Journal-News On The Line: Extra Work Leads To Bishop's Big Break at Judson

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In the 2017-2018 season, Brady Bishop played in just nine varsity games and scored eight points for the Litchfield High School boys basketball game. Far from eye popping numbers by any standard.

Fast-forward two years and Bishop is one of the top shooters in the area and is on his way to Judson University in Elgin next fall, where he will continue his academic and athletic pursuits.

Bishop exploded onto the scene in his junior year as Litchfield’s number two scorer behind senior Sam Painter, who is now playing for Illinois Wesleyan.

The sharp shooting guard upped his average to 10.2 points per game, hitting 48-of-142 three-pointers to become one of the area’s top shooters. Bishop would solidify that status later in the year as he advanced to the IHSA State Finals in the Country Financial Three-Point Showdown.

“After my sophomore year I worked very hard and I wanted to get better so I could play a lot more,” Bishop explained. “I went to a lot of showcases. I did a bunch of training with Anthony Smith (Metro-East Lutheran head coach and father of Mizzou’s Mark Smith). I just wanted to get a lot better than my sophomore year and be a top notch player with Sam.”

Bishop was poised for another breakout year in 2020, but injuries kept him out of all but 13 games. Despite some rust from the long layoff, Bishop showed that he was still one of the best in the area, averaging 10.8 points per game with 26 threes in 72 attempts.

Despite the injury in his final season at LHS, Bishop was still on Judson’s radar.

“My junior year, I emailed a bunch of coaches and told them that basketball was my main sport so I could get an idea of what coaches would respond and who would be interested,” Bishop said regarding how he became connected with Judson University. “After a basketball game, their assistant coach called me and asked me to send them some film. He stayed in touch with me all of my junior year. I went on a college visit and met the head coach and saw the campus. My senior year I broke my ankle, but they stayed in contact with me. They didn’t give up on me.”

The Eagles, a member of the NAIA and National Christian College Athletic Association, compete in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference with teams like Holy Cross, St. Francis and Olivet Nazarene, last year’s conference champion in men’s basketball. In 2019-2020, they went 7-23 overall, with six wins coming in conference play.

Bishop’s athleticism will help him on the court at Judson, but his competitive drive is what could help him stand out. That drive was on full display this year during cross country, where he earned all-conference honors by finishing sixth at the South Central Conference meet, despite it being his first and only year on the team.

“I did all of that to get in shape for basketball, but the other day I just got up and I was like, ‘I’m going to go run four miles.’ So I ran four miles,” Bishop said with a laugh. “I always enjoyed running, just for fun, but when you have the competition, it’s really fun. It does suck, because you’re in pain, but it’s still fun.”

Bishop credits Litchfield cross country coach Jeremy Palmer for help with that drive.

“He gives me motivation and everything. He tells me that he believes in me and I should strive to do great things. I appreciate when he does that,” Bishop said.

He also showed his appreciation for Head Boys Basketball Coach Drew Logan, who has fostered Bishop’s growth over the last four years, and his family, including his parents Kyle and Nikki, and brothers Alex and Clayton. Older brother Alex also continued his athletic career at the next level, as a golfer for Purdue Northwest in Hammond, IN.

“My college is like an hour away from his college, so we won’t be far from each other,” Bishop said.

Bishop credited those who helped salvage his senior season by helping him recover from his broken ankle as well.

“I wanted to thank Mr. Novy, our athletic trainer, for working with me and getting me back quicker,” Bishop said. “And everyone at AthletiCare  who helped me with rehab.”

Hopefully Bishop paid close attention to that process as he hopes to pursue a career in athletic training at Judson. But that is still four years away and for now, Bishop is focused on the same thing that got him to Judson in the first place - putting in the work to be the best basketball player  he can be.

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