Basketball is a game for trees, certainly not designed for us normal folk under 6-feet tall. Bobbing and weaving on a congested court works in rec ball, maybe even high school, but at the collegiate level?
Herein lies the UNCP true freshman point guard's signature — his size. It's what makes him special. Jumpers look more crisp when you're the smallest player on the floor and layups in traffics, highlight worthy.
Mugsy Bogues? No, think Nate Robinson without the spring. And two inches shorter.
Bradley's career in Pembroke is just seven games old, but Thursday's home opener proved why head coach Ben Miller wanted the 5-foot-7 playmaker out of Pine Forest High in Fayetteville. In 27 minutes of action, Bradley hit 8-of-9 shots, pulled down six rebounds and ran the show at point to near perfection during a 105-45 win over Barber-Scotia.
"Look at that," Miller said pointing at the pass column on the stat sheet. "Alex had five assists and no turnovers. I'm more proud of that than I am the 20 points."
Hovering near the numbers stitched across the jerseys of taller defenders, Bradley connected on four 3-pointers and a couple of pull-up leaners. He brought the house down midway through the second half when his fifth and final assist was a lob off the backboard that Brandon Winford promptly flushed.
Alley-oops, especially after kissing the glass, rarely happen in the Jones Center.
"I'm sure the fans like it," Miller said.
Bradley flashed a smile toward the UNCP bench as he jogged back on defense. He swished a deep jumper on the next possession before being taken out to a loud applause during the next timeout. Four other UNCP starters scored in double figures as the Braves won their third straight game.
"I'm just trying to play my game and help my team win," Bradley said. "Even though it was my first home game, I wasn't nervous. I haven't been nervous in a long time, actually."
He might not say much, but confidence in his own game is another quality Miller found intriguing about the 2011 Mid South Conference player of the year on the recruiting trail the last two seasons.
"He's getting better and better with every game and believes in himself," Miller said, whose playing Bradley more minutes than expected with nagging injuries to guards Griffin Pittman and K.J. Cooper. "Last game, he had six (assists) and one (turnover), so we really like the way he's progressing. We play a fast pace and really need those kind of numbers from him."
Bradley should be back in the starting lineup again Sunday against St. Andrews. The winless Knights are allowing 102.5 points per game this season but have only struggled to guard a single player under 6-feet tall.
That was Bradley last weekend.