Deep in the heart of Texas a rising senior has made a statement of national proportions with his stellar play over the past three months. Not visible on many people's radar prior to the summer, Brad Buckman, 6-9, 225-pound power forward, soared up in the national rankings for the Class of 2002 with his play for California Double Pump's "Pump N Run" squad.
His performances during the summer revealed to the recruiting/ranking gurus what local coaches already knew (and what one or two of them perhaps would rather others not find out)—Brad Buckman is an elite athlete. Brad had a breakout performance at the Five Star Camp, where he garnered Most Outstanding Player honors over a dozen other potential McDonald's All-Americans. He added Most Valuable Player of the playoffs to his summer awards as well.
Superlative athletes are not new to the folks of Austin as Brad follows former Westlake High School All-Americans Chris Mihm and Luke Axtell. However, with his play, Buckman earned himself a spot alongside other coveted big men currently making decisions about where they'll play college ball.
Just this past week, Brad narrowed his list of schools down, scratching Missouri and Illinois from his list while continuing to set up in-home and campus visits with the remaining four suitors: North Carolina, Texas, UCLA and Kansas. The only firm visit date as of the writing of this article is a visit to Kansas University's "Midnight Madness." Brad has stated his intent to decide based on the in-homes and campus visits by November.
According to Brad's coach, Clifton McNeely at Westlake High School, "All of those four have offered a scholarship." About North Carolina's recruitment of Brad, he says, "I can only tell you what Coach Doherty has shared with me, you know, the fact that they feel he can come in and play for their program, that they want to come in and sit in his home and they want him to come on campus."
The superlatives concerning Brad are pouring in:
Sam Lowe of TexasHoops.com told us:
"Brad is an active big man who can step out and stroke the 15-18 footer with regularity. He is an aggressive rebounder who has deceptively good spring. He can come across the lane, block shots, grab the loose ball and take off up court starting the break. He has really developed his overall game since the start of his junior year and opened a lot of people's eyes in the process."
Says Clifton McNeely, Brad's coach at Westlake in an interview with IC:
"I think the first thing you notice is how hard he works and how hard he goes and attacks the offensive and defensive glass. He's just a great competitor… He has the ability to play inside and outside. He handles the ball very well…He can step on the perimeter and shoot it from long range and he can take people off the dribble…[His greatest strength as a player is] his heart. His desire. I think Brad's motivated from within… He's a tremendous defensive player down in the post because of his ability to block shots. He has great timing and a natural instinct to get the basketball. And on the defensive side he attacks the glass and he's a ferocious rebounder…"
Top recruiting analysts reflect these sentiments in their post-summer rankings for the Class of 2002, as Buckman went from unranked and unlisted to No. 24 in our Consensus Rankings.
The state of Texas is finding it difficult to rank its own top seniors: Bracey Wright, Daniel Horton (Michigan), Deron Williams, Chris Bosh, and Bryan Hopkins, but Buckman will most likely crack the top 4 from Texas during September's rankings, according to TexasHoops.com.
Buckman spoke about his summer accomplishments and where he's set his sight for next year in an IC interview this weekend:
"I feel like I accomplished my goals. I had set goals going into the tournaments so I think I achieved them in every way possible. If I would've set some more goals I'd have set them a lot higher than I did because I didn't really think going in I'd achieve them but I got that mindset and I went and did it."
"[Working toward becoming a] McDonald's All-American, that was one of my goals. I watched [the McDonald's All-American game] and I thought, man, if only I could be a part of that… This season I want to be Mr. Basketball of Texas which is going to be hard because we have Bracey Wright running against me, and Chris Bosh and Daniel Horton. It's going to be interesting to see how that turns out. Also, All-State 1st Team, MVP of my district as I was already last year, and just come out and go to a great college and spend my next 4 years there, however many [years] I need. Hopefully, to get to the next level after that [NBA]."
Buckman's skills and his heart for the game, along with the hustle and determination he exhibited this summer has made these goals a distinct possibility.