The mock drafts, at least, say Tony Bradley is coming back.
Even before the NBA Combine, pro basketball analysts from ESPN called Bradley a lower first round, upper second round draft pick and predicted he would return to UNC for his sophomore season. Since the combine concluded, Bradley’s stock has dropped even lower. That doesn’t mean the talented Tar Heel won’t stay in the draft and take his chances on signing with a team even if he doesn’t get the guaranteed money of a first-round selection.
On the NBA DraftExpress website, Bradley fell all the way to No. 40, which is 10 spots into the second round. The site has Jayson Tatum, Dennis Smith, Jr., Justin Jackson, Jonathan Isaac from Florida State, John Collins from Wake Forest, and three other Dukies Luke Kennard, Harry Giles and Frank Jackson all going ahead of Bradley, who according to DraftExpress had the worst vertical jump at the combine at 27.5 inches. Explosion will surely be on his to-do list.
On the NBA Draft.Net site, Bradley wasn’t listed in the first two rounds, which means those so-called experts believe he will go back to Carolina for at least one more year. So while he is still considered an excellent NBA prospect, Bradley has likely gotten the same advice JJ received at last year’s combine, get stronger and improve your shot. For someone who averaged less than 15 minutes per game last season, but led the team in rebounds per minutes played, Bradley’s upside is enormous if he pulls out later this month and goes back to college.
Disparity about Justin Jackson on the mock draft boards is interesting. He is listed as low as 10, which is a lottery pick with mega millions guaranteed, all the way down to 20 on some others. But he is definitely a first-rounder after his Player of the Year and All-American season.
One name that stood out is Zack Collins, the 6-11 freshman from Gonzaga. He was almost a universal top 10 pick on the mock boards. Remember, Collins played only 14 minutes, totaling 9 points and 7 rebounds, before he fouled out against the Tar Heels. Looking back and looking ahead, it’s probably a good thing that Collins did not play anymore in the tense national championship game.