ORLANDO --- Life looks a little different for Tony Bradley these days. Perceived as a rising, yet unproven talent a year ago, Bradley didn't earn a North Carolina offer until roughly the midpoint of his junior season.
And from there, of course, he visited Chapel Hill unofficially this past March and proceeded to turn in an outstanding summer on the EYBL circuit. He committed last month to give the program a legitimate blue-chip center and an emotional boost that further resonated with a subsequent commitment from slashing wing Brandon Robinson.
At the Fall Festival, Bradley demonstrated why he ranks among the country’s best centers. He showcased his blue collar style, excellent hands and interior touch, sharp outlet passing and intelligent position defense. He’ll never be an explosive straight-up leaper but, combined with a very solid frame, should develop into a workhorse interior performer for UNC.
First things first, however, he has set his eyes on a more immediate challenge — and one that’s bigger than himself.
“I just have team goals rather than individual goals,” Bradley said. “I want to win a state championship. That’s it.”
Ending his recruitment will enable him to focus on a state title that much more intently. Bradley undertook a process that included schools other than North Carolina but ultimately trusted his first instinct.
”I just really enjoyed my visit there,” Bradley said. “Everything and everyone there are close. I really liked the campus and just felt like it was the best fit for me.”
Following his senior season, his objective will be to make himself a viable option for early playing time — never easy at a program of UNC’s caliber.
”The coaches have said they could see me playing some good minutes (next season),” he said. “I just have to go get it. I know I’ll have to work hard to get those minutes.”
Another question lurks under the surface. What if junior center Kennedy Meeks departs for the professional ranks following this season? Could Bradley gain strength and develop additional polish to potentially start as a freshman?
“With a little bit more practice, I think I could be ready,” he said with a smile.
Bradley is expected to attend Late Night festivities at UNC next weekend.