One-and-stun: Tony Bradley adds to UNC’s offensive machine


Scoring the basketball is nothing new in Chapel Hill.

For years, North Carolina has routinely put together some of the most potent and efficient offenses in college basketball. The 2015-16 Tar Heels led the nation in offensive efficiency — 123.3 points per 100 possession, which is cooking. The Tar Heels have scored 90-plus points in each of their first three games; this is the first time UNC has done this to start a season since 1994-95, when Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace (Hey, remember those guys?) were the two leading scorers.

Some of the pieces are different, but with the team in the hands of junior Joel Berry, UNC is quickly becoming a force on the offensive side of the ball. A large portion of credit should be given to freshman big Tony Bradley — a former 5-star recruit and Burger Boy who has drawn rave reviews from just about everyone, including head coach Roy Williams.

Bradley has played just 50 minutes in UNC’s first three games, but he’s scored in double figures in each contest; the freshman is averaging 10.7 points per game while shooting a sizzling 70.6 percent from the floor. He’s scored 32 points on just 17 field-goal attempts, which translates to 1.88 points per shot — 14th in the ACC.

In the season opening win on the road against Tulane, Bradley had a good run when paired with Isaiah Hicks — another maven on the offensive glass. According to, when those two shared the floor with Berry, Nate Britt and Justin Jackson, North Carolina was plus-four against the Green Wave.

He’s already proven to be an effective offensive rebounder; Bradley has snagged 11 boards on that side of the floor, which is third in the ACC (teammate Kennedy Meeks is tops with 16). His offensive rebounding rate of 23.4 percent also ranks third in league — again behind Meeks and Jaylen Johnson, who we profiled earlier this week. This is where he generates most his offense; he knows his role is to sprint the floor end-to-end at all costs and bang on the glass for boards. So far, this has proven to be quite fitting for the rookie.

This month marked the 10-year anniversary of the NBA’s one-and-done rule. Since the implementation of the NBA’s age restriction, UNC has produced only a single one-and-done player: Brandan Wright — another former 5-star big man. Wright, who was drafted eight overall back in 2007, has put together a really nice professional career as a rim-running dunk machine (60.8 percent from the field for his career). Wright was a breathtakingly good player during his lone campaign in Chapel Hill: 14.7 PPG 1.8 BPG and 64.6 percent shooting. According to Ken Pomeroy, Wright finished 17th in the nation that year in effective field-goal percentage and ranked second on the team in offensive rating, behind only Tyler Hansbrough. North Carolina finished second in the nation in offensive efficiency that season — 117 points per 100 possessions.

It’s only been three games, but Bradley has at least started out as a better rebounder than Wright, who averaged just nine rebounds per 40 minutes while at UNC. Bradley, on the other hand, is snagging an astounding 14.4 rebounds per 40 minutes. It’s early in the year, and this isn’t the cleanest math, but Bradley looks like a star in the making for the Tar Heels. If he sticks around for his sophomore season, which is absolutely possible, the keys to the frontcourt will belong solely to him with Hicks and Meeks departing.

Before we get to that, though, it’s obvious that Bradley will be a player for the Heels this season. They aren’t super deep at the power positions, but their talent level is sky-high. It’s an incredible luxury to have rebounders and finishers like this, especially if Jackson and Berry continue to splash three-pointers. North Carolina has the tools, including Bradley, to bully teams at the rim, like last season, and finish with another top-five offense.