Avery Bradley Update

The last time Burnt Orange Nation checked in on the highly-ranked commit currently playing at Findlay Prep in Nevada, it was for a comprehensive scouting report on the future Longhorn. Since then, the 6-3, 180-pound guard has led his Findlay squad to victories in each of their nine games, aided by Illinois commit D.J. Richardson, 6-11 Carlos Lopez, headed to UNLV, uncommitted Victor Rudd (considering Arizona, Marquette, Washington, DePaul, Gonzaga, and UNLV), and 6-9 junior Godwin Okonji. Ranked No. 2 on USA Today's Super 25 rankings, Findlay plays a national schedule that now includes eight local teams, three of whom they have beaten already by an average of 53 points per game.

 

It's only the third year of the program, which has gone 40-1 under coach Mike Peck, the only loss coming to Hargrave Military Academy in the National Prep Championship title game (Findlay is not affiliated with the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, hence does not compete for state titles), a team that Bradley did not compete for, as he transferred to Findlay for the 2008-09 basketball season. The national competition the program faces prepares Findlay players well for the next level, as four former players are contributing in college basketball this season, including Kentucky's DeAndre Liggins, who has scored in double figures in four of Kentucky's last five games, with an 18-point performance against Miami. Alum Jacques Streeter has also found success at Cal State-Fullerton, scoring in double figures in five of 11 games, including back-to-back solid performances, scoring 15 points and dishing out 9 assists against Hawai'i and 13 points and 12 assists against Hope International, committing a combined two turnovers.

The latest win for Findlay came against Stoneridge Prep, 80-49, a team that features four players nearly seven feet tall. Not previously on the schedule, Stoneridge found themselves in the greater Las Vegas area and agreed to play Findlay after Rise Academy had to cancel two games against Bradley's team because of travel difficulties. Findlay scored only two points in the first eight minutes of the game (the prep school plays two 20-minute halves, like college basketball), before Bradley ignited a 16-5 run with a thunderous dunk off an inbounds play. After a Stoneridge run to cut the lead to 21-17, Findlay ran off eight consecutive points before halftime, including a layup by Bradley. Four consecutive turnovers plagued Stoneridge at the beginning of the second half, as Findlay pulled away for a 35-17 lead and was never threatened again.

Earlier in the season, Findlay crushed then-16th ranked Montverde Academy, 66-39, in a tournament in Kentucky, demonstrating their prowess against not only top competition, but also tall competition--Montverde features four players in their starting lineup 6-9 or taller (Findlay has only two above 6-9). Bradley scored 18 points in the game. Peck called the defensive effort in the second half "unbelievable" after holding Montverde to only 16 points in the final 20 minutes, an effort no doubt spurred by the defensive prowess of Bradley, evidenced by his recording two or more steals in every game, including five steals in consecutive games, while avoiding personal fouls, never committing more than two in a game.

ESPN named Bradley its RISE National Player of the Week after victories over St. Mark's and St. Andrew's, averaging 23.5 points on combined 21-33 shooting (63%), while adding 8 steals. For the season Bradley is averaging 22.9 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 3.2 steals, shooting 60% from the field, 71% on three-pointers, while making 76% of his free throws. The numbers are no doubt depressed by the star high school players around him, but the efficiency at which Bradley is playing stands out.

His only two poor shooting performances came against Stoneridge (4 of 13) and Pickering (6 of 18), but those are the exception, not the norm. Performances against New Creation Christian Academy (13 of 17 for 32 points) and Desert Pines (15 of 20 for 34 points) represent his best performances, but the consistency is impressive, as he hasn't scored fewer than 14 points in any game. Bradley's shooting has come under criticism in the past, particularly from long range, but he's been extraordinarily efficient behind the line, limiting his attempts (26 on the season, or less than three per game), but making 17 of them. In other words, he's no Justin Mason, prompting one blogger to anxiously await the appearance of Bradley on the UT campus. In fact, considering that Bradley is the least regarded long-range shooter of the three 2009 commits, the Longhorns will add some desperately needed three-point shooting next season. 

 

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