Jacob Kittipol | Echo
Senior Kendall Bradbury does not shy away from competition.
"In high school, I'd always go to the boys open gym," Bradbury said, "It helped me mentally. If you can hang with the guys, you can totally blow out the girls."
And blow out the competition she has. The senior forward recently broke the Taylor University scoring record with 2778 points and won the Crossroads League scoring title for the 2018-2019 regular season by averaging 22.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. She has helped the team earn a spot in the national tournament, which starts on March 6. Following the national tournament Bradbury will be headed to the EuroBasket draft combine in April.
Bradbury grew up in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, where she remembers in her earlier years being more of a swimmer, not playing basketball until middle school. She would also watch a lot of basketball, drawing inspiration and ideas from players like Steve Nash, Candace Parker and Kobe Bryant.
Going into high school however, Bradbury had a choice to make: basketball or swimming. After tearing her rotator cuff at swim practice, the answer was solidified for her.
Bradbury started on the court all four years at Valor Christian High School, making the final four her junior year and eventually winning a state championship at the 4A division her senior year in 2015.
"My sophomore year (in high school) was when I figured out I could be really good with this sport if I just put in more and more effort," Bradbury said.
Bradbury sought to have college planned out before her senior year. But despite her accolades which include breaking the scoring record at Valor Christian, ranking fifth in Colorado history with most free throws made and being named 4A player of the year, Bradbury remembers not getting a college offer until her senior year.
"It was brutal. . . it kind of sucked," Bradbury said, "I felt like I was very versatile, but also felt like it worked against me. The schools that I'd been looking at wanted either a 5'6 point guard or a 6'4 post player, and they didn't want the 5'10 'tweener' as you call it. They didn't want the player that could post up guards and could take the post players off the bounce."
Her journey to Taylor began through a road trip to campus with her parents, and a meeting with former head coach Kelly Packard.
"As soon as we walked on campus. . . it was just so different," Bradbury said. "There's 46,000 people where I live, and here there's one stop light in the whole town. It was very different and I needed different."
Shortly after, on Feb. 13, Bradbury reached out to Packard to commit to Taylor.
Bradbury would also start all four years at Taylor, but also remembers experiencing difficulty as a sophomore, part of which included seeing Packard leave after only four games. Having almost quit her collegiate career at Taylor then, she now attributes much of her success as a player and development as a person to current head coach, Jody Martinez, whom prior to Taylor served as head coach at Bethel University.
In his first season for the Trojans, Martinez lead Bradbury and the team to a 24-11 regular season record, which at the time was the team's first 20-win mark within the past five years. To Bradbury, it was refresher, especially after going below .500 at 13-18 in the year before.
"Ever since my junior year when coach Martinez got here, the game has just got so much more fun," Bradbury said. "I almost quit after my sophomore year, but he re-ignited the passion that I had as a little girl in middle school and when I first started playing. When coach Martinez and his wife came in, they completely blew me away. His wife. . . she just wanted us to be great women, even after we were done playing."
With the NAIA national tournament just around the corner, Bradbury also eyes a bigger opportunity to play overseas, with the EuroBasket draft combine set to take place in Tampa, Florida in April. When asked why she wanted to go overseas as opposed to going out for the WNBA, Bradbury responded by saying that because she was a basketball player, she couldn't go study abroad like a lot of her friends did.
"The idea (of going overseas) just seems more appealing," Bradbury said. "The opportunity to go learn, wherever I end up. And it's not like I'm going for school, I'm going there to live. I'm learning about their culture and how the country operates."
With her Taylor career coming to a close and an uncertain but exciting future just ahead, Bradbury chooses to remain rooted in her love of the game.
"Just thinking about the little girl who fell in love with the game when she was 12-years-old, and telling herself how good she can be one day if she wanted to," Bradbury said. "I want to continue to impact people's lives through the game."