- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Longhorns fans hoping 2009 uber-recruit Avery Bradley would stick around for his sophomore year will be disappointed with today's news. Bradley, who had been testing the NBA waters without an agent, is apparently set to sign with Dan Fegen, making him ineligible to return to college basketball in 2010-11.
The news probably doesn't qualify as a shock, but it will count as a disappointment. Bradley was ranked among the best recruits in his class by most recruiting services; ESPNU had him as the No. 1 overall player in 2009, ahead of studs like DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Favors, Xavier Henry and, yes, John Wall. The expectations were, um, high. Bradley didn't completely flop, scoring consistently throughout his freshman season and flashing plenty of individual brilliance, but he didn't have the same impact as Cousins or Henry or Wall, averaging 11.6 points per game and reading out more like a role player than a star in the final tempo-free analysis. In the meantime, Rick Barnes' talent-rich team went from No. 1 in the country to a meager 9-7 Big 12 record and a first round loss to Wake Forest in the NCAA tournament.
So it was probably fair to hope Bradley would want to come back for his sophomore year and make up for a quiet freshman season. Not so much. NBA scouts rarely seems to care how well players' teams do in their one-and-done seasons so long as those players are obviously talented, and Bradley is that. According to Chad Ford, NBA general managers currently see Bradley as a possible late lottery pick. That was enough.
Fortunately for the Longhorns, Barnes has another slew of talented players arriving in 2010 -- most notably No. 4-ranked point guard Cory Joseph -- as well as a group of high-potential holdovers from last season's class like J'Covan Brown and Jordan Hamilton. Bradley could have been a star in his sophomore year, and Texas fans would have loved to have him around, but the defection should hardly cramp Bevo's style. Now all Barnes has to do is get those guards to do something they couldn't quite handle in 2010 -- play coherent basketball. Simple, right?