Commentary

Gaddy, Bradley bring showstopping game to McDonald's All-American Game

Updated: April 1, 2009, 11:21 AM ET
By Ryan Canner-O'Mealy | ESPNRISE.com

At some point during Wednesday's McDonald's All-American Game, Abdul Gaddy and Avery Bradley are going to connect on a ridiculous how'd-they-do-that? kind of play.

Abdul Gaddy
Jesse Beals/Icon SMIWashington commit Abdul Gaddy is looking forward to finding West teammate Avery Bradley on the court.

It might be Bradley cutting back door and Gaddy finding him with a perfectly threaded bounce pass for a layup. It might be Gaddy throwing up a lob and having Bradley slam it home with authority.

But either way, you can take it to the bank these two will combine for at least one highlight.

If it looks like they've played together forever, that's because they have. Until this year, when Bradley transferred to Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) to get his grades in order before heading to college, the duo was inseparable on the court.

"We always had that chemistry," Gaddy says.

Ever since the seventh grade, Gaddy and Bradley ran together. Whether it was AAU, pickup or for Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma, Wash.), Gaddy ran the point and Bradley was his wingman.

"It's really like I know where he's going to be," Gaddy says. "I throw it up and he'll go get it."

After spending this season apart, they get one more chance to ball together on the West team at this year's McDonald's All-American Game (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET).

McDonald's Game

Not in Miami? ESPN has you covered. Check out the 2009 boys' McDonald's All-American Game on Wednesday (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET). The girls' McDonald's All-American game tips off at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.

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Ronnie Flores went to the teams' first practices and the POWERade Jam Fest.

For three years, no one had a better seat to the Abdul and Avery Show than Bellarmine coach Bernie Salazar.

"They played together year-round for so many years, they really knew each other's strengths very well," Salazar says. "They were pretty fun to watch."

But when Bradley made the move to Findlay, it was tough on both of them. They each had to make adjustments as Bradley adapted to life away from home and Gaddy got used to the spotlight of being The Man.

Still, each player thrived.

Bradley, who has signed with Texas and is the No. 7 senior in the ESPNU 100, led Findlay to a perfect 30-0 regular season while averaging 18.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, three assists and three steals per game. Gaddy, who has inked with Washington and is the No. 16 senior in the ESPNU 100, averaged 23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. But without Bradley, Bellarmine struggled, finishing 15-11 and missing the state tournament.

Each player brings specific skill sets to the table, and that's why they work together so perfectly.

Bradley is a classic high-flying wing who makes headlines with his highlight-reel dunks. But he's far from one-dimensional. Unlike so many elite scorers at the high school level, Bradley can be a lockdown defender who actually enjoys shutting down his opponent.

[+] EnlargeAvery Bradley
Josh Holmberg/Icon SMIAvery Bradley is back playing with Gaddy after spending the season with powerhouse Findlay Prep.

"Defensively, he's like a caged dog," Findlay Prep coach Michael Peck says.

Gaddy, meanwhile, is the prototypical pure point guard. Like his idols Chris Paul and Brandon Roy, he makes his teammates better and always makes the smart basketball play.

"Our guys love playing with Abdul," Salazar says. "He brings out the best in everyone.

"He might not have the blinding speed and he might not do a 360 dunk," the coach adds. "But he will make some plays that make you go, 'Wow.' And he's just very solid in everything he does. For a basketball purist, it's a pleasure to watch him play."

And the best time to watch him play is when he's teamed up with Bradley, just like he will be tomorrow night.

"I don't have to walk up to him and tell him what I'm going to do," Bradley says. "If I'm going to go backdoor for an alley-oop, he just knows where I want it. He can tell by how I'm taking off."

So now you know. Just don't take your eyes off the game when these two are in there together. Because you never know when something special is going to happen.

Ryan Canner-O'Mealy is a senior writer for ESPN RISE Magazine.

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