We’re counting down the 25 best former Texas athletes still competing in their sport. Each day we’ll reveal a new athlete.
No. 21 Avery Bradley, basketball
Arriving from the state of Washington via Findley College Prep in Henderson, Nev. in 2009 was one of Rick Barnes’ highest-rated recruits of all-time, Avery Bradley. The 6-foot-2-inch, 180-pound McDonald’s All-American was ESPN 100’s No. 1-rated recruit. He was the No. 4-rated recruit by Rivals and 247 Sports’ composite rankings had him at No. 4 as well, behind Derrick Favors, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. Bradley, however was the Parade Magazine Player of the Year. Bradley, whose father was in the military, grew up all over the country but it was his time in Arlington in the early 2000s that molded him into a Texas fan. He came to Austin as part of the No. 3 recruiting class, joining Jordan Hamilton, the No. 7-rated player in the class, No. 53-rated player Shawn Williams and J’Covan Brown, the No. 67-rated player. Bradley was never expected to play more than a year at Texas, and partly because of the pair of freshmen from the 2007 class, Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustin, the expectations for top-10 recruits at Texas was probably unfair. He averaged 11.6 points per game and shot 37 percent from the 3-point line. However, he also flashed a defensive ability that has become his trademark in the NBA. His year at Texas, though, was somewhat of a disaster. The Longhorns started the year as No. 3 and in January reached No. 1 in the AP poll. Reeling off 17-straight wins, Texas finished the regular season with a 6-8 record and lost in overtime to Wake Forest in the NCAA Tournament.
Pro career: Bradley’s decision to go pro wasn’t a shocker. He declared for the draft and the Boston Celtics took him 19th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft. Bradley was picked by a perennial playoff contender loaded with three future Hall of Famers, and he didn’t receive much playing time behind one of those legends, Ray Allen. Boston sent him to the developmental league his rookie year, but he became a rotation player in his second season and eventually became known in the league as one of the best defenders in basketball. Bradley was on the 2013 All- Defensive second team and made the first team in 2016. Heading into the final year of his contract in 2017, the Celtics traded their starting guard to the Detroit Pistons, who later dealt him to the Los Angeles Clippers. Bradley is expected to be one of the top free agent guards in the summer of 2018.
Why he’s here: Bradley is one of the best defenders in the NBA and is almost certainly is going to land a sizeable deal this offseason. Few Texas Exes can claim to be “one of the best at X” in their sport, but Bradley can certainly say it on the defensive end. While his defense is singled out a lot, his offense has improved over the years, making him the one thing every NBA team wants: a “3-and-D” player.
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