NBAdraft.net learned (and tweeted) Monday that Bradley intends to enter his name into the NBA draft, having already planned to ship his car home to Washington and will head home on Wednesday.
It's a tough loss for Texas fans trying to figure out how things actually get better next year with the graduation of Damion James and only one recruit scheduled to arrive next season in Tristan Thompson.
Bradley showed flashes of brilliance but seemed handicapped both mentally and physically under Barnes' watch as the season wore on. The array of talents we saw in December were mysteriously neutered by February. The Barnes Mindmeld had Bradley's head on a swivel, constantly questioning how he might have screwed up some small detail of The Barnesian Way and how it might cost him in either playing time or wind sprints.
His last play in the tourney against Wake was vintage Bradley -- racing down the court chasing a fast break and swatting the ball off the glass to keep Texas in the game. Cleaning up yet another mess and you certainly can't blame his effort nor his impulse to roll the dice in the draft after the trainwreck that was Texas basketball this season.
Surround a kid like this with encouragement and positive feedback and he'll soak it up. Browbeat him for a poor shot selection, a missed defensive assignment, or lazy entry pass -- the average freshmen hoops diet -- and he'll likely retreat into a shell. It's readily apparently that Bradley (and especially J'Covan Brown) would have thrived better under a different species of coach: more Artist, less Blue Streak Cusser.
Hit the bench, kid.
So where does he land? The NBA sees him as a combo guard but Avery didn't get any experience at the point this year and he has average handles for an NBA guard. Definitely not a lottery pick and more than likely a late first, early second rounder that goes to a team drafting on intangibles, athleticism, and upside. His boxscore against Nebraska is what they're looking for: 26 min / 9-12 FG / 26 pts / 5 reb / 1 ass / 1 TO
Maybe a few more assists but let's assume Wangmene channeled his inner Didier Drogba and decided to head in a few passes.
One potentially negative impact Bradley's quick exit might have on the program is whether future recruits will start questioning if Texas' system (and Rick Barnes) offers the ideal proving grounds for the NBA. I was still shocked Kevin Durant ever came to the 40 acres until the day I took a tour through Denton Cooley Pavilion with Todd Wright. Let's just say it's convincing. I was ready to quit my job and walk on the team until he accurately pegged my vertical leap between 16" - 20". Can it be worse than Dexter Pittman's?
Transcendental talents like T.J. Ford and Durant overcame Texas' somewhat handicapped motion offense (Move! Score somehow! Rebound that missed shot!) But now we've seen yet again what happens without an elite point guard running the show and Bradley clearly suffered. Scouts will be able to sort that out and hopefully the lack of a true scoring threat or assist man at PG won't impact his draft status as bad as it affected the furniture in the living rooms of Texas fans this season.
If Bradley can get the Daniel Gibson draft package and settle down in the right system, he'll enjoy a long and profitable NBA career. But that lingering sense of missed opportunity during his one year at Texas seems inevitable.
Remember this kid?