Inside Carolina/Jim Hawkins

UNC F Tony Bradley's Disruptive Length

The freshman forward's wingspan is posing problems in the paint for his Tar Heel teammates.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – North Carolina freshman forward Tony Bradley has proven to be a shot blocking presence during the first month of practice.

Teammates Joel Berry and Isaiah Hicks were asked repeatedly about the McDonald’s All-American during their interview sessions at the ACC Operation Basketball media event on Wednesday, and both kept coming back to his 7-foot-4 wingspan.

“One thing I think that a lot of people underestimate about him is his length,” Berry said. “He’s really long.”

Bradley’s long arms, which are firmly attached to his 6-foot-10, 240-pound frame, have consistently posed problems for Hicks and senior center Kennedy Meeks in the post.

“Kennedy and I sometimes look at each other like, ‘I thought I had it,’ after he just blocked the shot,” Hicks said.

Bradley’s size prevents him from being pushed around on the block, according to Hicks, and his length allows him to close wide distances quickly. That ability has frustrated UNC’s guards just as much as its bigs.

“I’ve never seen them get their shot blocked so much, honestly,” Hicks said.

Offensively, Roy Williams has praised Bradley for his ability to get up and down the court, while Hicks noted that the freshman is capable of scoring with either hand down low. Hicks has quickly assumed a mentoring role.

“Everybody says that’s my son,” Hicks said. “He’s like me when I was a freshman, so I’m trying to keep him out of the clear of being like me my freshman year. Confidence-wise, I’m just telling Tony there’s no need to hold yourself back. Just come out here and become the player you know you are.”

Hicks earned ACC Sixth Man of the Year honors last season after averaging 8.9 points and 4.6 rebounds. The senior forward believes Bradley can top those numbers as a freshman.

“I could see him doing even better,” Hicks said. “With his size and his length, Tony can really become somebody.”

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