Belmont University men’s basketball head coach Rick Byrd announced Thursday the signings of Evan Bradds (Jamestown, Ohio), Tyler Hadden (Cincinnati, Ohio), Austin Luke (Rowlett, Texas), and Nick Smith (Bentonville, Ark.) to national letters of intent to play basketball for the Bruins, starting in the fall of 2013.
“Our staff is excited about the young men who have chosen to attend Belmont University and participate in our basketball program,” Byrd said. “They continue the tradition that the players who came before them established in that each of them are outstanding students as well as athletes. We think that their ability on the basketball floor will allow our program to continue to improve. We appreciate the confidence they have shown in our school and our team and wish them all a great senior season in high school.”
Bradds, a 6-7, 190-pound wing player, averaged 18.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game as a junior for Greeneview High School. Bradds was named 2012 Associated Press Division III Second Team All-State, 2012 Associated Press Southwest Ohio Division III First Team All-State and Ohio District IX Player of the Year. A versatile and dynamic player, Bradds participated in AAU basketball for Team CBIZ. Bradds is the grandson of former Ohio State All-American Gary Bradds, who had his No. 35 retired by the Buckeyes and was drafted third overall in the 1964 NBA Draft by the Baltimore Bullets. Bradds’ father, David, played for the University of Dayton.
“Evan is a terrific athlete who can impact the game in a lot of ways. His athleticism is immediately noticeable, but he can score in a variety of ways and can play several positions on the floor. We expect Evan to contribute right away in 2013-14.”
Hadden, a 6-10, 220-pound post player, comes from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. While he has had to wait his turn in a competitive frontcourt rotation, Hadden opened eyes during the summer AAU season for Ohio Shining Stars. One analyst described Hadden as a huge find for Belmont, praising the post player’s skill, footwork and motor.
“Tyler possesses the skill set that we look for in a 5 man,” Byrd said. “He has a great scoring touch inside, but can also face up and shoot it beyond the three-point line. He has made dramatic improvement over the past year and works very hard at his game. He will be needed next season as we lose Trevor Noack.”
Luke, a 6-3, 175-pound point guard, emerged as one of the top point guard prospects in the state of Texas last year, leading Rowlett High School to a 22-9 record. The floor general averaged seven assists per game, orchestrating the Rowlett offense with two fellow NCAA Division I commitments. Luke played for Texas Hoops AAU Runnin Rebels.
“Austin really helps us fill the large void that will be left by point guard Kerron Johnson,” Byrd said. “Austin is a strong, tough, athletic guard who can really get the ball to his teammates, but score it on his own as well.”
Smith, a 6-8, 210-pound forward, has been one of the most productive players the state of Arkansas. Smith averaged 20.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game on 52 percent shooting as a junior for Bentonville High School. He was named Northwest Arkansas (NWA) Player of the Year and District 7A West Player of the Year. Smith is a two-time All-State selection and represented the United States in the 2012 Albert Schweitzer Tournament in Germany.
“Nick is great fit for our style of play on the offensive end. He is a big man who is comfortable facing the basket and shooting the three-point shot. The most obvious part of Nick’s game is his non-stop effort on the floor. He plays with a very high motor and that influences his teammates in such a positive way.”
Belmont (2-0) returns to action Sunday, Nov. 18 at Stanford.