Some young players take time to develop before they make big impacts on the game.
Sophomore guard Jaycee Bradley hasn’t been one of them, as she became a leader of the new-look team early on in the season.
Bradley has become one of the most noteworthy leaders on the team this season, averaging second in minutes and points per game. She’s also ranked No. 13 in the nation for three-point field goal percentage (45.4 percent), No. 17 in three-point field goals made (59) and No. 25 in three-point field goals per game (2.95).
Becoming a Coyote
Bradley said she’s been playing basketball for as long as she can remember. Both of her parents were coaches, so she started attending camps at a very young age.
“My dad just kind of put a ball in my hands right away, and I fell in love with it,” she said.
After playing high school basketball in Norfolk, NE, Bradley said she was very happy to be recruited by USD.
“It’s a great family community and really gives you a family feel when you are here,” she said. “Another major key for me was that USD was one of the only places that would let me pursue nursing and basketball.”
Bradley said there was an adjustment period when transitioning from high school basketball to D-1 basketball, especially in terms of off-season training.
“The style of play is a lot faster, but one of the biggest transitions for me was defensively,” she said. “You have to get used to guarding people that can do it all and on a much higher level of play.”
Stepping up her game
As a freshman, Bradley was in a much more reserved role than the breakout player people see today.
Even though she was the only true freshman on the team to play in all 38 games for the Coyotes, she was behind a stacked senior core. Bradley said keeping herself focused and maintaining her work ethic was a big key to becoming one of the leaders of the team this season.
“I had to make sure to keep a great attitude and keep learning from the seniors and coaches,” she said. “An even bigger thing for me now is to maintain my work ethic and work as hard as I can.”
Going to the gym on her own time and doing extra work have helped her step up to the role she’s in now, she added.
Coach Dawn Plitzuweit said that Bradley made a huge impact on the team on both sides of the ball.
“She is doing so much for us every game, and even beyond the stats,” Plitzuweit said. “She’s always putting in the work whether its getting rebounds, scoring or defensively.”
One of Bradley’s main goals is to bring the team to the NCAA Women’s D-1 Basketball Tournament.
“Last year we made an awesome run in the WNIT, but I think taking that next step and making it to the ‘March Madness’ and trying to win a couple games there would do a new thing for the university,” she said.
Despite this goal and her commitment to games and practices, Bradley said her classes come first. As a freshman, she made the Summit League honor roll. She said she usually starts off the day with her classes and ends the day at the library, after her practices and workouts.
“After the five years, I am not sure what I want to do or if I want to continue playing, but with my nursing career, I want to work for a few years as an RN and then go back to school to become a nurse practitioner,” she said.
Bradley said she spends most of her time that isn’t dedicated to school
at the gym.
“I spend a lot of time whenever I’m able to in the gym putting in extra work either by myself or with teammates after practice,” she said. “I try to keep a healthy balance with putting in the work as much as I can for both school and sports.”