UNC’s Tony Bradley remaining in NBA draft

UNC freshman forward Tony Bradley is entering the NBA draft after averaging 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds for the Tar Heels last season.
UNC freshman forward Tony Bradley is entering the NBA draft after averaging 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds for the Tar Heels last season. Robert Willett

North Carolina freshman forward Tony Bradley has hired an agent and will remain in the NBA draft, leaving college basketball after one season -- and leaving UNC with a significant void in its frontcourt entering next season.

The 6-foot-11 Bradley played about 15 minutes per game last season, and averaged 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds. He was a key reserve for the Tar Heels, who won the national championship, and had he returned to school he could have been the focal point of UNC’s low-post offense.

Bradley, though, told the Associated Press after UNC’s national championship victory that he intended to go through the pre-draft process. And he decided to remain in the draft after participating in the NBA draft combine and working out with several teams.

“Watching all the great Tar Heel players while I was growing up made Carolina my dream school and this past year made for some great memories,” Bradley said in a statement that UNC released. “... “Even though I only played one year it feels like I’ve been part of the UNC program for a lot longer and I will be a Tar Heel forever.”

Bradley has been projected as a first-round pick by some outlets, but he’s not considered a sure-thing to be drafted that highly. DraftExpress.com, which is considered the most accurate draft projection source, has Bradley going in the second round, with the 42nd overall pick.

If Bradley is selected in the first round, he’d receive a guaranteed contract. If he’s selected in the second round, his contract would not be guaranteed unless he makes an NBA roster. In a statement, UNC coach Roy Williams offered his support of Bradley’s decision.

“Tony helped us win the ACC regular-season championship and the national championship and we appreciate all that he has done and will continue to accomplish as a Tar Heel,” Williams said. “... We will continue to help him develop as a player and support him fully as he reaches his dream of playing professional basketball. We will enjoy watching him play for a long time to come.”

Bradley’s departure leaves a significant void in UNC’s frontcourt. The Tar Heels will be reliant on three freshman – Garrison Brooks, Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley – to fill roles vacated by Bradley and departed seniors Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks.

Bradley becomes UNC’s first one-and-done player since Brandan Wright, who in 2007 entered the draft after his freshman season.

University of North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams talks with reporters about the decision-making process for Tar Heel players staying for another season or departing for the NBA.

VIDEO: Rep. David Lewis introduced House Joint Resolution 921 during a joint session of the N.C. House and Senate to honor the Tar Heels Wednesday, May 3, 2017. The resolution stated Tony Bradley and Theo Pinson are required to follow the decision

Andrew Carter: 919-829-8944, @_andrewcarter