BY JEREMY HOECK
Jaycee Bradley just so happened to be at a basketball practice in Ames, Iowa, on the day the University of South Dakota women’s basketball team played in the NCAA Tournament in March.
Bradley, a 5-foot-9 guard from Norfolk (Nebraska), had already been considering USD at that point, but seeing the Coyotes face Stanford on the big stage helped with her eventual college decision.
“They competed pretty well,” Bradley said Wednesday evening, hours after she signed to play basketball for the Coyotes.
“That was cool to see them play a team like Stanford and in person.”
Bradley, who averaged 18.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game for Norfolk last season as a junior, played summer AAU basketball with the All Iowa Attack, out of Ames.
That meant a four-hour drive one way just for practice, and that was once or twice a week during the summer.
“We put on a lot of miles, that’s for sure,” she said.
Bradley also did quite a bit of driving to and from Vermillion over the last few months.
Between a couple of unofficial visits, an official visit in May (when she committed) and a few other visits to campus to spend time with the Coyote players, Vermillion is becoming quite familiar, she joked.
“It’s been a lot of fun, the girls are very welcoming,” Bradley said.
Having to wait nearly six months before she could sign her National Letter of Intent, Bradley found it hard to contain her excitement.
“I was really excited to sign because I’ve known for a long time,” she said. “I’ve been on campus a lot the last few months.”
Bradley was one of three high school seniors to sign Wednesday to play basketball for the Coyotes, joining Megan Bonar (Kansas) and Madeline Homoly (Kansas). The fourth commit, Allison Arens of Crofton, Nebraska, will likely sign after this weekend — she is competing at the Nebraska State Volleyball Tournament in Lincoln.
For Bradley, her decision to commit and eventually sign had a lot to do with the USD coaching staff, led by head coach Amy Williams.
“The coaching staff and the girls are so personable,” Bradley said. “Plus it’s a good fit for me academically.”
And the idea of joining a program coming off that NCAA Tournament appearance?
“I think they’re going to be there a few more times in the future,” Bradley said.