MAPLE PARK – Year by year, Kaneland senior Emma Bradford started moving away from the basket.
When the four-year varsity player was younger, she was one of the tallest girls on the court. Then, Bradford stopped growing and kids around her sprouted up, but she developed her low-post skills so much that she still played down low as a freshman.
“We started moving her little by little,” Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said. “As a freshman, she played the 4 (position). Towards the end of her freshman year, we played her at 3. Then as a sophomore, she played the 4 and 3. As a junior, she’s played the 4, 3 and the 2.”
This season, Bradford might even bring the ball up the floor every so often, and she mostly will play as a guard who slashes to the basket.
That experience on the low block has helped Bradford develop into an all-around player as her perimeter game has improved over the years.
“I know how the posts feel and when they have the ball, and when they want me to pass it to them,” she said. “It really helped me on offense and on defense. It taught me to body up and push the bigger girls, but once I got to high school I had to move my feet.”
Her ability to play different positions will help the Knights shift into different styles of play throughout the season, when they’ll try to best last season’s run to the sectional championship game.
Bradford is a unique player on the Kaneland roster who can get to the basket and draw fouls. That ability will be crucial as the Knights try to dethrone defending Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference East champion DeKalb.
“I don’t really feel like I have a distinct position,” Bradford said. “I know that I have to be a guard, but I like to take it down in the post and use my moves down there. Sometimes, I don’t know what to do until I get there, and I see an open spot and I take it.”