LAS VEGAS — A familiar face was waiting for Utah Jazz center Tony Bradley near the tunnel as he exited the court Tuesday at Cox Pavilion.
After witnessing Bradley’s 17-point, seven-rebound performance from the stands, North Carolina coach Roy Williams made his way over to speak with the former Tar Heel center following the Jazz’s 97-93 victory.
Bradley iced the game with a pair of late free throws.
“He’s gotten better and better every year,” Williams told the Deseret News. “His body’s gotten better. He’s no longer a young kid. He’s maturing into a young man, and he still has the want, too. He has a great desire. He’s going to get better and better for a long time.”
His advice to Bradley?
“Keep doing what he’s doing,” Williams said.
After receiving Salt Lake City Summer League Standout honors in Utah with 20.0 points, 15.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game over the three-day event from July 1-3, Bradley continues to shine in Las Vegas with his new look, slimmer frame. Bradley is averaging 18.0 points and 10.5 boards in the pair of games he’s played in on 54 percent shooting in Sin City.
“Tony’s worked his butt off this summer and he’s really coming along well,” said Jazz assistant coach Vince Legarza. “You can tell how hard he’s playing and it’s just another step in his development and he’s just going to keep on going.”
Seeing Williams was a pleasant surprise for Bradley, though. Since his one-and-done season at North Carolina, capped by a 2017 NCAA national title, Bradley has communicated with Williams but hadn’t saw him face to face in some time.
“I was so excited to see Coach Williams. It’s been a long time,” Bradley said. “It’s been like a year and a half and he was just telling me how proud of me he is and my body looks great, I played great and overall he was just happy to see me.”4 comments on this story
Bradley, 21, still credits Williams for his overall development as a player before working with Jazz coach Quin Snyder and his staff in the NBA. He was just the third one-and-done player during Williams’ tenure when he declared for the draft in 2017. Now, he sees a big opportunity ahead this season, after splitting time with the Jazz and Salt Lake City Stars of the G League for his first two years.
“He was very important,” Bradley said of Williams. “I grew a lot in that one year at Carolina. From there on, when I got drafted it just went higher and higher.”