Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bragging rights: Freshman forward satisfied with decision

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) fights for a rebound with Oklahoma State guard Leyton Hammonds (23) during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) fights for a rebound with Oklahoma State guard Leyton Hammonds (23) during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.


Carlton Bragg Jr. heard from a few Kentucky fans on Twitter last year after stumbling over his words a bit when announcing his college choice.

“(Some said) I should have gone there and it was a mistake. Some said, ‘everybody makes mistakes. Just learn from it,’’’ Bragg, Kansas University’s 6-foot-9 freshman forward from Cleveland reflected on Thursday.

On Jan. 8, 2015, in a ceremony in his Villa Angela St. Joseph High gym, Bragg placed a KU hat on his head and declared, “Next year I’ll be playing at the University of Kentucky.” He immediately covered his face with his hands and quickly corrected, “Kansas. I’m sorry.”

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No harm. No foul. In fact, at the end of a news conference, Bragg was given a chance to repeat the start of his signing ceremony.

“Next year I’ll be playing college basketball for the University of Kansas,” he said, smiling, the proceedings recorded for posterity.

Currently Bragg, who also had Illinois as one of his three finalists, prepares to actually play against Kentucky in a 6 p.m., tip, Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

“It was close, very close,” he said of his decision to pick KU over UK. “I think it (UK) was very good. It just wasn’t a great fit for me.”

Both teams enter with 16-4 records.

“Coming out of conference, having this big game, the two winningest programs (in college hoops) going head-to head. This is what the college game is all about,” Bragg said.

“Coach (Bill Self) says it’s just another game on the schedule. It can’t hurt us. All it can do is help us going (back) into conference play and actually going into the (NCAA) tournament. It’s actually a big game for us.”

Bragg realizes Kentucky has great athleticism and the ability to block shots.

“They are great with it, pretty good with the blocking (116 to KU’s 81), but I don’t think it’ll stop us,” Bragg said.

Bragg — he averages 4.6 points and 2.8 boards in 10.6 minutes per contest — said he’s satisfied with the way things have gone this season.

“I’m just playing my role, seeing coach’s vision. He knows more than me,” Bragg said. “I’m just being patient, waiting my turn. When he plays me he plays me.”

He’s learned some things while watching.

“When Hunter (Mickelson) was starting, Landen ... seeing what they do from the starting tipoff, going hard, boxing out, the little things. That’s what I focus on,” Bragg said.

Mickelson hurts ankle: KU senior forward Mickelson is questionable for Saturday’s game.

“Hunter is hurt right now. He got a high ankle sprain yesterday out there (at practice), and was having a great day, and so we don’t even know his availability moving forward,” Self said. “He’ll be a day-to-day guy maybe for the next week or so. We don’t know yet. A lot depends on how he reacts to treatment.”

Asked about Mickelson’s declining playing time (two minutes in last three games), Self said: “It’s not so much about going with experience as it is just going with guys that in that particular moment or that situation it’s best for the other four guys to play with, and a lot of times that lends itself to experience.”

The rules: There will be a halftime ceremony involving Dr. James Naismith’s original rules of basketball Saturday. KU grad David Booth, who purchased the rules at auction for $4.3 million, will formally present the rules to KU officials. Naismith’s grandson, Jim, will attend.

Asked about ESPN’s GameDay being in town, Self added: “I just don’t know how you could bring in anything and make it bigger, like we’re doing something with the original rules on Saturday, which is a big deal, but trust me, that (GameDay) isn’t going to get our guys more jacked...”

KU is currently constructing the 32,000-square foot DeBruce Center to house the rules.


Austin Lopez 5 years, 2 months ago

I hope Bill Self throws some mins Carlton Braggs way......

Ashwin Rao 5 years, 2 months ago

Listening to him, and seeing him manipulate the team structure, I get the feeling that Coach is also trying to figure out how this year's team members will be able to contribute the best. I am glad that he is able to move away from the styles that he is most comfortable with, something that he has not done in the past. This is a transition period for him, resulting in losses, but I have a feeling that he will have the team ready for the post season this year. I do hope that in all this, he does give Cheick & Carlton adequate experience, because they are the ones that will factor the most during post season, after our usual 4 of Perry, Frank, Wayne & Devonte'.

Barry Weiss 5 years, 2 months ago

I noticed that Bragg mentioned Mickelson as the guy he watched, not Lucas. Glad he has a good attitude with his lack of playing time. We are going to need him and Diallo before this is all over.

RJ King 5 years, 2 months ago

Actually, he mentioned both of them. He was referencing watching whomever started, and how they played from the opening tip.

Robert Brock 5 years, 2 months ago

Bragg is dynamite in the high post. His passing and shooting in that spot is outstanding. What worries me is what happens in the low block; UK has length to bother Perry or Lucas.

Jeremy Wilhelm 5 years, 2 months ago

It's not a fair extrapolation because Bragg would be facing tougher talent more often if he played more minutes, but his current numbers at 10.6 minutes a game would be something like 15 points and 9 boards a game if he averaged 35 minutes. That's pretty darn good.

Max Ledom 5 years, 2 months ago

I feel like "Bragging Rights" is a weird headline for a kid who gets zero minutes, hasn't been that good, and is on a team that has lost 3 out of 6 of their last games.

Kristen Downing 5 years, 2 months ago

I hope Self shows the guys which team ESPN is picking to win the game on their website. They need some motivation.

Rob Bedford III 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm predicting Kentucky wins in AFH 75-68

Brett McCabe 5 years, 2 months ago

What, if anything, gets them out of this funk? National TV game? Kentucky? Is it possible that a commitment from a 16-year-old might change the mojo?

Nothing this team has done in the last couple of weeks suggests that they are tough enough to win this game, so your prediction is probably spot on.

Brett McCabe 5 years, 2 months ago

We outscore them 55-0 in the sixth overtime.

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