(Photo: Virginia Athletics)
During his time at Virginia, Shamel Bratton, along with his twin brother Rhamel, was one of the most electrifying players in the game.
Coming into college, Shamel was the No. 1 rated recruit and Rhamel was the No. 2 rated recruit, according to Inside Lacrosse. At the time, they received, arguably, the most attention any high school players in the sport every had. The Bratton Twins were truly the face of Virginia and one of the faces of college lacrosse during the late 2000s and early 2010s.
Shamel Bratton had the kind of speed and quickness to him that allowed him to shake defenders with ease, providing at least one highlight reel dodger per game. Bratton was also one of the best sharpshooters in college lacrosse. Overall, he was the kind of player that gave defenses nightmares.
While many may remember Shamel Bratton for his 2010 season where he had those highlight reel goals against Duke in both the regular season and the NCAA tournament, 2009 was his best season statistically.
Coming into the 2009 season, Bratton was coming off of a freshman campaign in 2008 where he was a top-10 scorer for the Cavaliers, tally 18 points (14G/4A). And while he was able to turn heads and had multiple flashes of greatness during his freshman season, he never saw the field as a starter. But the expectations were certainly high for his sophomore season in 2009.
Bratton lived up to those expectations his sophomore year. The Huntington, N.Y. native more than doubled his point total from the prior season, tallying a career-high 42 points (31G/11A), ranking fourth in goals and points for the Cavaliers.
The 2009 season is where the legend of Shamel Bratton was born. Every time that you turned on a Virginia lacrosse game you knew that you were going to see not only one of the best offenses in the nation, but one of the most electrifying players in the game. And every time that number one had the ball in his stick, something magical was surely going to happen. Whether it was a blazing shot from the outside or a defender getting his ankled broken, Bratton was going to pull something special out of the bag almost every single possession.
Bratton’s best two games during the 2009 season were against Syracuse in the regular season and against Johns Hopkins in the NCAA tournament.
In a matchup between No. 1 and No. 2 at the Dome on February 27th, 2009, the 2nd-ranked Virginia Cavaliers took down the top-ranked Syracuse Orange by a score of 13-12. While the two squads were tied at 4-4 at the half, a huge second for the Cavaliers helped to push them ahead. Despite a second half Orange comeback, the Cavaliers were able to hold on for the win.
Part of that Cavaliers’ big second half was Shamel Bratton’s explosion. The midfielder had two goals in the third and one less than a minute into the fourth to put the Cavaliers up 11-6. Bratton also had an assist to Garrett Billings on a man-up goal in the third. Bratton ended the game with five points (4G/1A) in the Virginia victory.
In the NCAA tournament, the Cavaliers beat the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays 19-8 in the quarterfinals to move onto the semifinals where they would fall to eventual runner-up Cornell. In that Hopkins win, it was Steele Stanwick, Garrett Billings, and Shamel Bratton who really led the way.
Bratton ended the game with five goals. Three came in the first half and two came in the second quarter, as Bratton’s stellar shooting day helped lead the Cavaliers to a victory and a Championship Weekend berth.
While those two games stand out amongst Bratton’s best, statistically, during his best statistical year at Virginia, the superstar midfielder was able to replicate much of the same success the following season in 2010 as a junior, tallying 41 points and leading the Cavaliers back to Championship Weekend.
Shamel Bratton is one of the best midfielders to step on the field during the last decade-plus in college lacrosse. And with Rhamel, the Bratton twins are still heralded as one of the most dynamic duos in the history of the sport.