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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Bragg making fashion statement

KU sophomore Carlton Bragg Jr. goes to the hoop during Bill Self's basketball camp Tuesday, June 14, 2016.

KU sophomore Carlton Bragg Jr. goes to the hoop during Bill Self's basketball camp Tuesday, June 14, 2016.

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Carlton Bragg Jr., remembers the day he made his own fashion statement on the basketball court, discarding long, saggy shorts for the kind basketball players wore before Michael Jordan dropped the seam in the 1980s.

“It was my sophomore year, AAU season. I was in the bathroom and everybody took their shorts (from team personnel). There was a small pair of shorts. I had to put them on. I scored 44 or 45 (points), something like that. I kept ’em after that,” related Bragg, KU’s 6-foot-10, 235-pound sophomore power forward from Cleveland.

Bragg never was comfortable wearing shorts three or four inches below the knee.

“It’s more comfortable. I sweat so much it’s so heavy under my legs,” Bragg said. “This feels comfortable to me.”

He thinks he can talk teammates Devonté Graham and Mitch Lightfoot to help him start a new trend of shorter shorts.

“I’m trying to get it back. I’ll give it one more month. It’s coming back,” Bragg said with a smile after taking part in drills for hundreds of Bill Self basketball campers Tuesday in Horejsi Center. “They (teammates) say it’s not their style. I’m going to get a couple people with me for sure.”

Bragg said the key to looking sharp with shorter shorts is to wear compression tights, as well.

“You’ve got to, got to. You don’t want to look a little suspect,” Bragg said, smiling.

The player who averaged 3.8 points and 2.5 boards a game his freshman season is already looking a bit bulkier than a year ago.

"I’m getting stronger, going with Hudy (Andrea, strength coach) every day, every morning just getting my body ready. I’ve put on six, seven pounds of muscle so far,” Bragg said. “I’m building more. I’ll probably put on another 10 hopefully. It’s about eating right, getting challenged each and every day.”

He said he was pushed around on the block his freshman campaign.

“Coming from high school to college … it’s a big difference,” Bragg said. “Playing fast. The veterans had a lot of experience over us. They knew what to do. We were just out there learning. It was hard but fun at the same time.”

Bragg’s also been working on his skill set this June.

“Getting back in shape, working on my jumper, pull-ups,” he said. “Ballhandling and the mindset to attack, attack. It (his game) is going to be a big surprise for everybody this year, trust me.”

Bragg said he’s been amazed at the play of freshman big Udoka Azubuike, who stands 7-foot, 270.

“He’s a big fella. I think he’s 7-feet, 7-1,” Bragg said. “Wait until he starts getting angles and knowing the experience like we do. He’s going to be tough, tough. When he gets the ball he really can score. It doesn’t matter. He’s going to dunk it. I didn’t know he could run the floor like that. He can run for a big fella.”

Of frosh forward Lightfoot, a 6-8, 210-pounder, Bragg said: “I’ve taken Mitch under my wing, leading him by example. I love his game. His personality is great. He reminds me of myself.”

And for freshman guard Josh Jackson, Bragg said: “He’s my roommate. He likes to joke around. He’s feeling more comfortable with us.”

Bragg was in an especially good mood on Tuesday, a day after his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers stunned Golden State in the Bay Area to cut the deficit to three games to two in the NBA Finals with Game 6 on Thursday in Cleveland.

“I’m loving it,” Bragg said. “Good win yesterday. I think we’re going to come out and win. I knew they had that mindset, the killer instinct and LeBron (James) with his leadership carried the team. They’ve just got to buckle down on defense, stop (Stephen) Curry and Klay (Thompson), stop them from having those 30- and 40-point games.”

Bragg, by the way, might be convinced for an encore of his piano playing at this fall’s Late Night in the Phog. He recently shocked some campers by performing for them.

“They were very amazed,” Bragg said. “One kid came up to me and said, ‘I saw you at Late Night.’ I said I’d play for him again. I played a little ‘Ego,’ little Rihanna, ‘Work.’ I’m trying to take a class this summer, get my skills back, get it back up to par for this year.”

This, that: Former Mississippi State guard Malik Newman is on a campus visit to North Carolina State, Zagsblog.com reports. ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman says he’ll visit Miami this weekend. He’s also considering KU, Western Kentucky and others. ... Draftexpress.com says former KU forward Cheick Diallo will be taken 19th in the June 23 NBA Draft by Denver. Wayne Selden Jr., is listed as No. 19 pick of Round Two by Detroit.

