City College men’s basketball players awarded all-state honors, reflect on season

Crawford and Bradley receive awards after Knights’ state championship quarterfinal exit
KJay Bradley (0) cuts down the net after celebrating City College’s win over Allan Handcock, clinching the school’s first Elite 8 appearance since 2018 at Harry West Gym, March 9, 2024. Photo by Danny Straus/City Times Media
KJay Bradley (0) cuts down the net after celebrating City College’s win over Allan Handcock, clinching the school’s first Elite 8 appearance since 2018 at Harry West Gym, March 9, 2024. Photo by Danny Straus/City Times Media

When your goal was to win a state championship, as San Diego City College men’s basketball guard KJay Bradley’s was, even losing in the Elite Eight round can be tough.

“It was hard to take in,” Bradley said. “I’m still kind of mad, but you know, you live and you learn.”

On the same weekend that the Knight’s season ended, Bradley and his teammate, forward Alex Crawford, were named to the California Community College Men’s Basketball Coaches Association 2024 All-State Team representing the southern region.

Two Knights have not received all-state recognition in the same season since the 2015-16 season, according to Knights athletics.

While still smarting from his team’s loss and the end of the season, Bradley, who led his team to a Pacific Coast Athletic Conference title while being named PCAC Most Valuable Player, acknowledged the accomplishments of the Knights and their head coach Mitch Charlens.

“My biggest goal was to win state,” Bradley said. “But winning conference was pretty big for the team and Mitch. After all we’ve been through, I feel like we deserved it.”

Crawford, who became a Knight this season after a year away from basketball, put the all-state recognition in context of his time at City College.

“I was eager to get on the court and play,” Crawford said. “I knew good things would happen if I just played hard and bought into the program and the people around me.”

Charlens reflected on his team’s reaction to their Elite Eight loss.

“They were crushed,” Charlens said. “Not because we felt like there wasn’t a possibility of losing but they knew we didn’t play our best that night.

“You get to that level and any of those teams were good enough to win it all.”

Bradley and Crawford are both looking forward to finishing their schooling at City College this spring with associate degrees in business. They are planning on playing basketball at the next level, although neither has made a decision where.

Bradley’s “main three” schools are Southern Utah, the University of San Diego, and the University of California Santa Barbara. His time in Coach Charlens’ program gives him a roadmap for what he wants next.

“The main thing I’m looking for is somewhere like San Diego City College,” Bradley said, “with a good coaching staff that cares, that wants to see you win, but win or lose, they are still riding with you.”

Crawford has received offers from Cal Baptist, Seattle University, and Southern Utah while continuing to talk to other schools as well. 

“I’m talking it over with my family, my parents,” Crawford said. “I’m going to find the best place for me, that’s going to make me grow as a better player and what I feel is the best fit for me.”

The process of finishing a season and moving on is something that Charlens, after over 17 years of coaching, knows well. 

“It’s sad,” Charlens said. “You go through a grieving process, especially with a group as special as this one, not just the talent, but the type of kids that each one of these guys is, just so fun to be around every day.

“Then you try to build another one that can become a family like this one did.”

Those family ties that Charlens’ program fosters are appreciated by Crawford.

“I’m grateful that I chose to go here,” Crawford said, “because of the relationships and the bonds that I made with all the players and coaches and even the alumni and all the fans. It was just an amazing atmosphere.”

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