Quality guards and Belmont are about as recognizable a pair as peanut butter and jelly on bread, and once again, the Bruins will likely see their fortunes rest on the shorter shoulders of their backcourt. Coming off a sensational sophomore season, Craig Bradshaw will look once again to lead Belmont back to the conference’s summit, and more importantly, back to the NCAA Tournament.
So how does Bradshaw, the top returning scorer on a team that will almost certainly be in the hunt for the conference crown, fall to number seven on our list? Much as we’ve talked about “opportunity” with guys like Eric Stutz, Bradshaw faces a greater challenge — replacing J.J. Mann, and his 18-points a game. Obviously, that doesn’t all fall on Bradshaw, who scored 15 points a game himself — but whereas defenses honed in on Mann, this year, the focus will likely move to Bradshaw in the year ahead.
The two have different skillsets, mind you. While Bradshaw can shoot the three with ease, hitting just under 40% from behind the arc a year ago, he’s more of a slasher — getting to the rim on 46% of his shots, according to Hoop-Math. Mann did so just 22% of the time. Bradshaw’s three’s — 90% unassisted, meaning Bradshaw has no problems creating his own shot anywhere on the floor.
Craig Bradshaw will look once again to lead Belmont back to the conference’s summit, and more importantly, back to the NCAA Tournament.
If there’s a weakness in Bradshaw’s offensive play, it’s that he didn’t get to the free-throw line all that often, which is a shame as he’s an 83% free-throw shooter. Other Belmont guards, like Reece Chamberlain and Evan Bradds did so at a much higher rate a year ago — although both also took significantly fewer shots from the field.
Bradshaw last year was a solid guard, who likely didn’t get the recognition he deserved, partially because of who he played with, and partially because of a freshman explosion in the OVC a year ago. There’s little reason to doubt he’s the kind of player that will make a marked impact on his team, and with two more years, he’s a player whose name you’ll hear plenty from before his time as a Bruin is done.