The day may come when the hall of fame committee at Belmont University will write words to describe why Evan Bradds is its newest inductee. And it won’t refer to the special people and places he got to know.
Instead, the plaque will describe Bradds, who was an all-state player at Greeneview High School, as an undersized post player who was a two-time Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year, a two-time national leader in field goal percentage, an academic All-American and an honorable mention All-American.
But those accomplishments are only part of the story Bradds will tell about his college career for an NCAA Division I mid-major that has won 90 games in his four years, played in the NCAA Tournament once and will soon play in its third NIT.
Sure, he won’t forget the victory at North Carolina his freshman year and winning the OVC tournament his sophomore year, but other memories will fade.
“I won’t remember individual games as much as I’ll remember the times I got to spend with people who were around me for those four years,” Bradds said Tuesday after speaking to the Xenia Rotary Club.
At the top of Bradds’ list is Belmont head coach Rick Byrd, who has guided the Bruins for 31 seasons. One reason Bradds chose Belmont was because he knew Byrd wouldn’t leave for another school.
“I couldn’t have asked to play for a better guy,” Bradds said. “He’s a lot different than a lot of coaches. He’s more interested in us having a college experience than just playing basketball.”
That’s why Bradds was home over the weekend before heading back to Nashville on Wednesday. The top-seeded Bruins were upset in the OVC tournament last week, so Byrd let his players have a few days off before starting practices for the NIT, which will be announced Sunday. The Bruins are guaranteed an NIT spot as OVC regular season champions.
Bradds hopes for more memories like getting to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden. But if not he’s got plenty of traveling memories to share that have influenced his life.
After his freshman season, Bradds joined several teammates and several players on the women’s team on a mission trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Bradds saw third-world conditions in one of the most impoverished areas in the U.S. and an alcoholism rate of around 80 percent.
Prep Spotlight: Q/A with Greeneview’s Evan Bradds
Last summer Bradds ministered and help share the Christian gospel in New Zealand with an Athletes in Action team led by coach Kelly Combs. Bradds saw the city of Christchurch that has barely begun to recover from a devastating earthquake in 2011. He said he couldn’t imagine that same lack of progress in the U.S.
In between, the Belmont team toured England and Ireland in an offseason tour the NCAA permits every four years.
“You don’t think about getting to do those things, but those will probably be the things I remember the most,” Bradds said. “Going to see those things and opening my mind — opening my world really — and seeing other parts of the world and seeing what this world has to offer and seeing what it’s all about.”
Bradds isn’t done traveling. His next goal is to play professionally, and that likely means playing overseas. He said he’s just not ready to quit playing. When the playing days are over, he’s not sure the finance degree is what he will fall back on.
“I would love to coach and use the gifts that I have and give them to other people,” he said. “I think coaching would be the best way to do that.”
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