RICHMOND, Va. – During the preseason, Head Coach Shaka Smart of the Virginia Commonwealth University men's basketball team could not stop sing the praises of junior Bradford Burgess and how well he was playing in practice.
Three games into the 2010-11 season and it's evident why Smart was so excited about Burgess and Monday, the rest of the Colonial Athletic Association found out when the Midlothian, Va. native was named CAA Co-Player of the Week.
"Brad has a special ability to play just about anywhere we need him to," Smart said. "He can hit from the outside or play down low and that's what can make him a match-up nightmare for our opposition."
This past week, the junior helped the Rams capture two wins at the East Regional of the 2010 Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off and a berth into the Final Four of the tournament, hosted at Madison Square Garden.
In VCU's 67-54 victory of Winthrop in the first round, Burgess helped lead a stifling defensive effort that held the Eagles to just 35.6% from the field, while also chipping in 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting, with three rebounds, three blocks and two assists.
The big day came on Tuesday when Burgess exploded for 21 first-half points and ended with a game-high 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting. In addition to his scoring, he grabbed eight rebounds and dished out two assists en route to the Rams' 90-69 throttling of ACC foe Wake Forest.
"As soon as I got the first shot off, I knew it was going to be one of those days for me," Burgess said after the win against Wake. "I felt really good and I'm just glad the shots were falling and we were able to get the win."
His honor comes just one week after teammate Joey Rodriguez earned the award for dishing out a school-record 17 assists in the season-opener against UNC Greensboro.
Burgess and his teammates will head to New York City for Thanksgiving and a date with 23rd-ranked Tennessee on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.