Utah Jazz fans must have had their hands on their heads when their team made the trade to acquire Tony Bradley, a relatively unknown University of North Carolina athlete who only played one year of college basketball during which he was unable to make a start. However, a quick search will show that the center, who was originally selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 28th overall pick, showed signs of becoming one of the greats of the game and was brought to the team with a longer-term development in mind.
Who is Tony Bradley?
Bradley was born Tony Lee Bradley Jr. to Vanessa and Tony Bradley on the 8th of January, 1998 in Bartow, Florida. From a very young age, Bradley grew interested in basketball which was said to be his father’s favorite sport. At around the age of 10, Bradley Snr. took his son to the 2009 McDonald’s All-American Game where they got to watch future NBA players like Derrick Favors, Lance Stephenson, and DeMarcus Cousins. This is what was said to be the igniter of passion in Bradley Jnr to one day make it to the NBA.
His father started off by building a concrete basketball court in their backyard where his son would go on to practice his shot day in day out in hopes of becoming one of the players he had watched. Tony Bradley’s persistence looked to be paying off as he earned himself McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand Classic selections in his senior high school year while playing for Bartow High School. That year, Bradley averaged 22.8 points, 12.6 rebounds and 3 blocks per game to also be named Florida Mr. Basketball.
After graduating high school, Bradley who had garnered interest from schools like the University of Kansas, University of Florida, Florida State University, Vanderbilt, the University of Alabama, and other notable college programs, accepted the offer from North Carolina University (UNC). Despite the hype that surrounded his freshman year at the school, Tony Bradley was unable to start a game due to the presence of Kennedy Meeks who was a senior at the time. Bradley, however, still managed to feature in all his school’s 38 games, averaging 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game as the UNC Tar Heels and went on to win the 2017 NCAA Championship against Gonzaga.
When was He Drafted into NBA?
Following the University of North Carolina’s NCAA Championship victory, Tony Bradley announced he was forgoing his remaining three college years to enter the 2017 NBA Draft. He had initially left open the option of returning to UNC for his sophomore year but after he was projected to be selected in at least the third round of the draft, Bradley chose to become a professional, thus becoming the first player from the school since 2008 to play just one college basketball year.
In the 2017 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected him with the 28th overall pick but however immediately traded him to the Utah Jazz. Bradley made his NBA debut on the 5th of November 2017 against the Houston Rockets before he was sent away to the Salt Lake City Stars in the NBA Development League. He went on to make a total of 24 appearances for the D League team, averaging 15.4 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. In the NBA, Bradley only managed 9 appearances where he averaged 0.9 points and 1.2 rebounds in 3.2 minutes per game. He also featured in one 2018 NBA Playoff game where he scored 2 points and had 1 rebound in 2 minutes of play.
Tony Bradley earns an annual average salary of about $1.5 million from his two-year $3.09 million contract with the Utah Jazz. This makes him the 13th best-paid player on the team.
Tony Bradley, who is noted to be a very good offensive rebounder, has a height of 6 feet 10 inches or 2.08 m. This ties him at second place with Ekpe Udoh and Derrick Favors on the list of the tallest Utah Jazz players, behind the 2018 NBA defensive player of the Year, Rudy Gobert, whose height is listed at 7 feet 1 inches or 2.16 m.
Bradley’s weight is further listed at 248 pounds or 112 kg, wingspan at 7 feet 5 inches or 2.26 m and standing reach at 9 feet 4.5 inches or 2.86 m.