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Friday, September 2, 2011
Michael Bradley gives up his scholarship

By Diamond Leung

Andre Drummond has enrolled at Connecticut, and for the Huskies to add one of the top recruits in the nation onto their roster, someone needed to make a sacrifice with the team already in a scholarship crunch.

Redshirt freshman Michael Bradley became that guy and is now a walk-on after qualifying to receive financial assistance for college.

The New Haven Register detailed last year in a profile on Bradley the Chattanooga native's unstable upbringing that ultimately allowed him to qualify.
When Bradley was 11 years old, the tension between him and his mother, Jacqueline Phinazee, had reached a boiling point. Phinazee had trouble keeping a job and providing for her son (Bradley’s father was never a part of his life, and he is now deceased).

"My mom wasn't too stable, job-wise and financially," Bradley said. "She wasn't too stable to take care of me."

The financial stresses on the household caused Bradley to lash out. He never got into any serious trouble, but he started talking back to his mother, flouting her authority, and began lagging behind in his schoolwork. Phinazee eventually decided to send her son to the Tennessee Baptist Children's Home.

Bradley ended up living at the home during high school while he developed into a 6-foot-10 UConn recruit, according to the story. He ended up redshirting because of the Huskies' deep frontcourt, and it wasn't easy for him to sit out during a national championship season.

In an interview with WDEF-TV in July, Bradley recalled a conversation with coach Jim Calhoun.

"He was like, 'Mike, you're always out here working hard. You're always putting the effort in. I like what I see. But one thing that I don't see as much anymore is that you don't seem to be as happy as you used to be.'

"And I was like, 'What do you mean, Coach? I'm happy.' But he was like, 'But you're missing something. It's something that gave you your little edge, you know?' He was giving me like mental advice, which was kind of weird."

Now Bradley is in the spotlight after Calhoun asked him to give up his scholarship. The New Haven Register's UConn men's basketball beat writer, David Borges, wrote the piece on Bradley growing up in the children's home, and like our ESPN college basketball roundtable, he's a little uncomfortable that the freshman gave up a scholarship to accommodate Drummond.
It's a pretty terrific gesture on Bradley's part. I've been told by those close to him that he has been willing to do it from the start, so long as everything works out financially, and that he didn't feel forced into doing it.

Still, the whole situation makes me a little uncomfortable. Why should a kid who obviously has come from a tough background have to forfeit his scholarship to a kid who didn't even decide he'd be attending college until a few days before classes started? And I'm not blaming Drummond here, either. He's 18 years old, after all -- he's allowed to be a bit indecisive, especially when you consider all the various pressures on him to finally make a choice.

I blame a system that allows these types of things to happen.