After struggling to find the right school fit, Pedro Bradshaw is guiding Bellarmine to a thunderous Division-I debut.

While it may still be a few years before we see Bellarmine in the NCAA Tournament, Pedro Bradshaw is ready to become a household name right now.

The Knights are still in their first season in Division-I basketball after making the jump from D-II in the offseason, and much like we saw with Merrimack in its inaugural season in the NEC, Bellarmine has not wasted any time in establishing itself as a force in the ASUN. Bradshaw is a big reason why.

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‘Vote for Pedro!’

In a typical season, Bellarmine’s meteoric rise to the top of the ASUN might have gotten a little more publicity, but with COVID-19 dominating the headlines for the past year, the Knights are flying under national radar a bit. (And, let’s be real, it’s the ASUN; so, maybe the story wouldn’t have gotten the pub it deserved, but you know what I’m saying.)

In case you haven’t been paying attention, Bellarmine currently sits atop the ASUN standings with a 10-2 league record following Saturday’s 87-63 win over North Alabama. Now, the Knights won’t be able to represent the league in the NCAA Tournament, since they are just at the outset of their four-year transitional period into Division-I, but the feat is impressive nonetheless.

So, how did they get here? Look no further than Pedro Bradshaw, who may be the leading contender for the ASUN Player of the Year award.

The 6-7 junior leads the team in scoring (15.4 ppg), rebounding (7.3 rpg), and steals (1.5 spg), a potent mix that currently has Bradshaw leading Ken Pomeroy’s “” rankings for the ASUN. As for where Bradshaw stands around these parts, here’s a look at the top five players in the league according to our Gold Star Guide rankings going into Saturday:

Top ASUN players in the Gold Star Guide, through Friday’s games.

As of this writing, Bradshaw is the only player from the league in the national Top 100 in the Guide, easily outpacing some better-known stars such as Liberty’s Darius McGhee and Lipscomb’s Ahsan Asadullah. The situation could end up being very similar to what we saw in the NEC last season, where Merrimack’s Juvaris Hayes took home Player of the Year honors while leading his team to a miraculous first season in the big leagues.

What makes Bradshaw such a dangerous player? Let’s break down his game a bit.

The junior can score from all over the court

Bradshaw has shown the ability to score at all three levels, though his size and strength make him most effective working the interior. Roughly 80 percent of his shots have come from inside the arc this year, but even when the junior steps back a bit, he’s still effective: Bradshaw is shooting 38 percent from deep this year, good for tenth in the ASUN among players with 30 or more attempts.

Here’s a look at Bradshaw doing what he does best: getting points in the paint.

In addition to his ability to score both inside and out, Bradshaw also plays active defense, as evidenced by his 1.5 steals per game and 2.8 percent steal rate, the latter of which is a top-five mark in the ASUN. He also takes fantastic care of the ball, turning the rock over on just 14 percent of possessions while being the most heavily-used piece (26.5% usage) in the Knights’ offense. Bradshaw even excels at the stripe, his 82-percent clip ranking second in the league among players with 50 or more free throws attempts.

Basically, he does a little bit of everything for Bellarmine, and he does it all quite well.

So, where did Pedro Bradshaw come from anyway?

This is not Bradshaw’s first D-I rodeo

Bradshaw’s college basketball career actually began in Division-I once upon a time, when he originally committed to Rick Byrd and Belmont. Coming out of Russellville (Ky.) High School, Bradshaw was pegged by ESPN as the state’s fifth-best recruit of the Class of 2017, ranking only behind Chris Vogt (Cincinnati), De’Von Cooper (Morehead State), Tavin Lovan (UAB), and David Sloan (ETSU) β€” not exactly bad company, considering all four of those players are currently thriving in D-I basketball. (By the way, also playing in the same prep region as Bradshaw was current Austin Peay star Terry Taylor, though he didn’t make ESPN’s recruiting list back then.)

In fact, Bradshaw made two Division-I stops before transferring to Bellarmine. During his time at Belmont, he never saw the court despite suiting up for nine games. After spending the first half of the 2017-18 season at the end of Rick Byrd’s bench, Bradshaw was granted a full release and transferred to intraconference foe Eastern Kentucky.

However, after another year where Bradshaw was unable to make much impact (just 73 minutes played all year), the school made a move to part ways with coach Dan McHale. Following that move, Bradshaw decided to make (another) one of his own.

Having already burned through a year of eligibility and his redshirt year, which was retroactively applied to his freshman season at Belmont, Bradshaw could’ve moved on to just about anywhere and played immediately; however, he opted to take a chance on Bellarmine, still a Division-II program at that time. In his first season for the lesser-known Louisville institution, Bradshaw started 24 games and averaged 9.2 points per game while shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc. He wasn’t yet the star of the team, but the skills were already on display as he helped the Knights to a 20-8 record and an eventually canceled postseason bid.

Unfortunately for Bradshaw and the viewing public alike, with NCAA rules prohibiting Bellarmine from appearing in the NCAA Tournament until 2025, there will never be an opportunity to see him play on March’s biggest stage. That said, Bellarmine would be a fantastic addition to the NIT, assuming that tournament is still held next month.

Oh, and one last thing: His name isn’t actually Pedro. It’s DeAndre.

But, you know what? We like “Pedro” better, too.

Andy Dieckhoff
Andy Dieckhoff

Analytics Editor, Heat Check CBB
Creator, Dieckhoff Power Index