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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Fine-tuned: Bragg provides Late Night highlight

Kansas freshman forward Carlton Bragg performs before the fieldhouse crowd during Late Night in the Phog, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas freshman forward Carlton Bragg performs before the fieldhouse crowd during Late Night in the Phog, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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That wasn’t Billy Joel, Elton John or Stevie Wonder dressed in black coat, white shirt, jeans and black shoes and sitting in front of a black grand piano under a spotlight at center court of Allen Fieldhouse on Friday night.

No, on this occasion, the Late Night in the Phog performing artist was 6-foot-9 freshman basketball forward Carlton Bragg, who played a medley of songs for 15,500 adoring fans who actually swayed and sang along with the Bill Withers number, “Lean on Me.”

“I would say John Legend,” Bragg said with a smile, asked who his music most resembles.

“Ha ha ... I can’t play as good as him. I’m learning,” added Bragg, who credited a friend on campus named “Chance” for teaching him his assortment of tunes.

“I don’t sing. If I could sing, that would have been really amazing,” added the Cleveland native, who insisted he was “nervous, really nervous.”

About 45 minutes after his performance, Bragg calmly hit a 12-foot jump shot and finished a reverse alley-oop dunk off a pass from Devonté Graham in his Crimson team’s 36-31 scrimmage victory over the Blue squad.

“He can’t read music, but he can play by ear, which is a pretty good gift to have,” KU coach Bill Self said. “I told him he should do that (perform at Late Night) when I heard him play over in South Korea (in free time at World University Games). I didn’t know he was that good. He did a nice job. That was a lot of pressure. He has a great disposition. He’s going to be a fan favorite.”

He’s also not going to be at KU four years, Self said, noting the NBA is in Bragg’s future.

“He’s going to be able to go (to pros early). You can’t tell by that. That was awful tonight,” Self said of the sloppy scrimmage which was led by Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor, who had 12 and nine points, respectively. Svi Mykhailiuk had eight. “Carlton can shoot it, pass it. He’s going to be strong. He’s a good athlete, has size, length and great feel. There’s nothing I think that kid won’t be able to do in a couple years here.”

Box score

CRIMSON (36)

Wayne Selden Jr. 2-7 0-0 5, Devonté Graham 1-3 0-0 2, Svi Mykhailiuk 3-5 0-0 8, Jamari Traylor 4-5 0-0 9, Landen Lucas 1-1 0-0 2, Frank Mason III 1-2 0-0 2, Evan Manning 1-1 0-0 2, Cheick Diallo 0-0 0-0 0, Carlton Bragg 2-5 0-1 4, Clay Young 1-2 0-0 2, Hunter Mickelson 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 16-31 1-2 36.

BLUE (31)

Frank Mason III 2-6 1-1 6, Cheick Diallo 1-3 0-0 2, Brannen Greene 1-3 0-0 2, Perry Ellis 5-6 0-0 12, Hunter Mickelson 2-3 0-0 4, Wayne Selden Jr. 0-0 0-0 0, Lagerald Vick 0-0 0-0 0, Devonté Graham 0-1 0-0 0, Tyler Self 1-1 0-0 3, Clay Young 1-1 0-0 2, Landen Lucas 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 13-24 1-1 31.

Three-pointers: Crimson 3-12 (Selden 1-5, Mykhailiuk 2-4, Graham 0-2, Mason 0-1); Blue 4-9 (Ellis 2-2, Mason 1-3, Greene 0-2, Self 1-1, Graham 0-1). Rebounds: Crimson 13 (Lucas 4, Bragg 3, Selden 2, Young, Mickelson, Graham, Team); Blue 14 (Mickelson 5, Greene 4, Mason, Diallo, Vick, Lucas, Team). Assists: Crimson 8 (Selden 4, Graham 2, Mykhailiuk, Lucas); Blue 8 (Mason 4, Mickelson, Vick, Graham, Self). Turnovers: Crimson 3 (Mykhailiuk, Bragg 2); Blue 10 (Vick 3, Diallo 2, Mickelson 2, Greene, Ellis, Self). Blocks: Crimson 0; Blue 2 (Diallo, Mickelson). Steals: Crimson 7 (Graham 3, Selden 2, Bragg 2); Blue 3 (Self 3).

