Aaron Bradshaw Brings “Goofy” Personality, Sky-High Potential to Ohio State

By Andy Anders on July 10, 2024 at 8:35 am
Aaron Bradshaw

There’s a row of small, often unnoticed light fixtures that dangle from the ceiling in Ohio State basketball’s interview room.

Standing 7-foot-1, Aaron Bradshaw waltzed onto the room’s flat black platform before a gray backdrop of Ohio State logos. He wore a wide, bright smile that flashed silver braces. Before sitting down, he looked back at the lights.

“Y’all need to clean these,” he remarked to the media contingent gathered there, drawing a laugh.

Bradshaw is one of the Buckeyes’ prized transfer portal acquisitions, a five-star prospect at center who spent his freshman year at Kentucky. In addition to great potential and a game that Jake Diebler says will flash a lot of versatility in 2024-25, Bradshaw brings a lighthearted personality to Columbus.

“(I’m) just trying to show people it's okay to be different,” Bradshaw said. “It's okay to smile. It's okay to do stuff people don't really like doing that much anymore. You don’t see too many people just walking around smiling. They think it’s like, ‘Oh, he’s just too happy.’ It’s dumb. It’s all right to be goofy. It’s all right to be funny. It’s all right to have fun.”

The No. 1 center and No. 4 prospect overall in the 247Sports composite rankings for the class of 2023, Bradshaw played 26 games with the Wildcats last year, starting 10. He played just 13.7 minutes per contest, however.

Still, in that time he managed 4.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game. That’s 14.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per 40 minutes. He scored double-figure points seven times.

“How to stay poised,” Bradshaw said of what he learned during his time at Kentucky. “I learned a lot of patience there. That shaped me into the person I am now, basically.”

Following the 2023-24 season, Bradshaw entered the transfer portal. It wasn’t just his recruiting pedigree that made him a draw for Diebler and company. 

He showed promise as a scorer, rebounder and shot blocker in his opportunities at Kentucky. Diebler feels there’s some untapped versatility in his game, too. Ohio State might look to Bradshaw as a perimeter option and someone who can run the floor or even distribute the basketball.

“I think his ability to do things at his size has been great,” Diebler said. “And I would say we're pushing him to maybe do some things he's not used to doing on the court. But he's got the ability to do it, and I think a lot of it is just getting reps and experience. He can handle it. He can pass it. And to be able to do it at his size is really impressive.”

On April 15, Bradshaw became the first of two five-star frontcourt additions for the Buckeyes in the portal, the other being Duke power forward Sean Stewart. Bradshaw and Stewart previously played together at the McDonald’s All-American Game in 2023. 

“I find it crazy that we're teammates now,” Bradshaw said. “When we were on McDonald’s, we never thought (we’d play together). He was going to Duke, I was going to Kentucky. But I’m happy that he’s my teammate now because he’s a hard worker just like the rest of the guys. And he's, like, one of those killers. So I’m just glad to be on the same court as him.”

In the end, the environment within Diebler’s program won Bradshaw over.

“It was mainly a family thing with me,” Bradshaw said. “Coach Diebler has built a family, basically, around this program in the short time he’s been here. Him doing that and showing that he cares about his players, that's all I can really ask of a coach. So where else would I want to go?”

“Coach Diebler has built a family, basically, around this program in the short time he’s been here. ... That's all I can really ask of a coach. So where else would I want to go?”– Aaron Bradshaw on why he chose Ohio State

Off the court, one of Bradshaw’s favorite pastimes is fishing. Picturing the 85-inch-tall hooper reeling in tiny fish is quite the visual.

“I catch all the little ones,” Bradshaw said.

There’s a confidence that comes with owning who you are, and Bradshaw is proud of his fun-loving character, of being “goofy.” He still puts in hard work honing his craft and uses his upbeat persona to uplift others.

“It gives me a lot of energy,” Bradshaw said. “If I see my teammates do something good or I see coach hyped on the sideline, I'll be turnt up.”

In terms of expansions to his game, the top one mentioned by Diebler for Bradshaw is outside shooting. He attempted only 14 triples with the Wildcats last season, making four.

“I don't think it's necessarily not in his comfort zone, I just think he lacks the experience at the college level,” Diebler said. “He didn't get to do that a ton last year. We want him to do that, it creates space for us. It creates space for driving lanes for guys. It'll be harder for teams to guard us if he can consistently do that.”

Bradshaw also dished out just seven assists with Kentucky. While he won’t be bringing the ball up the floor or running the offense, Diebler wants Bradshaw to have the ability to handle the ball, distribute or dribble-drive in key situations.

“With the way we're going to play, our forwards are going to have the ball in their hands in the middle third at times and have to make decisions,” Diebler said. “It's not just always running to a ball screen. So getting experience in that and his ability to handle the ball there and drive it is going to be great for us.”

With any luck, Bradshaw will be wearing plenty of smiles for Ohio State in 2024-25.

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