Bradford eager to help pro prospects with Cobras
It’s been more than 35 years since his days playing basketball at both Hamden Hall Country Day, then Wilbur Cross, but Troy Bradford remembers them fondly — and remembers the difficulty of being overlooked trying to make it at the next level.
Bradford was a 5-foot-9 guard who eventually did get noticed — by Fairfield University. He helped the Stags win the MAAC tournament twice to qualify for the NCAA Division I tournament in 1986 and 1987.
Taking the reins as the first head coach of the Connecticut Cobras of the The Basketball League, Bradford is making it one of his top priorities to prevent others from being overlooked.
“I’ll be helping young men out that might have gotten overlooked because of their size by Division 1 schools like I was,” Bradford said. “We have to make it easier on those kids so they don’t have to grind as hard as I did.”
Bradford became the Cobras coach earlier this month. The team, with Norwalk as its home base of operations, doesn’t start its season until March of 2022. But there is plenty to do before the season begins.
The Basketball League (TBL) is a professional league that is expanding from 29 to 45 teams for next season. Both Bradford and Anthony Hill, the team’s owner and CEO, said players have gotten overseas contracts and spots on rosters in the NBA’s G League.
“We are hoping this will open up doors for them (players) all over. What teams want to see are stats against grown men. What can you do against grown men?” Bradford said.
Also, former NBA players Steve Francis (Houston), Jerome Williams (Las Vegas) and Kendrick Perkins (Beaumont. texas) have ownership stakes in TBL franchises.
“What’s in it for me is in my career, I’ve done the coaching thing. Ownership was the next logical step,” said Hill, who coached the Wilbur Cross boys team from 2008-12. “I wanted to get involved to help build something new. Connecticut hasn’t had men’s professional basketball in a long time.”
Among Bradford’s professional stops was the Connecticut Skyhawks in the United States Basketball League, where he was the No. 1 draft pick for the organization. He also played overseas in Spain and Italy. The Hamden native and Meriden resident was inducted into the Fairfield University Hall of Fame in 2001.
Bradford, 55, was the founder and former coach of the United Sons and Daughters AAU program based out of Stamford. He is currently a probation officer in New Britain.
Bradford said he was
interested in possibly owning a team in the TBL until he was approached by Hill and Ed Battle, the team’s president and president of basketball operations. He gets to be involved in a team both coaching and having input on the team’s makeup.
Hill said the season will be more than 30 games. He feels the TBL is “quality basketball. If I relate it to baseball, to me, it’s AA (level).” Now not only does he need to find investors and sponsors, Hill needs to find a place to play its season that begins in seven months and ends in June of 2022.
The first of six combines will be held Sept. 18 at the Vale Sports Club in Middletown. Players can sign up for the combine through the website connecticutcobras.com.