As Bradley became more comfortable with Western ways, his scoring average rose from 13.7 as a freshman to 15.7 as a sophomore to 19.1 last year. So far this season it's 16.5. "I just realized that by being in Laramie I had to make a big sacrifice," he says. "Stuff like a downtown and social life aren't important now. I've got school and basketball, which I wouldn't have if I took the wine and women. Now I just stay home a lot."
Home for Bradley is an off-campus apartment he shares with teammate Kenneth Ollie. With its wall-to-wall carpeting, stereo system and 23-inch color television, in addition to the portable color set and king-sized waterbed in his bedroom, there's little reason for Bradley to want to go anywhere else. There's still enough of the city kid in Bradley that he only recently bought his first pair of Wrangler jeans and cowboy boots, explaining, "They're in style now so I can get away with wearing them back East."
When Bradley returns to Maryland in the summer, he plays in Washington, D.C.'s Urban Coalition League with Dudley. Although big bro' is the pro, Charles supplies the muscle. "I don't think I can really get hurt, but I worry about him," Charles says. "I tell other teams that they can cheap-shot me all they want, but don't mess with Dudley."
At Wyoming, as a tri-captain and self-appointed team leader, Bradley screams instructions to teammates and is free with advice to opponents, too. Given his size, no one is likely to take much offense. "I think my size scares 'em, but the only time I feel mean is when I'm having a bad game," Bradley says. "Then I get upset and want to go out and break the backboard."
But sometimes the backboard doesn't give, as Bradley discovered last Thursday in a 73-51 win over Stanford. Although the Cowboys held a commanding lead, Bradley hadn't played particularly well, scoring only three points in the first half. He tried to atone early in the second half on a breakaway after a steal. Bradley shook the crowd at Memorial Fieldhouse with a thunderous dunk, but almost knocked himself unconscious in the process by banging his head on the bolts that attach the rim to the backboard. He returned briefly near the end of the game, sporting a huge knot over his left eye. "All I remember was going after the ball and then sitting on the bench and asking if we were winning," Bradley said afterward. "I guess I'll have to get off on the second floor instead of jumping all the way to the fourth from now on."
With that, Charles Bradley reached into his locker, put on his glasses and went back into the arena to say "Hi" to his little friends.