What 7-foot-6 Shawn Bradley couldn't do as a freshman basketball phenomenon at Brigham Young, he's finally doing as a Mormon missionary to Australia.
He's gaining weight.After struggling to maintain a scant 210 pounds on his bony frame while leading BYU into the NCAA playoffs last year, Bradley is now 30 pounds heavier.
"I was surprised, with his metabolism," said Bradley's father, Reiner. "He put it on pretty quick. The first part of his mission he was in a (Sydney) ward with a lot of Polynesians, and they fed him pretty well."
In January, the 19-year-old Bradley was transferred 200 miles north to the ranching community of Tamworth. For the first time in his life he's not growing taller, but he hopes to keep adding pounds before his two-year mission ends in May 1993.
"Shawn has said he'd love to come home at about 280," his father said in a telephone interview from Castle Dale, Utah. "He certainly has room for the weight on his frame."
BYU coach Roger Reid is elated.
"Thirty pounds? That's great! Anything he can get is going to help," he said. "But what he really needs is 60, 70 or even 80 pounds."
In his freshman season, the Emery High product led the nation in blocked shots (177), while averaging nearly 15 points and eight rebounds a game. But he lacked the bulk to hold his position under the basket.
"What Shawn needs more than any one thing is weight and strength. He got moved around, two or three feet up in the air sometimes, even though he really is a competitor," Reid said.
Bradley has committed to donning a Cougar uniform again in 1993 as a sophomore, but with an NBA career beckoning he has not ruled out turning pro the following year.
Still, his father and his coach hope Shawn will finish his education - on the court and off - before entering the draft.
"That's a hard one to call," the elder Bradley sighed. "I probably will encourage him to stay around college.
"But there's a lot of things to consider. If he gets hurt at the college level, that's a tragedy for the pro ball," he said. "But if he can get stronger (continuing at BYU), then that's a plus."
Reid admits to self-interest, but bluntly states that not finishing his eligibility at the Mormon Church-owned school would be a mistake for Bradley.
"To my way of thinking, that would be the worst thing for him," the coach said. "He told us when he signed with us that he was going to take our team further than it's ever been, and I'm counting on that."
Reiner Bradley agrees. He knows his son has a multi-million-dollar NBA future, but he wants him to be ready both emotionally and physically.
"I've worried about him all the time, as big as he is. If he falls, it scares you half to death," he said. "Going into the pros, I don't know what to expect. Those guys are rough."'
Reiner Bradley's fatherly concern doesn't stop at Shawn. He also worries about his ninth-grade son, Justin, who is 6-7, and daughter Tasha, a 6-foot senior, both of whom play at Emery High.
Some of the 6-8 Reiner Bradley's fondest memories are of the one-on-one games he played with Shawn on the family's small outdoor court.
"He probably destroyed six or seven rims until we got a college-level, $250 breakaway rim and mounted it on two backboards," he said.
Admitting it's been years since he last beat Shawn in hoops, Reiner Bradley feels he's a good judge of talent - and he's confident his remarkably agile son will some day excel in the NBA.
"About the only shot I could get off was a hook, and that's around the 3-point line - and when's he not looking. I can see how he blocked all those shots.
"Where I get even is racquetball," he said. "He doesn't much like that."'