Unless North Carolina freshman Tony Bradley knows something the general public doesn’t – and that’s certainly plausible – he took a gamble staying in the June 22 NBA draft.
The rule of thumb regarding underclassmen staying in the draft is unless you have conviction you’ll be a first-round pick (which comes with a two-year salary guarantee), you’re usually better off returning to college basketball.
It’s possible some team in the second half of the first round has discreetly told Bradley they will select him. Otherwise, the 6-11 forward, without much of a college basketball resume, could wait a while to hear his name called.
Bradley certainly has an NBA body. At the draft combine in Chicago, he was measured last month at nearly 6-11, 249 pounds and an impressive 7-5 wingspan. But he didn’t play much his one college season on a loaded Tar Heels team that won the national championship.
Playing behind Charlottean Kennedy Meeks, among others, Bradley averaged 14.5 minutes, 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds. He seemingly would have been a featured player for the Heels next season, which might have pushed him into the 2018 lottery (the first 14 picks)
“It was a tough decision,” Bradley said after working out for the Charlotte Hornets on Friday. “I feel like the combine helped me out, and with the interviews (with teams). My dad (who played at Florida A&M) and Coach (Roy) Williams helped me get feedback.
“I got the feedback that I wanted to hear,” Bradley said, adding he expects to be one of the 30 first-round picks.
Friday was Bradley’s 11th workout for an NBA team, and the Hornets have picks at No. 11 and No. 41. Bradley said he had two workouts left, for the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets.
“I was trying to show some things they wouldn’t have seen during the season. Handling the ball, show them my (shooting) range, show them my footwork,” Bradley said.
He showed good form Friday, making several shots from outside the NBA 3-point line. That could be significant to his draft prospects, with many NBA teams prioritizing shooting range from power forwards.
“I’ve been grinding every week since the season,” Bradley said. “I know I want to get better and I feel I’ve done a great job so far.”