Wildecats' Bradford Is An Athlete For All Seasons

January 22, 1992|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff writer

Wilde Lake's George Bradford is some kind of athlete. Basketball. Football. Soccer. Golf. You name it -- he excels at it.

Tremendous coordination. Good hands. A quick first step. He possesses all the physical gifts an athlete needs.

"George is the best all-around athlete I've ever coached," said Wildecats basketball coach Paul Ellis. "Basketball is not his primary sport, but if it had been you'd be looking at one awesome player."

Ellis coached Atholton to a county basketball title in 1972, then repeated the trick at Glenelg in 1977. He's shooting for a triple of sorts this season with the Wildecats, who came up a game shy of a co-championship last year. So far, he has the team rolling with a 2-0 league start.

Bradford, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior averaging 20.2 points for eight games, played a key role in both those league wins.

His steal and subsequent layup in the final minute against Centennial broke a 52-52 tie.

"After I stole the ball at the end, Centennial seemed to fall apart," Bradford said. "They lost their concentration."

After Centennial missed a shot, Bradford was fouled at the other end and sank both chances, making it a 56-52 game with 36 seconds left. After two more Centennial misses, Bradford hit a clinching layup with six seconds remaining for the 58-52 final. Bradford scored 17 points.

Last Friday against Hammond, a team Wilde Lake lost to twice during the regular season last year, but then beat in the regionalchampionship game, Bradford scored 25 points and was an awesome force driving to the basket.

Three times against Hammond he drove to the hoop, scored, was fouled and converted three-point plays. Early inthe fourth quarter he scored on a terrific shot -- an underhand scoop-and-flip that made fans do a double-take.

"He has a great move to the basket," Ellis said. "He just has a knack for sliding through. And he's picked up very few charges."

Ellis said there's no doubt Bradford is the guy Wilde Lake looks to when the going gets tough in crunch time.

"This is his third year on varsity, he's a co-captainwith Matt Nesbitt, and we look to him primarily to score and settle the team," Ellis said.

Bradford scored a career-high 29 points in a 70-66 loss to Mervo this season. And he had a 27-point game in a win over Newport Prep.

Bradford, who usually plays either a small forward or shooting guard position, also averages 4.5 rebounds -- second on the team.

"We like to keep him around the basket because he'ssuch an active player," Ellis said. "But rebounding is not the primary thing I'm looking for from him."

Bradford's favorite sport is golf. He's won a couple of important amateur championships. He played golf just one year for Wilde Lake and finished third in the county and fifth in the district.

He played two years of varsity soccer forthe Wildecats, and excelled as a goalie.

Last fall he donned a football uniform and followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Jack, who had a tryout with the Washington Redskins last summer after graduating from Maryland where he starred at linebacker.

George established his own football reputation as a free safety, punter and place-kicker. He intercepted eight passes.

"Playing organized football was always something I wanted to do, but hadn't done," Bradford said. "The adjustment was pretty easy. I just needed to learn a couple of tackling techniques and where to position myself."

He said his biggest athletic thrill so far was winning the state Class 1A footballtitle. And he hopes to play football and golf at the University of Maryland.

For now he'd be thrilled if the Wildecats could win a county basketball title. They've won only one in school history, and that was in 1978.

"We've set our minds on winning the county," Bradford said. We can be very good when we play with intensity, and I'm just trying to spark the flame."

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