Note: The official Late Night box score provided is inaccurate. Several players were listed playing for both teams and that did not occur. This is the night’s official box score.

The highlight of the night — hoops-wise — might not have come in the 15-minute scrimmage, but when staff member Brennan Bechard hit a halfcourt shot to win $10,000 for Jerrod Martin Castro, a KU sophomore from Topeka. Castro in a promotion had the option of shooting himself or letting anyone in the building shoot from midcourt. Former KU player Bechard came through and swished his second of two official attempts.

Former KU player Darnell Jackson missed a pair of halfcourt shots when trying to win $10,000 for a female contestant. KU coach Self wrote Castro a check from his own bank account on the spot after Bechard and Castro hugged and the Jayhawk players mobbed both in a dogpile on the court.

“I see him shoot them in all the time,” Self said of ex-Jayhawk player Bechard. “He, Tyler (Self) and Evan (Manning) are by far the best halfcourt shooters we have. They have contests after every practice. I guess if you are going to be known for something, I guess making a halfcourt shot after practice is OK to be known for. Brennan ... I’d pick him every time,” Self added, noting, “I was happy for Jerrod. That’s why we did it to hopefully give someone a fun night.”

Earlier, Self caused the fieldhouse to erupt in applause when he told the fans in a speech: “We cut down nets in 2008. We got real close in ’12. We’ve not been back to the Final Four for three years. Guys ... if things fall right, this could be our year. Rock Chalk!”

In the scrimmage, freshman forward Cheick Diallo put down a pair of dunks, including one off a strong drive down the lane.

“He’s strong, athletic, a very good player. He’s going to be special,” Bragg said.

Noted Self: “He didn’t play very well. Cheick has so much to learn, and it’s fine if you screw up. The way he screwed up was just by not playing, trying to do stuff he’s not ready to do. He gets the rebound, he will never be a guy to go coast to coast, at least right now. He knows.”

Bridges honored: A moment of silence was held at 8:07 p.m. for former KU All-America forward Bill Bridges, who died recently following a bout with cancer. A spotlight was directed to Bridges’ jersey banner 32 in the south rafters.

A long row of Kansas recruits sit to watch the Late Night in the Phog festivities, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

A long row of Kansas recruits sit to watch the Late Night in the Phog festivities, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Recruits: Five top senior high school basketball prospects walked through the northwest tunnel and sat behind the home team’s bench approximately 8 p.m.

The blue-chip seniors at Late Night: No. 2-ranked (by Rivals.com) Harry Giles, 6-10, Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Virginia; No. 5 De’Aaron Fox, 6-3, Cypress Lakes High, Katy, Texas; No. 6 Malik Monk, 6-4, Bentonville (Arkansas) High; No. 16 Marques Bolden, 6-10, DeSoto (Texas) High; and No. 34 Schnider Herard, 6-10, Prestonwood Christian Academy, Plano, Texas.

Fox, who has visited LSU and Louisville, will attend next Friday’s Big Blue Madness at Kentucky. According to Zagsblog.com, he has eliminated Arizona and will choose a college shortly after the Kentucky visit.

“That’s the goal, it’s a feel thing for him,” Fox’s coach, Emmanuel Olatunbosun, told Zagsblog.com. “He’s not going to draw it out if he doesn’t have to.”

Top juniors at Late Night: Michael Porter, 6-8, from Tolton Catholic in Columbia, Missouri, who is ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2017; No. 19 Jeremiah Tilmon, 6-10, from East St. Louis High; No. 26-rated Trae Young, 6-1, from Norman (Oklahoma) North, No. 37 Mitchell Ballock, 6-4, from Eudora High; No 73 Chaundee Brown, 6-5, from First Academy in Orlando, Florida and No. 141 Wyatt Wilkes, 6-8, from Winter Park (Florida) High.

