High School Sports

Shooting star: In Concord, a freshman point guard arrives on campus with a big reputation

Cannon School freshman Jaden Bradley made an All-American team this week.
Cannon School freshman Jaden Bradley made an All-American team this week. lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

This weekend, Cannon School freshman Jaden Bradley will participate in the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National mini-camp. He’ll play with 88 of the nation’s best high school basketball players.

Bradley, a 6-foot-2 point guard, is ranked No. 14 nationally among freshman by the Future 150 ranking service. He is the No. 3 recruit nationally at his position. He already has scholarship offers from Auburn and Wake Forest, and in the past few weeks, Bradley’s high school coach has spent a lot of time on the phone with coaches from Kansas, North Carolina and Louisville -- blue-blood national powers -- who are wanting to get to know Bradley better.

Concord Cannon coach Che Roth thinks he has a special talent in freshman Jaden Bradley, who has been invited to a USA Basketball Developmental camp. Langston Wertz Jr. lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

“He’s a really versatile kid,” Cannon coach Che’ Roth said, “and he gets others involved. And the thing is his vision and his feel is so advanced for a kid his age. He wants to be coached. He wants to be challenged.”

But up until very recently, like this summer, Bradley wasn’t exactly sure how good he was.

“Most of my life, I’ve been playing up (against older kids),” Bradley said. “I had to push myself because I wanted to be better than them, and I had to improve on my game. At first I didn’t want to play up. I didn’t think I was good enough. My dad said I was good and made me play. And I guess I got better.”

Bradley is one of three Carolinas players invited to the USA Basketball camp in Colorado Springs, Colo. Charlotte’s Jalen Hood-Schifino, a 6-4 freshman point guard at Northside Christian, and Charleston’s Josiah James will also participate. James, from Porter Gaud High, is a 6-7 senior point guard and a national five-star recruit committed to Tennessee.

Like James, Bradley is on track to become a high-level recruit. Bradley has a unique ability to drive past defenders and is already dunking the ball in traffic.

“You’re talking about a young kid blessed with a tremendous athleticism,” said N.C. recruiting coordinator Rick Lewis. “And he’s got a very mature game, a very advanced skill set. The thing with him is he plays extremely hard, which you don’t always see with young players of that ability and that talent.”

Concord Cannon School freshman Jaden Bradley Langston Wertz Jr. lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

At Cannon, Bradley is part of a stellar freshman class.

D.J. Nix, a 6-5 forward, has offers from East Tennessee State and South Alabama. And Harrison Alexander, a 6-7 forward, is also attracting Division I attention.

“The hardest part now,” Roth said, “is tempering expectations. We’re really excited because we do have young kids who work really hard ... We have talent, but it’s unproven talent. But their work ethic is exceptional. Their feet are firmly planted on the floor and there’s not a lot of ego, and guys who really like to compete. And Jaden is certainly one of those.”

Mialisha Bradley says her son, Concord Cannon freshman Jaden Bradley, was athletic at a very early age. Still, he’s surprised with how good he’s gotten. Bradley has Power 5 scholarship offers and hasn’t played a game yet in high school Langston Wertz Jr. lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

Bradley’s mother, Mialisha, said Jaden’s work ethic was developed at home, playing against his older brother, Nathan, now a 6-4 junior guard at Faulkner (Ala.), an NAIA school in Montgomery.

“His brother and his best friend always took him to play,” Mialisha Bradley said. “And they beat him up. That made him tough.”

Losing also made Bradley get determined. It made him work, his mother said.

“I think that it’s all beginning to pay off now,” Mialisha Bradley said. “But the thing I like is that Jaden’s still a little brother. He still gets picked on. He gets a lot of attention but it very much changes when he comes in the house. And he never treats anyone different. It can be a player just starting out, or a player on the same level as him. He treats everyone the same. As a mom, I really appreciate that.”

N.C Class of 2022: A load of potential

Cannon School freshman Jaden Bradley participated in a USA Basketball developmental camp in Colorado Springs Langston Wertz Jr. lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

Led by Concord Cannon point guard Jaden Bradley, the N.C. Class of 2022 is shaping up to be a superior class, joining 2018 and 2016 as a few of the best in the past 20 years. Here are 10 freshman to watch:

Jaden BradleyConcord Cannon 6-2PG
Kheni BriggsKannapolis Brown6-3W
Freddie DillioneFayetteville Trinity Christian6-4PG/SG
Jeremy GregoryCarmel Christian6-7PF
Jalen Hood-SchifinoNorthside Christian6-4PG
Davon JonesWilson Hunt6-3SG
D.J. NixConcord Cannon6-6SF/PF
Jacob NewmanMyers Park6-0PG
Marquise RiceDurham Academy6-5SF
Asa WhiteGarner6-8PF