Diplomat Spotlight: Brandon Federici ’18
On a late winter night in Mayser Gym, Franklin & Marshall built a 22-point lead over Dickinson with fewer than eight minutes left in a men’s basketball game, only to see the Red Devils stage a furious rally and shave the deficit to two with 1:40 to play.
There was little doubt as to who would take the next shot for the Diplomats.
That responsibility would fall to record-setting guard Brandon Federici ’18—and never mind that he had gone scoreless to that point in the game, a result of Dickinson’s unerring defense and his own foul trouble.
Following a timeout, the Diplomats executed one of the patented baseline inbounds plays favored by veteran coach Glenn Robinson, and Federici wound up with a 3-point attempt from the right corner. He swished it, essentially deciding the game.
It has been an oft-repeated scene over the last four years, for the 6-foot 4-inch Federici has made so many shots, great and small, that he became the leading scorer not only in F&M men’s basketball history, but also in Centennial Conference (CC) history. With 2,072 points, he is the first CC men’s player to eclipse the 2,000 mark.
The business and Italian joint major received numerous awards after leading the Diplomats to their 17th appearance in the NCAA Division III Sweet 16. Among the highlights of a lengthy list: CC Player of the Year, NABC second-team All-American, D3hoops.com Middle Atlantic Region Player of the Year, and Academic All-American. And for the second straight year, he was a finalist for the prestigious Jostens Trophy, which honors one men’s player and one women’s player in Division III on the basis of basketball ability, academic prowess and community service.
Federici, averaging more than 19 points a game in his career, called it a “humongous honor” to achieve such heights, and his coach was no less impressed.
“I’m not all that enamored with flash-in-the-pan stuff,” said Robinson, whose 952 victories are a Division III men’s basketball record. “It’s sustainability and consistency and success over a long period of time that impress me.”
Robinson also marvels at the many ways on-court success can be achieved—at the manner in which Federici’s playing style differs from that of the school’s three previous record-holders, Donnie Marsh ’79, James McNally ’11 and Georgio Milligan ’12.
Marsh was a surpassing athlete who worked tirelessly to round out his game; he remains the only F&M player ever drafted by an NBA team (Atlanta Hawks, third round). McNally was a versatile forward and Milligan a bold, aggressive guard who defied defenders’ best attempts to stay in front of him.
Federici is subtler, craftier. As was the case on his critical shot against Dickinson, he combines a preternatural feel for the defense with almost limitless shooting range.
“Anywhere past the 3-point line seems to be his spot,” said teammate Matthew Tate ’18.
Federici does, however, have more in common with previous Diplomat luminaries than it might appear. “They’re alike in that they just could capitalize,” Robinson said. “As soon as the opposition would give them a crack, they were right there. They were ready. And they were relentless.”
Federici played four years at Colts Neck High School in New Jersey, then another at Lawrenceville School in that same state, where his coach was F&M grad Ron Kane ’88. While he considered bigger schools during his recruitment, F&M was always in the picture.
“I’ve saved every letter from recruiting I’ve ever gotten—hundreds of letters,” he said. “Probably a third of them are from F&M. We’re talking hand-written: ‘Can’t wait for you to be here.’”
He was an immediate starter, much to his surprise, and an immediate success. And if he initially caught opponents unawares, he drew increased defensive attention with each passing year.
“It was definitely an adjustment, and obviously sometimes frustrating,” says Federici. “Just like (being the recipient of) jersey pulls and trash-talking in my ear, and heckling from the fans. But you’ve got to use that as fuel. There’s a reason they’re doing this. You’ve got to brush it off.”
“I kind of keep that shooter’s mentality,” he said. “When you’re shooting 0-for-10, 0-for-80, you’ve just got to think that the next one’s going to go in.”
There were, in time, more than 2,000 reasons to believe.