Overlooked, underrated and undervalued have become run-of-the-mill expressions when talking high school basketball prospects.
There is no other way to describe Micah Bradford of Bradley-Bourbonnais. He just may be the most — pick your favorite unheralded description here — (overlooked, underrated, undervalued) player in the Class of 2016.
Bradford is a Division I prospect who hasn’t heard from Division I schools, and he’s never mentioned with the top players in the junior class. Bradley-Bourbonnais coach Alex Renchen says he has yet to hear from a Division I coach on Bradford, who is quickly climbing the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s list of top prospects in the Class of 2016.
As a sophomore this past year, the 5-11 point guard was the catalyst for a team that won 19 games, the most wins the Boilermakers have had in 19 seasons. Bradford fueled the best season in two decades by averaging over 14 points a game with a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio while shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc.
“He’s made a big jump,” said Renchen of his point guard’s progression since the start of his sophomore year eight months ago. “He plays with confidence, is more comfortable and has a great feel. And he’s grown an inch, inch and a half, and he’s long for his size.”
Bradford is extremely fluid with the ball in his hands and excels in constantly getting defenders off-balance and finding his way to the basket. He can play at a high rate of speed while always seeming to stay in control.
“I would like to see who can stay in front of him when the ball is in his hands,” Renchen said. “He changes speed, he’s shifty, and he just gets by everyone and gets in the lane when he wants to.”
Bradford makes it look easy with his smooth and natural game. He blends nicely between facilitator and scorer due to his combination of true point guard skills and natural ability to put the ball in the basket, both by getting to the rim or with a sound jumper. He’s capable of creating scoring opportunities for himself and teammates.
“His overall skill level jumps out at you,” said Renchen, who believes Bradford is on pace to be the best player he’s had in his 21 years as a head coach. “He has a freaky skill level after watching him practice every day. He’s great with the ball and he can really pass.”
Bradford, who will play with the Mac Irvin Fire 16U this July on the AAU circuit, is working on the one real drawback he will deal with going forward — the physicality of the game with his body type.
“He may not initially pass the eye-ball test,” Renchen said. “But he’s put in some work in the weight room and is making the effort to get stronger.”
If Bradford continues to work in gaining weight and strength, along with a committed work ethic, he will become the best player out of Bradley-Bourbonnais since Chris Gandy (Illinois) in the 1990s and Renchen’s best player since former Kankakee star guard Marcello Robinson, who played at Bradley.