Transferring colleges three times is no one’s ideal experience. Yet, for Bellarmine guard Pedro Bradshaw, that has been his on-going reality.
Bradshaw initially committed to four years at Belmont in 2017, but after he found himself outside of the gameday rotation – when he initially thought he would be playing – he grew discontent with the situation. The result would be a two-year odyssey that saw Bradshaw question his future in basketball and where exactly his big break would even come from.
“During my recruitment, I wanted to go to a place where I could play right away,” said Bradshaw. “I felt the best bet for me to play was to go to Belmont. Hall of Fame coach, great guys, and a great education.”
The Belmont nine-game stint. Should I be transferring colleges?
His early freshman season harbored some difficulties. He took his bumps and bruises on the floor as he worked to learn a new offensive system. And that system was one that didn’t feature him as a primary creator – something Bradshaw had been in high school.
As he acclimated to the system, his play improved. He grew accustomed to his teammates’ playing styles and where exactly he fit on the floor. Bradshaw finally started beating out the guys he felt he was better than. Yet, his standing on the team didn’t seem to change.
“As I started to get into the flow of things, I started to improve. I started beating out some of the older guys on the team that was at my position,” said Bradshaw. “I realized a lot of coaches will play the older guys, just because they are older. They have been in the system, they can play, they trust them.”
One thing Bradshaw admits now that he didn’t understand as a freshman is the value seen in being coachable, and as cliche as it sounds, trusting life’s process.
“I was hardheaded,” said Bradshaw… “was being asked to redshirt, and I didn’t want to. I was beating these guys out, and I felt I could play… wasn’t thinking long term and the advantages that come with redshirting. I was just extremely impatient and just wanted to play.”
So after an underwhelming nine games at Belmont, Bradshaw would enter the transfer portal looking for a place to make a lasting impact on the team.
Eastern Kentucky mishap
He was a wide-eyed 19-year-old kid who didn’t understand that undergoing trials and tribulation brings success. He didn’t realize that going through such disappointment and hard times only bolsters an individual’s character. But now, he was onto what he assumed were greener pastures in Eastern Kentucky University, an inter-conference rival with Belmont.
As he settled into his new university with hopes of finding a new role, the coach that recruited him, Dan McHale, was fired. That changed everything.
“Everyone was scrambling to figure out what to do. They brought in the new coach, and I had never met him before, and he had never met me. There just was no established trust,” said Bradshaw. “I didn’t have any disrespect; I just didn’t know him.”
Where things went wrong
The wheels fell off the 2018-19 season for Bradshaw. Things didn’t go nearly as planned under the new head coach, A.W. Hamilton. First, he had to wait until December to play. Then, once he was eligible to play, there was a lack of minutes available. Coaches always want to play their own guys.
Bradshaw said he felt like he left one situation only to find himself right back in the same boat.
At the end of the season, Hamilton called Bradshaw into his office and told him that his best bet was to look for another place to play.
“He was willing to bring in his own guys, and I respect that. But man, it was tough,” said Bradshaw. “Just now, I am back on the market again.”
Transferring colleges again
Entering the transfer portal a second time in two years came with its social stigmatization. Teams were now looking at Bradshaw as a problem player instead of a team-first guy who wanted an opportunity to play.
Knowing that’s how coaches and teams around Division I basketball viewed him hurt, Bradshaw said. However, he couldn’t dwell on contrary opinions on his character – he just needed a program that believed in him.
“I was just having a tough run of luck,” said Bradshaw.
That is when Bellarmine came into the picture. He had a relationship with some of the coaches on staff, and the team was a Division II powerhouse. Furthermore, the program reminded him of where he first started – Belmont.
Things are looking up
Since arriving on campus in the 2019-20 season, Bradshaw has finally found what he couldn’t find before. The team believes in him, and he gets along with the guys well. For the first time in his purloined college experience, he feels at home.
“I’ve just been growing and trying to improve,” said Bradshaw. “The coaches have a lot of faith in me. They started me every game but four, and I played well.”
His redshirt sophomore season saw him average 9.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, and two assists per game. The team finished 20-8 with an opportunity to play in the NCAA Division II national tournament, had it not been for COVID-19.
Such a crazy journey, one that saw Bradshaw on three teams in just four years, would be hard on anyone. And yet, really, Bradshaw is only just getting started. With that, though, he doesn’t discount the importance of each stop along the way. Thanks to that maturity, for the first time in his college career he’s the leader on a team. For Bradshaw, that’s the most important part.
“I now have an opportunity here to step up as the guy,” said Bradshaw. “It would be for the first time since high school. It’s some pressure, but not anything I can’t get used to. If anything, it’s exciting.”
That excitement is only more so now, since Bellarmine moved up to Division I and will be competing in the ASUN Conference.
How Bradshaw feels now about transferring colleges
Just to get to this point, Bradshaw jumped over hurdles that most four-star prospects don’t have to experience ever. With that, he learned that fit is everything.
Basketball is a game of trust, and finally, Bradshaw feels as though he has some from both his team and coaches.
“I have gone through hell. But in that process, I learned so many lessons about life,” said Bradshaw. “I was so naive. But still, I don’t regret anything. I just had to learn how to be patient.”
I am a college basketball writer primarily based in Nashville, covering all mid-major activity along with Big Ten hoops.