Former Hawks graduate assistant earning his keep with Wizards

Jimmy Bradshaw, formerly the graduate manager of Lehigh's men's basketball team was recently hired by the Washington Wizards as their Video Coordinating Intern. (Courtesy Lehigh Athletics)

Jimmy Bradshaw, formerly the graduate manager of Lehigh’s men’s basketball team was recently hired by the Washington Wizards as their Video Coordinating Intern. (Courtesy Lehigh Athletics)

It was well past midnight when Lehigh’s men’s basketball graduate assistant Jimmy Bradshaw sat down to his work. The Mountain Hawks had just upset DePaul University, 86-74, in Chicago last season, as then-sophomore center Tim Kempton and former guard Cole Renninger returned to the hotel after a late-night celebratory food run. It was there on the couch of the hotel’s lobby did they see first-hand the behind-the-scenes work Bradshaw has made a career out of.

“We went out trying to find some food and by this time it’s around 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock in the morning and we came back to Jimmy on the freakin’ couch trying to connect to the Wi-Fi to break down game film of DePaul and of our next opponents,” Kempton said. “His eyes were completely bloodshot.”

Bradshaw’s primary responsibility in Bethlehem was that of cutting and analyzing game film — a thankless job that lacked the deserving spotlight. Despite doing the majority of his work in the waning hours of the night, Bradshaw’s efforts weren’t lost on the team’s star.

“Most people don’t know how much time he put in to make our lives easier as players and how much he contributed to our program,” Kempton said.

One organization that did take notice of Bradshaw’s skill set was the NBA’s Washington Wizards, who hired Bradshaw as their newest video coordinating intern this past September.

The fundamentals of Bradshaw’s job with Lehigh are similar to that of working within basketball’s highest level: long hours, minimal praise and heavy responsibility. For the Springfield, Virginia, native who is now working for his childhood favorite team, Bradshaw is taking in all that a video coordinator has to gain behind the scenes.

“I can see why video coordinators are so highly coveted and looked upon because the hours that you put in are incredible,” Bradshaw said. “The video coordinators are by far the hardest working individuals on the coaching staff. They arrive two to three hours before the coaching staff, the last ones to leave at night and then you’re watching games throughout the night to prepare for the coaches meetings in the morning.”

For Bradshaw, his role within the game of basketball has fluctuated throughout his time involved with the sport. His keen eye for the game’s X’s and O’s has remained consistent, however.

A four-year player at Division III Roanoke College, Bradshaw’s focus toward analytics and strategy led him to Lehigh as a graduate student and assistant. It was his attention to detail that has afforded him his seamless transition from the Patriot League to the NBA.

“All of the actions we ran at Lehigh are similar to the ones we run with the Wizards, but there a lot more of them and the playbook is a little more complex,” Bradshaw said. “But Lehigh really helped me out as I was able to hit the ground running.”

Bradshaw is an integral part of a three-man team within Washington’s extended coaching staff. During the game, he reports to the head coordinator who is logging the game. Then, using his extensive knowledge of basketball, Bradshaw cuts anywhere from 150-200 clips of offensive and defensive sets for the Wizards to analyze during halftime.

Bradshaw’s work is not over at the sound of the final buzzer, however, as he quickly retreats home and gets ready for a full slate of NBA games that night. Scouting the Wizard’s next opponent’s tendencies, Bradshaw cuts game film well into the night in preparation for the coach’s meetings the following day. The priority of cutting tape over much needed sleep is a tendency Bradshaw adopted during his time at Lehigh, a part of a job that he doesn’t take lightly.

“Being a video coordinator allows you to grasp the X’s and O’s and the technical side of basketball so well,” Bradshaw said. “It is a thankless job in every sense of the word. You definitely put the most hours in and stuff, and you don’t get the credit from when you succeed and all eyes are on you when you make the littlest mistake.”

From player to a skills camp coach at Lehigh’s youth summer programs to a video coordinator at the sport’s most competitive league, Bradshaw’s career goals are aligned with the game he loves. Pursuing a career either as a coach or a general manager, Bradshaw’s idols are the one’s who were rewarded for their thankless sweat they put into their teams.

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra slaved over game film in the video room of the Heat’s back office before he led the team to two NBA championships in 2012 and 2013.

Before Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel took the reigns of the East in the 2014 NBA All-Star game, he too paid his dues in the Boston Celtics’ video room.

Former Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown started his path as an unpaid intern in the Denver Nuggets’ video and scouting department.

These are people Bradshaw look up to and serve as a constant reminder that hard work can pay off.

“Spoelstra, Vogel, Mike Brown — you feel like what those teams run are some of the best stuff that’s run in the NBA because they put time in their video,” Bradshaw said.

Despite only spending two years on campus at Lehigh, brown and white ran deep within Bradshaw. That’s why March 8 will mark a special day in Lehigh basketball history when Bradshaw’s Wizards’ will travel to Portland for a matchup with C.J. McCollum’s, ’13, Portland Trail Blazers. Bradshaw has had the inter-conference game on his calendar since the NBA schedule was released, as the game will showcase two mid-major talents who worked to take their skills to the highest level of the game.

“Just to see two people come out of Lehigh and now working with NBA teams, of course (McCollum) is playing with one, I think that just goes to show you that you can make it out of a small schools just how you can make it out of a big school with hard work,” Bradshaw said.

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