October 13, 2011
One of the few people who doesn't appear to be uncomfortable with Connecticut taking Michael Bradley off scholarship is the sophomore center himself.
In his first public comments about the subject on Wednesday at the Huskies' media day, Bradley insisted it was his decision last month to play this year as a walk-on to make room on the roster for prized recruit Andre Drummond. Bradley was the obvious choice to make the one-year sacrifice because he qualified for other financial aid due to growing up in a poor section of Chattanooga and spending seven years living in the Tennessee Baptist Children's Home.
"I don't want anybody to pity me," Bradley told reporters Wednesday. "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.
"It was a chance to first, better myself, by going against a more competitive person each day. 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."
Whether it was appropriate for UConn to ask Bradley to make that sacrifice has been a subject of heated debate in college basketball circles in recent weeks.
On the one hand, almost every program in the nation would have found a way to make room for the late addition of Drummond, a potential top-five pick in next year's NBA draft who vaults the defending national champs back into title contention. On the other hand, it just doesn't seem right that Drummond has to sacrifice his scholarship at a time of year when it's too late to transfer or that UConn is able to skirt the scholarship penalties it faced due to academic woes and NCAA rules violations.
Calhoun lauded Bradley on Wednesday, telling the Hartford Courant the sophomore "stepped up when he didn't have to" and "utilized his disadvantages into an advantage for us, which is great." And a certain other Husky big man owes a debt of gratitude to Bradley for his opportunity to compete for a national title this season in what may be his lone year of college.
"Me and Mike have had a great relationship," Drummond said. "I've known him since I was a sophomore, so, I'm really thankful for what he did."