Just about everyone that has attended the University of Kansas has a story about spotting a basketball player on campus or in public. My wife encountered Jeff Boschee and Lester Earl on campus, I watched as an obviously underage Eric Chenowith danced the night away at the now defunct Brown Bear Brewery- his head a foot higher than everyone else’s making him extra conspicuous, my buddy Steve had a class with Nick Bradford.
If you know nothing else about Nick Bradford, you know that the guy had a great personality. He always looked like he had a great time on the court, and his fashion sense at the time was second to none. That personality was also seen off the court as my friend Steve could attest to. His famous encounter with Bradford occurred after a geography test in Lindley Hall, and the story has been rather infamous in our group of friends ever since. Steve had just finished a test and was waiting for a friend on a bench outside the Lindley lecture hall when Nick Bradford waltzed out of class. He sat down next to my friend, as he was waiting for someone as well. Without knowing my friend Steve, Nick blurts out, "Damn, that sh*t was tough!"
That prompted a small chuckle from my buddy, but it also initiated a small conversation between a regular student and one of the six or seven most famous people on campus at the time. Anyway, the conversation only lasted a few minutes before the friends of each arrived and it was time to head to the next class.
The point here is that Nick Bradford has always been a "people person" and it’s probably part of the reason he got into coaching. Bradford worked under Jeff Boschee at Missouri Southern for a few seasons before moving on to coach at the youth level and make an impact in young people’s lives.
But before all of that, Nick Bradford had a decent career at KU. His freshman season was the legendary 1996-97 season that saw Kansas lose only once in the regular season. Those teams were loaded and Bradford didn’t see much playing time. At 7.4 minutes per game (most likely in mop up time as KU was dominating many opponents), Nick averaged 2.3 points and 1.3 rebounds. He improved his sophomore season to 4.2 points and 2.5 rebounds in double the minutes. He also wore his socks to his knees and sported a headband. This has nothing to do with his basketball output, but it does speak to his personality. He later shed his headband and wore the typical for the time ankle socks as his role on the team changed from energy guy off the bench to starting forward.
Bradford’s breakout season was his junior campaign. He saw his minutes per game increase to a career high 27, and his totals also increased to 9.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, and just under three assists per contest. The Fayetteville, Arkansas native’s numbers decreased in his senior season as his minutes also decreased. He averaged 7.6 point and 4.8 rebounds in 1999-2000.
After he left Kansas, Bradford tried his hand at lower level basketball in the United States, but wound up finding his way to Europe to play. There, he played for Reims and Dijon in France, Sibiu in Romania, and Grindavik and Keflavik in Iceland. Since then, he has gone on to coach at the JUCO level along with the aforementioned stint at Missouri Southern.
Bradford continues to impact lives positively in the Kansas City area and in his native Arkansas through basketball.