HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut freshman Andre Drummond had heard all the chatter about how he was taking the scholarship of his friend and teammate Michael Bradley just to spend a year in school before heading to the NBA.
The 6-foot-10 center says he didn't want that to happen.
"I mean I played against Mike when I was 16 years old, and he worked real hard to get that scholarship," Drummond said after scoring 16 points and grabbing nine rebounds in UConn's 79-71 win over Fairfield on Thursday. "That's kind of like disrespectful to take that from him. I would never do nothing like that."
Drummond revealed this week that he decided to attend UConn this year as a walk-on, leaving the scholarship to Bradley, 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman who grew up in a home for children from troubled families in Tennessee.
Bradley had offered to give up his scholarship in August shortly after hearing that Drummond was committing to UConn. Bradley, the school said at the time, could qualify for other financial aid because of his background.
UConn has only 10 scholarships this season after losing one because of NCAA violations and two more because of a poor academic performance rating.
Drummond had decided to enroll just three days before the start of the fall semester.
Coach Jim Calhoun says it took 2½ months for the school and the NCAA to resolve the issue, and officially make Drummond a walk-on.
"My first responsibility wasn't to tell the press what was going on," he said. "Of course, it's none of your business. It's a private matter between two young men."
Drummond said he was aware that people were accusing him of taking a scholarship from an orphan, but it didn't bother him. He said he never planned to take it, and doesn't worry about what people think of him.
"I'm not going to sit there and argue with somebody," he said. "If that's what they think about me, then let them think. I'm not going to try to change somebody's opinion about me. All I know is that me and Mike did what we had to do."
Bradley remains sidelined after fracturing his right ankle in the preseason.
Drummond is averaging 10 points and five rebounds a game, but has hit 19 of his last 22 shots from the field in wins over Holy Cross and Fairfield.
He has not committed to staying in school past this season, but says he's enjoying the experience.
"I was always going to UConn," he said, "scholarship or not."