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College basketball: UNC freshman Tony Bradley off to red hot start

Time:2016-12-23 06:31Shoes websites Click:

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From his very first decision as a North Carolina Tar Heel, freshman forward Tony Bradley set the expectations about as high as possible. When it came time for the first-year players to choose jerseys, Bradley went with No. 5. The last owner of that number? Just All-American Marcus Paige, who had his jersey hung in the rafters of the Dean Dome earlier this season after graduating in May. The man who donned the No. 5 kit before Paige? Only Ty Lawson, 2009 ACC Player of the Year and, more importantly in Chapel Hill, national champion.

 

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So why did Bradley choose a number with such rich history at UNC? “Chose uniform No. 5 because it was the closest available to No. 4,” reads his bio on the school’s site. Okay then.

To be fair, Any jersey with “North Carolina” on the front and argyle on the sides holds great expectations, regardless of the number on the back, but that No. 5 came with especially large shoes to fill.

That hasn’t phased the freshman one bit.

Bradley scored in double figures in each of his first six games as a Tar Heel. The last UNC player to accomplish that was Brandan Wright in the 2006-07 season, who recorded double figures in his first 18 games in Carolina blue. Wright averaged 14.7 points and 6.2 rebounds in 27.4 minutes per game that season on his way to being named the ACC Rookie of the Year and becoming the eighth overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.

Of course, Wright did that while starting each of the 37 games he played in that season, while Bradley has come off the bench in every contest this year.

That reserve role is mostly thanks to the two big men Bradley has to play behind this year: Kennedy Meeks, who averaged 9.2 points and 5.9 rebounds in 20.6 minutes per game last season, and Isaiah Hicks, the 2016 ACC Sixth Man of the Year.

Still, the Tar Heels lost one of the best big men in UNC history last season when Brice Johnson graduated. Johnson, an All-American whose No. 11 jersey hangs in the rafters as well, left a gaping hole in the Tar Heels’ frontcourt. Coming into this year, it seemed as though the burden to fill that rested solely on the shoulders of Meeks and Hicks.

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But 13 games into the season, Bradley has shown how valuable he is in rounding out a menacing frontcourt for UNC.

Of Power-5 players who haven’t attempted a 3-pointer and have played more than 30 minutes this season, Bradley has the seventh-highest points per minute (.5413) and rebounds per minute (.3667). He is one of just four players to be in the top 10 of both categories. The other three are UNC’s Meeks, Michigan State's Nick Ward, and Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ.

POINTS PER MINUTE

 

Player

 

Class

 

School

 

Points per minute

 

1.

 

Nick Ward

 

FR

 

Michigan State

 

.7467

 

2.

 

Isaac Haas

 

JR

 

Purdue

 

.6305

 

3.

 

Reid Travis

 

JR

 

Stanford

 

.5795

 

4.

 

Kennedy Meeks

 

SR

 

North Carolina

 

.5699

 

5.

 

Michal Cekovsky

 

JR

 

Maryland

 

.5696

 

6.

 

Ethan Happ

 

SO

 

Wisconsin

 

.5442

 

7.

 

Tony Bradley

 

FR

 

North Carolina

 

.5413

 

8.

 

De’Ron Davis

 

FR

 

Indiana

 

.5338

 

9.

 

Brandon Watkins

 

SR

 

West Virginia

 

.5324

 

10.

 

Isaiah Hicks

 

SR

 

North Carolina

 

.5296

 

REBOUNDS PER MINUTE

 

Player

 

Class

 

School

 

Rebounds per minute

 

1.

 

Trevor Thompson

 

JR

 

Ohio State

 

.4360

 

2.

 

Bakary Konate

 

JR

 

Minnesota

 

.4037

 

3.

 

Kennedy Meeks

 

SR

 

North Carolina

 

.3993

 

4.

 

Ethan Happ

 

SO

 

Wisconsin

 

.3912

 

5.

 

Jayce Johnson

 

FR

 

Utah

 

.3897

 

6.

 

Thomas Welsh

 

JR

 

UCLA

 

.3739

 

7.

 

Tony Bradley

 

FR

 

North Carolina

 

.3667

 

8.

 

Nick Ward

 

FR

 

Michigan State

 

.3624

 

9.

 

David Bell

 

SO

 

Ohio State

 

.3600

 

10.

 

DeShawn Freeman

 

JR

 

Rutgers

 

.3578

 

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