Hours be­fore a col­lege­bound Bronx bas­ket­ball star was fa­tally shot, he made a quick phone call to his un­cle to talk about the fu­ture.

Bran­don Hen­dricks, 17, had just grad­u­ated from Metropoli­tan Sound­view High School last week and he needed a lit­tle cash — and some ad­vice — be­fore head­ing out for a friend’s birth­day bar­be­cue on Sun­day.

“We spoke [at around] 9:30 last night,” said Hen­dricks’ dev­as­tated un­cle, Noel El­li­son. “Two hours later, he was gone.”

“We were talk­ing about the things he had to do in prepa­ra­tion to go to col­lege,” El­li­son said out­side the fam­ily’s Mel­rose home — across the street from a grow­ing side­walk memo­rial to honor the slain teen.

“He was noth­ing but a beau­ti­ful, stel­lar child, a young­ster beloved by ev­ery­one he comes across,” said El­li­son, who of­ten at­tended church with his nephew. “He’s the kid you want your daugh­ter to marry.”

Hen­dricks was shot in the neck on David­son Ave. near W. 176th St. in Mor­ris Heights, about 2 miles from home, just be­fore mid­night Sun­day, cops said.

His friend Ham­mad Sin­gle­ton, 18, said he was with Hen­dricks at the cook­out when the gun­shots ex­ploded.

“In the blink of an eye, [Hen­dricks] is run­ning. I turned around, he called me, ‘I got hit!’ ” Sin­gle­ton told the Daily News.

“I grabbed him and we’re run­ning. I’m like ‘C’mon c’mon, we can’t stop right here,’ ’cuz there was more shots go­ing on. He started wob­bling so I sat him down. My friend took off his Tshirt. I’m hold­ing it for him and I’m talk­ing to him. [I asked], ‘You good, Bro’? He’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m OK.’

“[I asked again], ‘You good, Diddy? Wake up, wake up!’ ” said Sin­gle­ton, re­fer­ring to Hen­dricks by his nick­name. “He’s try­ing to smile, talk to me, ‘Yo, Bam I love you! Call my mom. Make sure you call my mom, Bro.’

“And that was the last words he said, and he closed his eyes. I tried to hold him … I didn’t know what to do. My phone was dead. I was like in panic mode.”

“It re­ally wasn’t meant for us,” he said of the shoot­ing, not­ing nei­ther he nor Hen­dricks were drink­ing or do­ing drugs at the party. “He don’t de­serve that, and I don’t de­serve to see my friend die right in front of my face.”

Medics rushed the teen to St. Barn­abas Hos­pi­tal, but he could not be saved. There have been no ar­rests.

“He didn’t do drugs, no gangs,” the teen’s griev­ing mom, Eve Hen­dricks, told re­porters. “He had a bas­ket­ball schol­ar­ship. He was go­ing to col­lege.”

The sense­less death comes amid a stun­ning spike in shoot­ings in the last week, with 63 in­ci­dents city­wide — a to­tal of 85 peo­ple shot, seven fa­tally — be­tween June 22 and June 28, po­lice said Mon­day.

Dur­ing the same pe­riod last year, there were 26 shoot­ing in­ci­dents — with 33 peo­ple shot and nine fa­tal­i­ties, po­lice data show.

Hen­dricks — a beloved team cap­tain for the Mon­roe Ea­gles — had no crim­i­nal record.

“He looked out for his fel­low team­mates and he was very, very sup­port­ive,” his coach, Nigel Thomp­son, told The News. “[They] loved him, even though he was the cap­tain and some­times he had to ride them a bit and push them. He just al­ways found a way to do it in such a pos­i­tive way.”

“He was just a very re­spected bas­ket­ball player. He has a quick han­dle, you know a quick drib­bler, and gets it to the bas­ket quickly, a solid de­fender,” he added. “He was al­ways re­spect­ful, al­ways al­ways. Al­ways hum­ble. And those are some of the qual­i­ties about him that will be se­verely missed.”

An­other friend of Hen­dricks, CJ Ri­ley, 17, said he saw the teen at the hos­pi­tal just be­fore he died.

“When I got to the hos­pi­tal, he was al­ready cling­ing onto his life,” said Ri­ley, who has known Hen­dricks since the sixth grade. “Last time I seen my friend was yes­ter­day, be­fore it hap­pened. He was happy, he was so en­thu­si­as­tic, he was ready to go out for the night. I didn’t wanna see him with his eyes closed, ly­ing down, even at the fu­neral.”

“I met him when I was in mid­dle school. One of my coaches trans­ferred him to play bas­ket­ball at my mid­dle school, and we’ve been best friends since then on,” he said. “He pushed me to be bet­ter in bas­ket­ball, he was like a role model to me. “

Bran­don El­lis, 21, who used to square up against Hen­dricks on the court, praised his for­mer op­po­nent’s devo­tion to the game.

“He just work hard and wanted to per­fect his craft ev­ery day and in­clud­ing with his pride, con­fi­dence and be­ing a leader,” El­lis told The News in a text mes­sage. “Ev­ery­one knew he [was] gonna be spe­cial … Ev­ery­body in [the] bas­ket­ball com­mu­nity of NYC hurt with this one. All he wanted to do [was] smile, play ball and go to school for free.”

Thomp­son said the tal­ented young point guard, who would have turned 18 in next month, was lean­ing to­ward at­tend­ing a ju­nior col­lege in Cal­i­for­nia, and hoped one day to be­come a phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion teacher or phys­i­cal ther­a­pist.

“[Grad­u­a­tion] was a very proud mo­ment for my­self and for his fam­ily. His mom prays for him con­stantly, for his safety and to grad­u­ate and to move on to the next phase of his life,” said Thomp­son, who was also Hen­dricks’ 10th grade ge­om­e­try teacher.

“My daugh­ter usu­ally calls him my son be­cause he wasn’t just a bas­ket­ball player to me,” he said. “I said dur­ing his se­nior day, which is the last bas­ket­ball game at our school, I said to the crowd that if I had a son, I would be hon­ored if he was half as a de­cent per­son as Bran­don was.”

Bran­don Hen­dricks


Memo­rial hon­ors Bran­don Hen­dricks (be­low) in the lobby of his Bronx home. Friends and fam­ily (above r.), rais­ing five fin­gers for Hen­dricks’ jersey num­ber, hold vigil for bas­ket­ball star on court by his home. Be­low r., signed bas­ket­balls sa­lute slain teen.

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