UConn’s Bradley, Drummond linked by sacrifice

Connecticut center Michael Bradley says it was his decision to

give up his scholarship so the Huskies could sign prize recruit

Andre Drummond, and he doesn’t want anyone’s pity.

Bradley, a redshirt freshman who grew up in a home for children

from troubled families in Tennessee, said he made the offer to

coach Jim Calhoun in August shortly after hearing that Drummond was

committing to UConn, and knowing the defending national champions

had no more scholarships to give.

UConn has only 10 scholarships this season after losing one

because of NCAA violations and two more because of a poor academic

performance rating.

Drummond decided to enroll just three days before the start of

the fall semester, but UConn needed to free up a scholarship to get

him. Bradley, who was in a position to qualify for other financial

aid, will play this season as a walk-on, and hopes to be back on

scholarship next year.

”It was a chance to first, better myself, by going against a

more competitive person each day,” he said Wednesday, the first

time he has talked about the decision with the media. ”So that was

a great opportunity. And, it was a chance for our team to get

better, that was also a great opportunity. So, I felt like

sometimes you have to make a sacrifice if you really want to get

better.”

Bradley said he is receiving several grants and other financial

aid this year, but acknowledges it will be financially challenging

for him without the scholarship money.

He grew up in a poor section of Chattanooga and spent most of

his childhood living in the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home

because of a strained relationship with his mother. He said he

hopes to major in economics at UConn, but didn’t want to go into

details about his financial situation, or his personal life.

”I don’t want anybody to pity me,” he said. ”That is the one

thing that I don’t want. But, I’ll just say I made a lot of

sacrifices growing up that were kind of forced on me. It was kind

of hard, but it wasn’t too bad.”

Bradley and Drummond are both 6-foot-10 and have known each

other for several years. Calhoun was recruiting Drummond when he

saw Bradley play in the same AAU tournament. He held up Bradley

last year as a great story of UConn’s commitment to student

athletes, pointing out that he scored a 1380 on his college boards

and had already earned numerous college credits before enrolling at

Connecticut.

He said he takes exception to the characterization that UConn

took a scholarship from a kid who grew up in an orphanage, to give

it to a basketball phenom who likely will be at UConn for one

year.

”No one lost a scholarship,” he said. ”Michael wasn’t the

only guy who came to the coaching staff when we were talking about

this and said, `Coach, can I help.’ Within teams, people make

sacrifices…in this case that’s what happened.”

Calhoun said the school would explain the situation further in

the coming weeks. Connecticut President Susan Herbst, in an

interview last month, said she was comfortable with how Calhoun

handled everything, and believes nothing was done that would harm

Bradley or the school.

”I think Michael is on good footing and is taken care of,” she

said. ”He’s a terrific student and I have no question that he will

be supported, and it kind of works with the success of the team

which is important to him as well. And I have met Andre, and he’s a

great kid, and it’s going to be a great team this year.”

Calhoun described Drummond as a special player, who at 275

pounds runs the floor like a point guard, can post up and shoot

from the outside. He was projected by many to be an NBA lottery

pick if he had gone directly from prep school to the pros. He said

Wednesday that he’s just thankful to get the opportunity to play at

UConn, a team he has followed since moving to the state in seventh

grade.

He said he’s also grateful to Bradley.

”I’m thankful for everything he did,” he said. ”Me and Mike

have a great relationship and I’ve known him since I was a

sophomore (in high school), so we’ve been really cool. So I’m

really thankful for what he did for me.”

Their teammates say the entire experience has brought everyone

closer together.

”That just shows a lot about Mike Bradley as a person that he

was willing to do that to make this team better – adding Andre

Drummond,” said captain Alex Oriakhi. ”You can’t really ask a kid

to do more than that. That’s a kid that works hard every day, and I

think he’s really going to be solid for us this year.”

Drummond expects more than that.

”I think we have all the pieces to the puzzle,” he said, ”to

make another run at the national championship.”