to lean on the elder wing to carry the team at times.
What type of goals should Andre have in mind for the upcoming year? The young man had a great deal of individual success during his time at NAU. Some of the more notable accolades from his time in Flagstaff included being named the Big Sky Newcomer of the Year (2018-19), selected to the All-Big Sky Third Team and being the first Lumberjack in over four years to capture a Big Sky Player of the Week award. Can Andre create the same of type success at the America East level?
Unfortunately, the America East doesn’t extend a “Newcomer of the Year” award, though with the ever-growing number of transfers joining the America East and success they’ve had (Malik Ellison), it would seem like a logical accolade to add. While we wait on the America East to create such an award out of thin air, Andre’s goal should be to capture this faux-title. Hartford’s Malik Ellison was the runaway favorite last year for top transfer and while he wasn’t officially recognized as the best “newcomer”, Ellison had an incredible season and was more than deserving of this all but contrived award. Despite a lack of recognition that comes with it, Andre’s focus should be on becoming the preeminent transfer in the America East for 2020-21.
Other individual goals that actually do exist that Andre could find himself in contention for include America East All-Team selections and Player of the Week accolades. Due to his high-scoring and stat sheet stuffing nature, Andre will definitely hold a greater appeal in the eyes of fans and coaches who watch him play. This should translate well for Andre and hopefully helps him continue to grow his resume even more. Andre has previously spoken about playing at the professional level as a dream of his. Both individual and team success will play a significant role in Andre’s future, as both are without a doubt huge motivational factors towards his end goal.
The individual goals and accomplishments are nice, but at the end of the day team’s success far outweighs that of the individual. Andre was a great player at NAU, yet the Lumberjacks were mediocre at best. In the two years that Andre spent there, the Lumberjacks went 10-21 and 16-14 with no postseason appearances. On the other end of the spectrum, the Cats have won 20+ games in 12 straight years. With only one year left, this will be Andre’s last chance at reaching the NCAA Tournament. This Catamount team will be the most talented group of players he’s had the chance to suit up with yet and his best chance at capturing that elusive NCAA Tournament bid.
The Catamounts brought Andre in to be a playmaker and that’s exactly what he needs to be. His scoring and rebounding will be a welcome addition after the loss of the illustrious Anthony Lamb. Although Andre was essentially brought in to be the heir replacement to Lamb, he shouldn’t get wrapped up in trying to replicate everything Lamb did for the Cats. Lamb was a transcendental and once in a generation talent. Andre just needs to play his game and let the rest come naturally.
There is a chance that fan-favorite Bailey Patella could initially start over Andre due to his knowledge of the system and ability to out-hustle everyone on the court. Patella is a phenomenal player in his own right, but Andre is by far the superior scorer and likely better fit in the starting line-up. John Becker won’t just anoint Andre a starting role, so the combo wing best come prepare to play and practice hard every day.
At NAU Andre was the guy for the Lumberjacks. In all likelihood Andre won’t be averaging close to 30 minutes a game or 13+ points a game. However, more talent around him means more open looks. Andre should still find himself near the top of the pecking order and could even lead the Cats in scoring during certain stretches throughout the season. It’s now time for Andre’s final chapter – here’s hoping he can go out with an America East Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance to boot.
2020-21 Statistical Predictions
- 22.3 minutes per game
- 10.4 points per game
- 6.3 rebounds per game
- 1.0 assists per game