Representing New Zealand for the third straight summer in a row (including the Olympics in Athens in 2004) while doubling as a student athlete at an emerging mid-major program at Winthrop University, Craig Bradshaw
is gaining some much needed experienced and exposure in what could end up being a fairly prominent role in Japan.
According to the boxscores weve seen, the media reports weve read, and the way New Zealands roster is shaping up so far, Bradshaw could be one of the most intriguing young players at the World Championship to look out for. Craig Bradshaw
, he's the best player in the team at the moment," New Zealand captain Pero Cameron was quoted saying recently. "He's playing the best ball in the group. Craig's come back from Winthrop on a mission and he's taken the next step for us."
Outside of being a fixture on DraftExpress.coms rankings and mock draft over the past year, though, Bradshaw has received very little attention outside of his native New Zealand. That is beginning to change now as he establishes himself on the International level this summer, scoring 25 points in a recent matchup against Andrew Bogut
and Australia, and knocking down a clutch 3-pointer to win the game for the Kiwis over their arch-rivals in the process. With Sean Marks
out of the picture and New Zealand desperate for a scoring presence from their frontcourt, Bradshaw has been praised repeatedly by his teammates and coaching staff for the production hes given them and the work ethic hes shown: I know with Craig there's a lot of ice under water right now. We're only seeing the tip. This kid could be a tremendous basketball player, remarked head coach Tab Baldwin.
Bradshaw has been displaying some intriguing tools for quite some time now as he heads into his fourth and final season at Winthrop University in the Big South Conference. He averaged 13 points and 6 rebounds this past season on an extremely talented team that took #2 seed Tennessee down to the final possession as a #15 seed in the first round of this years NCAA tournament. NBA scouts have quietly been trickling down to Rock Hill, South Carolina, to watch him both practice and play against the many high major college programs Winthrop fearlessly adds to its schedule every season. Head Coach Gregg Marshall has been quick to sing his praises to us on a number of occasions.
What theyve seen is a 6-10 big man with nice mobility, good length and an intriguing package of skills from the perimeter. He runs the floor intelligently, has good hands and is quick off his feet to challenge a shot or put back an offensive rebound. Bradshaw can put the ball on the floor, spot up with range and solid touch from the college 3-point line and surprise you with some of the moves he makes on the perimeter at times.
He still needs to become better at using his size, body and length to score in the post, as well as improve his defense and rebounding skills, but the improvement hes shown over the past few years has been steady and constant. Going from a player who had to basically beg his way onto a mid-major scholarship with a home-made highlight reel he made from New Zealand, its been both encouraging and inspiring to see the progress hes making now.
If he continues to put up the type of numbers hes had in a half a dozen or more friendlies over the past month for New Zealand, hovering around the 20 point mark more often than not and filling up the stat sheet consistently with double-doubles, Bradshaw will put himself in a great situation to have real NBA decision makers at every game he plays next year and possibly parlay that into being drafted next June.