Could former Tyner basketball star Michael Bradley be the key to Connecticut repeating as NCAA champs, even if he never plays a minute this coming season?
He could if his apparent decision to give up his scholarship this winter and go on financial aid frees up a spot on the Huskies roster for 6-10, 275-pound prep All-American Andre Drummond, regarded by many as the top player in the class of 2012, or clearly the best unsigned talent in the class of 2011.
Expected to sign on for a post-graduate year of prep school this winter, then head directly to the NBA Draft next summer, Drummond shocked all of college basketball late Friday night by texting he would join UConn for this coming season.
The only problem with that is that NCAA sanctions and Academic Progress Rating penalties have left Huskies coach Jim Calhoun with only 10 scholarships for the 2011-12 season, all of which are filled.
But according to ESPN.com, Bradley is apparently being encouraged to surrender his scholarship and go on financial aid this season, which would still leave the redshirt freshman with three more years of eligibility past this one, all of them presumably on scholarship.
Given that Bradley was expected to be no more than a backup this season that could help his long-term development.
However, there is little question that it immediately helps the Huskies' stock, UConn instantly being added to the trio of North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio State as the preseason picks to reach next spring's Final Four in New Orleans.
But unless Bradley agrees to go on financial aid rather than an athletic scholarship, there would be no room for Drummond, who would be ineligible to walk-on because he was recruited as a scholarship player.