This marks the 30th anniversary of USA TODAY recognizing the nation's top high school athletes. As we prepare to unveil the 2013 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Basketball Team at the end of the season, we'll dig into the archives and check in with ALL-USA honorees from the past three decades. Today, we catch up with 2009 ALL-USA player Avery Bradley.
The Boston Celtics have won eight of their past nine games, even with point guard Rajon Rondo lost for the season to a knee injury and some of that success can be attributed to the play of former American Family Insurance ALL-USA basketball player Avery Bradley.
Bradley, who led Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) to a Super 25 title in 2009, is averaging 8.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game for the Celtics this season, but it is his defense that has really gotten attention as he frustrates opposing players from Steve Nash to Jameer Nelson to Lou Williams.
Rondo says that Bradley is the best defensive guard in the NBA. That doesn't surprise Findlay Prep coach Todd Simon, who was an assistant with the Pilots when Bradley was named to the All-USA first team in 2009.
"He was a one-man press for us," Simon said. "Guys didn't even want to bring the ball up against him. There were some games where he would take the team out of their offense for the whole half."
Bradley, who played one year at Texas before turning pro, has battled injuries in the early part of his career. He sustained an ankle injury in a predraft workout in 2010. Last season, a shoulder injury sidelined him during the playoffs. His ensuing offseason shoulder surgery sidelined him for the first 30 games this season. He came back on Jan. 2, only to be bothered by a rib injury until recently.
However, injuries are also the reason he's gotten a chance to show what he can do.
He was thrust into the starting lineup last season when Ray Allen was sidelined with an ankle injury and Bradley's minutes have climbed now that Rondo is out for the year with a knee injury. When Bradley is in the starting lineup, the Celtics are 13-7, the best record of any Celtics player.
"Considering he's only in his third year in the league, what's impressed me is his ability to run the team and his assertiveness to get them into the offense," Simon said. "He's handling pressure and making plays for others."