Why Brian Wardle Will Make An Immediate Impact At Bradley
By Roy & Harv Schmidt
March 28, 2015
10:00 A.M. CST
As is the case almost any time the coaching carousel spins in the world of college basketball, the moment it was announced that Geno Ford would not be retained as the head coach of the men's basketball program at Bradley their fan base began asking us who we thought his likely replacement would be.
Having sources that were very much in tune with the situation, Illinois Prep Bulls-eye did not hesitate to let them know who the likely choice would be and why. And sure enough, things played out exactly the way we expected it to, with Brian Wardle being named the 14th head coach in the history of the Bradley men's basketball program last night. The official introduction will be made at a 5:00 PM press conference this afternoon.
To put it in simple terms, Wardle's hiring at Bradley makes perfect sense and is an ideal fit in so many ways. We are about to examine some of those in this entry.
First of all, there is no question that Wardle knows the lay of the land when it comes to being familiar with both high school and college basketball in the state of Illinois. He played at Hinsdale Central High School, where he was an all-stater who led his team to the state quarterfinals on Bradley's home court at Carver Arena as both a junior and senior. He is also well-aware of the proud basketball tradition at Bradley and the rich basketball community and passionate atmosphere that awaits him upon his arrival in Peoria.
But above all else, the greatest impact that Wardle figures to make at Bradley from the get-go figures to be with respect to recruiting. At Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wardle was successful at recruiting a roster where the bulk of its talent was comprised of players from the Chicago area. He did his homework and simply outworked others for Horizon League Player Of The Year Keifer Sykes, in addition to landing other recruits from the Windy City who proved to be hidden gems.
Make no mistake about it--Wardle's recruiting success at UWGB will pay immediate dividends at Bradley for a number of reasons. To begin with, Wardle is well-respected by all of the top coaches in the Chicago area on both the high school and traveling team circuits.
One such travel team program is the Mac Irvin Fire. That is important because it just so happens that Bradley's current top player and our choice for Missouri Valley Conference Freshman Of The Year--Josh Cunningham--played for the Fire. While questions have already been raised regarding the possibility of Cunningham deciding to transfer, in our opinion Wardle's strong relationship with the people who are instrumental in running the Fire should go a long way in being able to keep Cunningham in the fold at Bradley. Needless to say, this should be one of Wardle's first orders of business.
Not only that, but there could be additional recruiting carry-over that could prove to work in Bradley's favor. That is because we have already been told that there is a strong possibility that one of the recruits that Wardle landed in his 2015 recruiting class at UWGB could seek release and end up following Wardle to Bradley. Time will tell on that one.
Finally, the question abounds as to how Wardle will fill out the remainder of his coaching staff at Bradley. He figures to bring at least two of his assistants from UWGB with him. However, one also has to wonder about the possibility of him retaining Ronald "Chin" Coleman as an assistant. After all, Coleman's roots are also with the Fire plus he was Bradley's lead recruiter on Cunningham. Coleman's retention would only further solidify the stronghold Wardle already has in Chicago recruiting-wise.
Not to be forgotten in all of this is the man who was responsible for Wardle's hiring at Bradley--new Athletic Director Chris Reynolds. In many ways Reynolds is a carbon copy of Wardle in that he is young, energetic, bright and fully committed to doing what it takes to return Bradley basketball to its glory days. With that said, there is no question that it is a truly exciting time if you are a Bradley fan.
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