Search

Villanova Supernova The Wildcats have a new star in Michael Bradley, a transfer from Kentucky

Jan. 08, 2001
Jan. 08, 2001

Table of Contents
Jan. 8, 2001

Villanova Supernova The Wildcats have a new star in Michael Bradley, a transfer from Kentucky

It's hard to stand tall when the world keeps pulling the rug out
from under you. Villanova's Michael Bradley knows this all too
well, which is why the 6'10" junior isn't the least bit surprised
at how well he has played this season, even if everyone else
seems to be. "I always knew I had this in me," says Bradley, who
through Wednesday was averaging 21.5 points and 8.8 rebounds for
the 9-2 Wildcats. "It was just a matter of finding the right
situation."

This is an article from the Jan. 8, 2001 issue Original Layout

That search hasn't been easy. A native of Worcester, Mass.,
Bradley intended to play for Boston College, but in the fall of
1996 he rescinded his oral commitment after BC denied admission
to two of his AAU teammates. He then strongly considered going to
Villanova, but chose instead to play at Kentucky for Rick Pitino,
who bolted to become president and coach of the Boston Celtics
before Bradley ever played a game in Lexington. Bradley was a
role player on Tubby Smith's 1998 national championship team, but
the next season, even though he started all 37 games, he averaged
only 21.9 minutes. Says Villanova coach Steve Lappas, "He was
looking to go somewhere where he could play 32 minutes a night
and be involved in everything. I thought we'd be a great fit."

At Villanova, Bradley has demonstrated wide shooting range for a
big man (including making 7 of 18 three-point attempts), and his
field goal percentage is an astonishing 70.9%. Bradley has also
proved to be a deft passer (2.3 assists per game) and shot
blocker (2.2 per game). "He'll be a very good NBA player," one
Eastern Conference scout says. "He can make threes, and he's a
great passer, almost to a fault because he passes up open shots."
Adds Lappas, "I thought he'd be good, but not this good. I'm not
saying he's Larry Bird, but I'll tell you what: He learned a lot
from Larry Bird."

That was inevitable for a hoops fanatic growing up near Boston.
Bradley has been competing in organized basketball since age
four, when he played for a YMCA team coached by his father, Dave,
who was a center for Fairfield in the 1970s. As a senior at
Burncoat High in '96-97, Michael averaged 35.6 points, 11.6
rebounds and 4.9 blocks a game and was named the state's Mr.
Basketball. "Michael didn't collect baseball cards, he didn't
hang out and didn't go to movies," Dave says. "It was all
basketball."

The benefits of Bradley's hard work were obvious in the second
game of this season, when he scored 28 points (on 12 of 16
shooting) to go along with eight rebounds and six assists in a
98-85 loss at Duke. "It takes awhile to get used to playing with
him," says sophomore forward Aaron Matthews. "I don't know how
many times I've cut to the basket and he's passed it off my
forehead."

It may be awhile longer before Bradley stops taking people by
surprise, but in the meantime he is happy to be settling in at
Villanova, where Lappas's motion game suits him perfectly. "I've
waited a long time to be in a system where I could develop my
all-around game," he says. "I'm intent on making the most of
this."

--S.D.

COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS