If you are familiar with mid-major college basketball, you know that the New Mexico State Aggies have been one of the most accomplished programs over a long period of time now; consistently staying relevant in not only their own conference, but on a national radar too. They have been the class of the WAC for the past decade and a half, appearing in 10 NCAA Tournaments and winning a combined 17 WAC Championships between regular season and tournament titles over a 16 year span. The program reached new heights last season, finally advancing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993 by upsetting UConn in a 12 vs 5 first round matchup. Even after losing head coach Chris Jans to Mississippi State following the season, as well as the WAC POY Teddy Allen to the NBA Draft and 2nd leading scorer Jabari Rice to the Texas Longhorns, they don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
The Aggies don’t rebuild, they reload. And they’re back at it again, having reeled in multiple high level transfers this off-season in order to stay at the top of the standings during their last run in the WAC before transitioning to Conference USA in 2023-24. One of the guys they’ve brought in and fans will soon learn about is Doctor Bradley, a 6’8” guard from Salt Lake Community College, the nation’s #1 ranked NJCAA D1 program for the majority of last season. Bradley averaged 13.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and led the Bruins in field goal percentage at 63%. He was one of the main stars for a team that advanced all the way to the JUCO National Championship Game in 2022.
Doc is a big time athlete and with the combination of his size, speed, versatility and explosive jumping ability; he is going to be a nightmare for WAC opponents this upcoming season. He caught plenty of bodies last season with SLCC, posterizing defenders time and time again. Go to his Instagram @docb13 and check those highlights out, they are beyond impressive. Bradley committed to New Mexico State on April 2nd over offers from Wichita State, Tulsa, and numerous other mid-majors. He also received interest from power conference schools like Ole Miss, Arizona State, Georgetown, and Utah. Trevor and I were fortunate enough to have him join us on the Mental Dimes NCAAM Podcast this week, and we found out that his story to get to this point is truly remarkable, a testament to his perseverance and a mentality to never give up.
Bradley played his high school ball at Junipero Serra HS in Gardena, CA. He was a 2nd Team All-Conference selection in his junior year, but missed his senior season due to an injury. Deciding to commit to Cal State Fullerton in the Big West, he ended up having to redshirt his freshman season in 2019-20, and then had to deal with the effects of the pandemic in 2020-21 during his redshirt-freshman campaign. Despite averaging 5.2 PPG and 3.0 RPG in just 12 minutes per contest with the Titans, he told us that his time at CSU Fullerton was a lot to handle- having to deal with emotions, pressure, and oftentimes struggling with his confidence. He said he had to overcome feelings of depression, and at one point he even wanted to stop playing basketball. But he credits his mother; who told him not to leave, to stick with it and keep going.
After the 2020-21 season Bradley decided it was time for a new start. We asked him what made him want to transition from a Division 1 school to the JUCO level, and he said he needed an opportunity to reinvent himself. “After leaving Fullerton, I had other D1 options but I didn’t like those. I really had to bet on myself, I felt that I could get better offers so I went to SLCC to find myself, gain back my confidence, and just to show everyone who the real Doctor Bradley is.” At SLCC, Bradley definitely found himself in a big way, shining as one of the key pieces to a 35-2 team that was one win away from bringing a national title back to Salt Lake City. He had a 28 point performance at the College of Southern Nevada and 23 points vs Laramie County CC last year on his way to becoming the 3rd leading scorer on a roster that had 9 players who have committed or signed to play for NCAA Division 1 schools this upcoming year. Bradley praises SLCC for showing him what it takes to be a winner- how to buy in and trust the process-something that has prepared him well to shine with the Aggies in the future. His time with SLCC really changed his mentality; the way he thinks and approaches situations, plus it taught him how to sacrifice and most importantly; to stay strong minded when things get tough.
New Mexico State recently hired Greg Heiar to take over the Aggies program, one of the most successful JUCO coaches in the country. He was the coach of Northwest Florida State College, the opponent that knocked off Bradley and the SLCC Bruins during that NJCAA D1 National Championship Game in 2022. “GH” as he is referred to, has been an assistant with ETSU, Wichita State, and LSU prior to his stint at the JUCO level. We asked Doc what the process was like going from an opposing player of GH in the national championship matchup, to the recruitment and then commitment to play for him just a few weeks later. “Coach GH knew a lot about me, and believed in my game. He said a lot of other teams would probably use me as a post or a forward but he knew that I’m really a guard. He likes to run a four guard, one big system and preaches that I’ll be used as the 4th guard and I’ll be able to work with the PGs and develop my guard skills. I really liked the sound of that”. Bradley said that he also goes with who he can trust, and with Coach Heiar that trust is already there. “If you don’t have a good relationship with the coach, then nothing really matters”.
Doc says he is working a ton on his shooting this summer as he gets ready to head to Las Cruces. A lot of repetition working on his mid-range game, getting his shot off quicker, things of that nature. With his proven playmaking ability off the bounce and how he thrives in the open court, if he can become a lethal shooter as well, he will truly be a dangerous matchup for anyone facing the Aggies. One of the last questions we had for Bradley was what he can bring to the table with NMSU and to the WAC in general for 2022-23. “What I can bring to the WAC is someone playing hard, giving a lot of effort, and just showing my versatility. Helping my team out any way I can- being a defender, rebounding, anything really.” Aggies fans, your team is without a doubt getting a high level player with an even higher level of character; someone that will impact the New Mexico State program from day one.