Wardle grants release to three Braves

Three men’s basketball players will take their leave from the Hilltop, according to Bradley athletics.

Freshmen Scottie James, Joel Okafor and Davante Cooper will all be playing for different schools next year, as they were granted their releases by head coach Brian Wardle on Friday.

“I want to thank Davante, Scottie and Joel for all of their efforts representing Bradley Basketball, and we will do all that we can to help them continue their careers as student-athletes,” Wardle said in a statement. “They did a good job of helping us establish our standards and build our culture, and we are grateful.”

The release did not say why the three players decided to transfer.

After the trio’s departure, the graduation of seniors Ka’Darryl Bell and Mike Shaw and with the assumption that Bradley’s two verbal commitments sign, there will be two scholarship spots left for Wardle to recruit this offseason.

Bradley has already received two national letters of intent last fall from the 6-11 center from Sudan Koch Bar and Metamora high school guard Nate Kennell.

Although there hasn’t been any official word on the matter, there has been speculation that Wardle may recruit the junior college route, which would give next year’s team a better balance of classes.

However, the Braves do return their top six leading scorers from last season. The last time the Braves returned their top six scoring players from the previous year was 2005-2006, when Bradley went to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.