UNCs Bradley staying in NBA draft

The 6-foot-11 freshman, who average 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds off the bench, is the Tar Heels first one-and-done player since Brandon Wright in 2007

Robert Deutsch—USA Today Sports
Freshman center Tony Bradley scores from close range during UNC's national championship victory against Gonzaga in Phoenix

Tony Bradley will become North Carolina’s first one-and-done basketball player since 2017 by remaining in the NBA draft. The freshman center announced his decision to forgo his final three seasons of college eligibility on Wednesday through a release issued by UNC’s athletic communications department. Wednesday is the deadline for underclassmen entering the draft to pull out and return to school. “Watching all the great Tar Heel players while I was growing up made Carolina my dream school and this past year made for some great memories,” Bradley said in his statement. “We had some great moments together, topped off with a national championship, which made the year even sweeter. March Madness was an unbelievable experience.”Bradley said Tuesday following a workout with the Milwaukee Bucks that he would stay in the draft if he was assured he’d be selected in the first round. The 6-foot-11 Florida native received information on his chances after participating at the NBA’s predraft Combine in Chicago and through individual workouts with multiple teams. He was in Oklahoma City working out for the Thunder on Wednesday. “Most teams are saying that I’m a late first-round pick,” he said. “That’s what I’m shooting for if I stay in the draft.” Bradley averaged 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in just 15 minutes per game while seeing action in 38 games off the bench this season. He was a key member of the Tar Heels in their run to the national title. “Tony helped us win the ACC regular-season championship and the national championship and we appreciate all that he has done and will continue to accomplish as a Tar Heel,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “He was the second-leading rebounder on a team that led the nation in rebounding on both ends of the court. “Tony’s an outstanding young man. We will continue to help him develop as a player and support him fully as he reaches his dream of playing professional basketball. We will enjoy watching him play for a long time to come.” Bradley said immediately after contributing five points and seven rebounds in the Tar Heels’ national championship win against Gonzaga in Phoenix that he was leaning toward turning professional and hiring an agent. But he waited until the 11th hour before making his final decision. His early departure, combined with the graduation of Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks, will leave next year’s team without an experienced big man. Coach Roy Williams will have to rely on incoming freshmen Garrison Brooks, Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley to take up the slack inside. Bradley is the first UNC player since Brandon Wright in 2007 to leave for the draft after just one season. Wright was taken by the Memphis Grizzlies with the eighth overall pick.”Even though I only played one year,” Bradley said, “it feels like I’ve been part of the UNC program for a lot longer and I will be a Tar Heel forever.”