Comments

Tony Bandle 3 years, 7 months ago

When i was playing ball, our shorts were shorter than today's cheerleaders skirts. Not a great look then and not a great look now.[on us, not the cheerleaders].

Just a guess, but bet the farm that Cleveland takes game 6. The NBA loves Game Sevens.

Because of his quickness,I sometimes forget that Bragg is 6'-10" tall. If Bill wants to go big sure can with Carlton, Mitch, Azu, Josh and Svi!!

Damn, I hope Draftexpress is wrong about Cheick going to Denver. All of Stan Kroenke's teams suck!!

Suzi Marshall 3 years, 7 months ago

What do you think about a big lineup using a double post....Azubuike, Lucas, Bragg, Jackson, Mykailiuk. Bragg might be quick enough to play the 3. That would be our strongest rebounding team. Lucas would need to have developed a 15 foot shot and be able to make that hi-lo pass. I'm looking forward to seeing the kind of versitle year Mykailiuk puts on.

Although the small (Mason, Graham, Jackson, Mykailiuk, Bragg) and big options are fun to ponder, it's going to be the trio of Mason, Graham and Jackson that will carry the team.

Mick Allen 3 years, 7 months ago

Suzi, your "Big" lineup is intriguing, but if I were the opposing coach and had the personnel to do it, I would press that "Big" lineup all over the court.My concern is the ball handling of the 6'8" Svi and the 6'7" Jackson for 94 feet. I think they both have adequate ball handling skills to handle the ball in the half court, but have concerns about full court pressure i.e. West Virginia. Also with the Big lineup we would not run the court as well and not be as efficient at scoring the easier open court, fast break baskets. Of course who we have on the court will be dictated somewhat by the personnel that the opponent has on the floor. I agree that the trio of Mason, Graham, and Jackson will carry the load offensively.

Suzi Marshall 3 years, 7 months ago

I was specifically thinking how we could best match-up in the early season game vs a Duke lineup of Frank Jackson/Grayson Allen/Tatum/Giles/Bolden. Duke's 3-5 will be freshmen in an early season game, which seems to favor Lucas', with his brains/brawn neutralizing Giles. Azubuike may be able to overpower Bolden especially with the high BBIQ Lucas there to assist. Bragg's length and his year of experience would make Tatum's life difficult. Josh Jackson, although head to head with Tatum would be the glamour a matchup, our JJ's competitiveness going against the snarky Allen would be an absolute delight to watch. I have no doubt Svi's ball handling would be good enough to run the point against the freshman Frank Jackson. Additionally the freshman Frank Jackson would encounter a nightmare trying to deal with the length and high IQ of Mykailiuk.

That team could also work vs UK, which will also play several freshmen, although playing mid-year would enable UK time to develop.

To complement the 'big' or 'thunder' team, Self could insert his 'lightning' team. Few teams will have the wide variety of options Self will have. This year may very well be Self's finest coaching year because he has such wide diversity of 'thunder and lightning ' to work with.

Tim Orel 3 years, 7 months ago

Are you suggesting two platoons, with vastly different styles? Might cause opponents, who might only have 7-8 college quality players, to have fits, the same way Kentucky's opponents were blown away a couple of years back.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 7 months ago

With 10 players on scholarship, it would be a hard act to follow plus I don't remember UK playing different styles just the 2 line-ups. I might be totally wrong about the different styles but only 10 players on scholarship, I believe isn't enough.

Dale Rogers 3 years, 7 months ago

Svi is handling point guard duties on the Ukraine team this summer. Anyone see any of those games to see how good his handle looks?

Tony Bandle 3 years, 7 months ago

Lord Almighty, thanks Suzi...how could I forget out starting center!!

Tim Orel 3 years, 7 months ago

First group that I recall making the long shorts popular were the Fab5 from Michigan. I've not been an NBA fan, so I concede His Airness may have been the first major player to wear them, but he didn't make me pay attention to them - the Fab5 did.

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 7 months ago

Very good, Suzi and Mick. It will definitely be a lot of fun watching how the strategy develops. Just hope that everyone stays healthy and that the team and coaching staff reach their potential. Could be very special.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 7 months ago

No disrespect to the Bulls but wasn't Georgetown where the longer version shorts originated?

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