Kansas University students jam through the turnstiles as security workers try to settle the crowd shortly after opening the doors for Late Night in the Phog, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas University students jam through the turnstiles as security workers try to settle the crowd shortly after opening the doors for Late Night in the Phog, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Filling it up: The fieldhouse was basically full for Late Night, with just a few seats available in the corners. The doors opened for students at 4:30 p.m.

The students walked briskly through their normal northeast corner entrance. Reporters didn’t notice any incidents, but some students complained on Twitter about being shoved and pushed.

There was some confusion initially as thousands of students sat lower level, east side. They were supposed to sit in the areas they normally sit in at games. After thousands were seated, ushers directed them to a section above the northwest tunnel. At least a couple students were upset on Twitter concerning the switch. The north end zone was reserved seating for current KU student-athletes. Students not on KU teams sat in the south end zone.

The fans watched the Royals game on the video board, erupting in joy after the final out of a series-tying ALDS win over the Astros.

Tidbits: KU football coach David Beaty spoke to the crowd, praising both Self and women’s coach Brandon Schneider. ...

None by Benton Smith

... Former KU forward Markieff Morris of the Phoenix Suns and ESPN’s Jay Bilas spoke via video on the center scoreboard about KU’s tradition and Allen Fieldhouse. ... Self took part in a couple of taped skits, playing Bill Self KU basketball coach vs. Bill Self nerdy graduate assistant at KU. ...

... There was dancing and lip-synching by the KU players, Evan Manning and Hunter Mickelson lip-synching to “Boot Scootin Boogie.”

— See what people were saying about Late Night during our live coverage.

Comments

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 1 month ago

Apparently this was a very good late-night. Too bad it occurred over Fall Break and on a day the Astros were playing. I'm sure that had a drag on attendance.

Bragg in well on the way to being one of my most favorite players of all time. Self has a knack for recruiting elite talent and character. I'm half hoping we can get 2 years from Bragg but always hoping for the best for him.

Any bets that next year Self keeps the half-court shot on the agenda? Should the lucky students decide to pick others in the gym, it's a safe bet Bechard and the new GA (Tyler Self) will be high on their list. Tom Keegan might be another on the list to shoot their half court shot.

Joe Ross 4 years, 1 month ago

Mostly agree with what you say here. One thing though. I wouldnt saddle Coach Self with the burden of recruiting the highest character. While that is CERTAINLY a goal, one has to realize that these kids come to Kansas with their value systems having been developed--for better or worse--for 18 years. We've had our share of errors among our players. Mario Little, Chester Jarrel Giles, the Morris twins, Brandon Rush, and a host of others who have had legal incidents, not to mention the altercation the basketball and football teams got into in 07. Its quite a thing to be tied to the moral choices that others make independently.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 1 month ago

I certainly wouldn't label recruiting Little, the Morris twins or Brandon Rush as being errors. Rush was arrested for failure to appear in court and nonpayment of child support. Sure they've made mistakes but as you stated "their value systems having been developed--for better or worse--for 18 years.". How many athletes are from inner city schools and lack the guidance of two responsible parents? 18 is not the age when moral development has become set in stone.

College is often the first time many of these kids are out from under their parents supervision and they make mistakes. Most of them learn their lesson and move on. Even supposedly good kids make mistakes such as Morningstar. Ben McLemore was arrested, Jamari Traylor has been arrested and Sherron Collins found himself accused of sexual misconduct and although not arrested lost in a civil case. Elijah Johnson was arrested for neglecting to pay parking tickets. Thomas Robinson was arrested and charged with battery after punching two bouncers at The Cave.

I hesitate to label these incidents as moral choices. Mistakes happen and these cases only receive publicity because they are student athletes. I remember my time at Kansas and making a few bad decisions that fortunately never received the attention of the authorities. If they had, there is a good chance that my career in the Coast Guard might never have happened.

Joe Ross 4 years, 1 month ago

a. I wouldnt label their recruitment as errors either. perhaps your mentioning that as a comment toward what you feel I might think. But I dont.

b. no age is an age where moral development is set in stone. Yet it is true, nevertheless, that at 18 years, it is where it is for some of these young men and that is problematic in some cases.

c. every incident you mentioned presented a moral choice. To say "mistakes happen" is an acknowledgment of this very fact!

