Sophomores play on NACEL tour

[email protected]

For the last three years, basketball coach Bill Van Gundy has worked with Marquette basketball players through Nacel International, an organization that works with international student exchange programs in over 50 countries.

Two years ago he coached former Marquette players Dwyane Wade and John Harris. Last year, it was Travis Diener and Terry Sanders. This summer, sophomore guard Karon Bradley and sophomore center Chris Grimm, joined the list of players as they toured Italy for the Nacel All-Star basketball team.

“I’d take any kid from Marquette,” Van Gundy said. “Their attitude is so good, and their work ethic … I love to have them.”

During their 12 days in Italy, Bradley and Grimm played in six games and had 10 practices with Van Gundy, whose son, Jeff Van Gundy, coaches the Houston Rockets. Van Gundy said both players did well.

“I have quite a bit of confidence in the both of them,” Van Gundy said. “They both can make a contribution to the team.”

Bradley, who came off the bench last season as a point guard, helped the Golden Eagles get to the Final Four in New Orleans with his tight defense and ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 8.6 minutes and 1.7 points per game while also shooting 44 percent from the three-point range. In Italy, he averaged 14.2 points, 1.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He shot 88.9 percent from the free throw line and 39.3 percent from beyond the arc.

“He did not shoot the ball as well as I expected him to, but if he improves his decision making and ball handling, he can make a contribution (to the team),” Van Gundy said.

Grimm, who also saw time off the bench last season, averaged 5.1 minutes, 0.6 rebounds and 0.9 points per game. Van Gundy said he was very pleased with Grimm’s ability as a “big man.”

“He played very well,” Van Gundy said. “(Grimm) was the most pleasant surprise to me of the group we took. I think he’ll be a pleasant surprise for the Marquette fans next year. He’s a solid player who works very hard. He did well against the older and more experienced players.”

During his action in Italy, Grimm averaged 9.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game and shot 68.6 percent from the field, the highest on the team.

Players from other colleges such as Oklahoma, Villanova, Princeton, and Wisconsin Green Bay made the team. Nigel Dickson, who plays for former Marquette Assistant Coach Darin Horn at Western Kentucky, also made the team.