The Braves Men’s basketball team took on the Indians of Catawba University on the Lumbee Guaranty Bank Court on Nov. 12.
Home fans filled the bleachers with the dancing UNCP Maniacs dawned in their usual gold jerseys and the Braves in their all white uniforms. A section of the crowd was wearing yellow t-shirts with the word “Jellybean” on them.
They weren’t sporting these shirts expressing their love and adoration for a fruit flavored, jelly-based candy, but instead in support of a loved one that was about to take the court for their third home game as a member of the UNCP Braves.
First-year freshman guard and Florence, S.C. native Jamal “Jellybean” Bryant, put on a show in his first opportunity to receive 16 additional minutes than he did in his first game. Jellybean put up 14 points, tallied three assists, nabbed five rebounds and posted an overall shooting percentage of .714 as a key cog in what was the well oiled machine that was the Braves offense on the night.
How did Jamal Bryant become known as Jellybean to his family, friends and coaches you might ask? When Bryant was freshman at Wilson High School he had a breakout game against one of the school’s fiercest rivals, the Darlington Falcons.
After he returned home from the game his father told him that he was playing like Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, the father of Hall of Fame Laker Kobe Bryant. “I was like Dad I’m like Jellybean! I’m like Jellybean!” Bryant said.
His father went on to tell him that if he was going to take on the mantle of “Jellybean” that he would have to prove he was deserving of it game in and game out.
“I went to school the next day and was like just call me Jellybean and it just kind of stuck,” Bryant said. “When I saw them come to the game with the shirt saying ‘Jellybean’ it made me feel special,” Jellybean said.
While he isn’t a fan of the Jellybeans candy, he intends to play like the Jellybean Bryant that came before him.