Monday, July 12, 2010

Bradley Beats the Odds

It always amazes me the paths that some kids take before getting to UConn -- or any college basketball program, for that matter.

Whether it's surviving refugee camps in Egypt, like Ater Majok, or simply getting through the perils of inner-city life, the stories behind man top college athletes is often pretty incredible.

New UConn big man Michael Bradley is no exception. As you'll read in this story from today's Register, Bradley has lived in a children's home -- some would call it an orphanage -- for most of the past eight years. Things weren't great at home -- his mom unable to hold a steady job and provide for him, his father never a part of his life and now decesed -- so both him and his mother, Jacqueline Phinazee, thought it best he move into the Tennessee Baptist Children's Home in Chattanooga.

While the home provided somewhat strict rules to live by, Bradley adhered to them and has emerged as a top-notch student who, if basketball doesn't work out, would someday like to be a pharmacist. He'll start in UConn's pharmacy program in two years.

Bradley has grown as a basketball player, too, though he's only really played the sport seriously for three or four years now. With that in mind, he understands this season will be a learning process and doesn't expect much playing time.

“My offensive game is really kind of non-existent right now,” Bradley said, matter-of-factly. “My role probably won’t be as big this year, because I’m just trying to get my basketball IQ up. I haven’t been playing that long, so the whole thing with this year is just getting better.”

He knew that coming into UConn, however, and it says a lot that he's willing to be patient and get better. Bradley, after all, could have gone to a smaller program and played right away. But he embraced the challenge of learning under Jim Calhoun's tutelage and becoming the best player he could be at UConn. That says a lot about the kid.

Oh, and here's some video of Bradley hauling in a rebound during a recent late-night scrimmage at Gampel. Later in the short clip, we see Tyler Olander going in for a two-handed slam.

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