Joe Joseph 4 years, 1 month ago

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think AFH is typically at max-capacity during Late Night.

Fall break had little to do with it. Late Night - being a free event - has always been much more of an opportunity for the community and surrounding areas than for the students. I haven't been in several years, but AFH never seemed like it was packed full with students when I have attended in the past. I also recall the corners being a bit bare...

Relax. Late Night isn't going anywhere. I'm not so sure it's the make-or-break recruiting piece that some make it out to be either. Think about it... Compare Late Night to a high-profile game, or any conference game for that matter, and it just doesn't compare. The crowd gets bored and tired of sitting on its @$$ for hours and hours during Late Night. Show a recruit a real game. Kansas State, Kentucky, Texas, Iowa State, etc. If the environment in and around AFH doesn't sell him then and there, Late Night certainly won't.

Joe Ross 4 years, 1 month ago

This Late Night was better than most, and there were some updates.

Half-court shot. Swish! Highlight of the night. Could have very easily been a ho-hum kind of activity, but Bechard's finding of the bottom of the net made the crowd erupt! A+

The video has kept some elements of past runnings, but new footage appeared. Also, there was some emphasis on former players who are now in the NBA. Showed individual players' playing days at Kansas along with an NBA highlight for each. The video HAD to play well with recruits. A+

The players entered individually through smoke and a white curtain that operated like a garage door. The curtain doubled as a screen that had their name and photo, which was simultaneously shown on the video board. They should do this every year. A+

Royals game. Dumb luck had it that after entering, the fans were treated to a Royals playoff game in progress that ended with a win. Helped the wait time not seem long at all. A

Darnell Jackson's cameo appearance. A. Enough said.

Cheerleading with tumblers and dance squad. A real highlight for the night. Performed a routine to some up-tempo songs. Big throws, great tumbling passes. A-

Coach Self's video (aka, "Dont be like this Coach Self) was actually funny this year. It's hit and miss with the writers of the video skits, but this one was actually decent. B

Scrimmage. Some highlight-worthy plays. This is what the crowd really comes for. B

Carlton Bragg's Piano Concert. A bit repetitive on some refrains, but we understand he's not a concert pianist and he did actually play some current strains from modern popular music. B-.

Introduction of Coach Schneider. What a poor "hashtag"-themed video introduction to a new era in women's basketball. Cringe-worthy. Whoever writes these skits... D

Players Dancing. I still dont understand why you feature dancing for those on the team who cant dance. At least it was shorter this year, which spared some misery. D

Late Night Lights. The crowd was invited to use their cell phones to create a light show in the dark. It would have absolutely worked had more of the audience participated. Maybe only 200-300 phones. I used mine, but the overall effect was diminished because of poor crowd involvement. This one is on us! D-

Lip Syncing. It didnt work. F

OVERALL LATENIGHT EXPERIENCE- B. A few tweaks here and there and the show would have been perfect. A job very well done this year. The bar is now set for future Late Nights in the Phog.

KJ Quartermaine 4 years, 1 month ago

Dear Coach Self and organizers of Late Night,

Please cease with wasting our time with these whack dance routines you try put out there every single year. They are really bad. They are a total embarrassment. I've been to three or four Late Night's, and the only reason I went was because of the scrimmage. That is the only reason. But you have to wait and wait, through ridiculously bad dance routine after ridiculously bad dance routine. And it's not just the student-atheletes that are really bad trying to perform these routines, the accompanying music is almost always just as bad. Get more creative. Yeah, I really want to wait in a three hour line to watch garbage dance routines, with a PA system turned up louder than KISS concert.

On another note, Bragg playing piano was awesome. I will happily take more of that. Bragg improved Late Night. Dance routines on the other hand, per usual basically ruin the experience

Michael Leiker 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm guessing the dance routines are more for the junior high girl w/crushes on the players contingent than it is grown men (assuming)...maybe just grin and bear it if you want to see the scrimmage

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