Growing up, Randy Brady constantly heard that the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga "didn't recruit the city."
And there was some merit to it: a couple of area players had walked on at different times and others have transferred in, but since Brady was born, only two Chattanooga-area players have signed with the school — former Bradley Central standout Alphonso Pugh and former Tyner standout Jeff Smith.
It could have been due to a lack of talent in the area, or a lack of evaluation on the part of UTC coaches. Maybe it was players just choosing options not in town, but the narrative had been out there.
Brady admitted he hoped that things would change by the time he got to college because "anybody would love to play for their hometown school."
"It's just more comfortable," he said. "You've got family around. It was always a dream."
That narrative appears to be starting to change, slowly. Brady recently committed to the Mocs basketball program, ending a wild high school journey where he played at four schools in his four years: Baylor as a freshman, Brentwood Academy as a sophomore, McEachern (Georgia) as a junior and the first semester of this season before finishing up at Hamilton Heights this past semester.
Ironically, he will join freshman Jamaal Walker, who spent the first part of his high school career at Baylor before transferring to East Hamilton, in the UTC program. Walker and Brady were teammates at Baylor when Walker was a junior and Brady a freshman.
"I felt like that was full circle," Brady told the Times Free Press recently. "I commend Coach (Lamont) Paris for recruiting the city; there are going to be two Chattanooga kids on the roster next year, so that'll be perfect."
Brady is UTC's first commit this season, but in addition to bringing in players from the area, it continues Paris's trend of bringing in quality talent. According to 247Sports.com's composite rankings — which factor the rankings of recruiting services 247, Rivals and ESPN — four of the top eight players to ever commit to UTC have done so under the current head coach. Senior Darius Banks, who started his career at James Madison before transferring in last offseason, was first; 2018-19 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year Kevin Easley was second; and two-year starting guard Maurice Commander was eighth.
The 6-foot-6 Brady, who has started drawing comparisons to the 6-6 Banks, is seventh.
And now he's going to get the chance to join a pretty talented roster that won 18 games last season and is expected to return a vast majority of its rosters — including its top seven rotation pieces if sophomore guard Malachi Smith takes his name out of NBA Draft consideration.
"Considering I went to multiple high schools, my road was long," Brady noted. "I didn't start talking to UTC until the summer started, and like all the other schools I was talking to I got on a Zoom call with Coach Paris and the staff, and I was blown away by how genuine he was and how real he was, and I felt like it was the right place for me and it was home as well.
"I didn't want to go to a school where I had to just come in and had to take on a big role immediately. I wanted to come to a school where I could play with teammates who have already been in the system who I can learn from and they can teach me because they've already experienced a lot of college basketball. You might like a lot of schools, but you only get to choose one at the end of the day, so I had to go with the one I felt was the best for me."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.