While their record hasn’t always met expectations the past few season, there’s no denying that Southeast Missouri has produced elite offenses over the past three years. The Redhawks were in the top 35 nationally last season in offensive efficiency, thanks to the second best field goal shooting in the nation. A big reason for their offensive prowess was a player who seemingly came out of nowhere: JUCO transfer Jarekious Bradley.
His skill was obvious out of the gate. Bradley’s season started with a double-double against St. Louis, where he had game-highs in points (22) and rebounds (12). It was just the start of a fantastic season, seeing Bradley land second-team all-OVC honors, finishing the year with 19 points, and six rebounds a contest.
Perhaps no one in the conference had a better jump-shot than Bradley. The 6’5 guard hit 49.9% from the field, but unlike most shooters near the 50% shooting mark, took fewer than a fourth of his shots at the rim. His range helped him hit nearly half his two-point jumpers, and 37% from deep, numbers any coach would take from a guy large enough to play the three, even the four in short spells.
Bradley also notched seven double-doubles of the year.
Even with his lofty numbers, there is some question of “what might have been” with Bradley. He only played two minutes against the University of Missouri-Kansas City due to a sprained knee, and he injured his knee less than five minutes into the Redhawks’ loss to UT Martin. He also played the last month or so of the season with a torn ligament in his wrist.
That also brings us to the question mark surrounding Bradley — his surgery this summer to repair that torn ligament, and the health of those knees. He played all 32 games last year, and you hope he doesn’t have any serious problems this year as well.
Bradley also plays a role in what’s been the Redhawks biggest weakness the last few years: defense. At OVC Media Day, head coach Dickie Nutt says Bradley has improved defensively, and will be a leader for the team on both ends of the floor.
If his legs, and wrists, hold out, I’m not sure there a better pure shooter in the OVC. When I sat down to make this list, Bradley was on my short-list to the be the number one player. Sadly, it’s not a question of talent, it’s a question of health for the Redhawks senior, that dropped him down to my number three selection.
Make no mistake: I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Bradley proves to be in the discussion for OVC Player of the Year.