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Carlton Bragg transfer least surprising in basketball history

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Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) waits to check into the game against Kansas State during the first half, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) waits to check into the game against Kansas State during the first half, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017 at Bramlage Coliseum. by Nick Krug

Only someone whose vision was blinded by crimson-and-blue lenses couldn't see Carlton Bragg's transfer coming. He wasn't the right player for Bill Self and Self wasn't the right coach for him.

A Hall of Fame coach doesn't change his style to accommodate one player or he risks losing the rest of the team. You don't even do that for a productive player. Self's style has worked well enough for him to win 13 Big 12 titles in a row, reach the Elite Eight in 50 percent of his seasons, go 3-1 in the Final Four and bring Kansas its first national title since 1988. It just didn't work for Bragg, who took a backward step as a sophomore.

Here's hoping that whatever else other than a hit to his confidence that made Bragg's hands worse, his shots from the perimeter more tentative, his attention to detail shaky, can be solved in his next stop. He didn't play much on the perimeter as a sophomore because his size was needed in the paint, especially after the injury to Udoka Azubuike, but even when he did shoot from the outside, he didn't do so with the same confidence. He shot with one eye on the rim, the other looking over his shoulder in the direction of the bench.

Bragg remains a basketball prospect, but this is the big leagues. And he's had two seasons to try to figure out how to hit the curveballs that come with competing at the highest level and continued to look lost, Kansas couldn't afford to keep taking chances on a player still in need of minor-league seasoning. He was a Double-A pitcher with a 95 mph who didn't trust his stuff enough to throw strikes.

If any doubt remained as to whether Bragg would return for a third season, it all vanished when he didn't get off the bench in the loss to Oregon that denied Kansas a spot in the Final Four.

Other signs surfaced long before that. Guards sometimes would drive into the lane, see Bragg as an available target and either consciously or subconsciously remember a dropped pass from the past and wisely decide to put up a shot instead.

Here's hoping Bragg, who runs the floor well for a big man and has a soft shooting touch from the perimeter, can find a school where he can showcase his perimeter skills and face the sort of competition that will enable him to develop into a prolific rebounder. Kansas wasn't that school and never was going to become it.

KU's future became brighter with Thursday's announcement as did Bragg's chances at becoming a better basketball player.

Sometimes, everybody wins.

Comments

Suzi Marshall 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Bragg's off-court issues did not help much. Although the 'assault' thing was completely bogus there were more than enough disruptive issues.

Do you or anyone think Bragg's departure might have an influence what Graham and/or Svi might decide?

Brock Wells 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I doubt it Suzi because Devonte' and Svi had to see this coming as well.

Suzi Marshall 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm sure they did. Apparently neither of those two socialized with Bragg that much. I'm wondering if they think things would be smoother with Bragg gone, hence more favorably considering staying ... or they liked him a lot and think he got a really bad deal, hence wanting to leave more. Perhaps it has no material effect. Nevertheless, just wondering...

John Fitzgerald 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I have a hard time seeing Svi or Graham leaving. I think they have too much to gain from staying another year. And our team could shape up to be another contender with even more depth. But, I've been fooled before. And either way I trust in Self. He always finds a way to make his teams competitive.

Steve Jacob 2 months, 2 weeks ago

No mention of his drug arrest and his still unknown role with the dorm sex assault?

Brock Wells 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Shakir Juiston from HCC has the toughness that Bill loves and I hope this seals the deal. Carlton just didn't show any toughness this year (not a knock on him just a fact) and Tom is correct... it's a win-win.

Pius Waldman 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Well whatever happens can't be changed. It appears that Carlton decided to leave rather than maybe being encouraged to leave. It always is sad when things don't turn out right. As to the idea that Bragg didn't fit with the style of play Self used it might be fair to say maybe the coach didn't fit the player to use his abilities. I am sure many realize the attitude Self used about zone defenses yet other schools at least consider using different defenses. Crappy is the word coach uses and he admits hardly any effort in practice is used to refine it for use. As someone that has watched over a thousand games maybe changes in defense confuses teams and helps winning. Even though the location of Kansas University may be a hindrance for players that want to play close to their homes Self will gain top players for the future. Self has ability to gain players that are competitive. .

Creg Bohrer 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I don't like seeing any of our players transfer, but this one needed to happen for Carlton's sake. He really has had some bad things happen to him this last year that I really feel he brought a lot of it on himself. He needs to transfer and stay focused on school and basketball.

Chris DeWeese 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I totally agree. I think he still has lots of growing up to do. He likely could have avoided those problems/setbacks if he had focused more on school and bball.

Steve Jacob 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Free agency has begun. If your bad on a good team, you leave, if your good on a bad team, you leave.

Clara Westphal 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I wish Carlton well. I hate it when players leave. There is often two sides to the story.

John Brazelton 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Well Keegan, let's hope the new owners of the Lawrence Journal World don't decide to relieve you of your duties as Sports Director as easily as you call for football and basketball players you don't like to be culled from KU.

John Fitzgerald 2 months, 2 weeks ago

That might very well be the dumbest comment of the day. Good for you.

Priest Fontaine 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Time for a fresh start. Time to lose the headband. Wish you well Bragg but you couldn't even catch a pass all year. Nothing you can blame on Coach Self or KU for that. Hit the weights and get serious about balling or you'll be in the same situation at your next school.

Doug Clark 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I really hate to see us lose anybody to transfer, but this probably needed to happen for both sides, he just didn't seem to be focused on basketball at all, I was really excited to see his improvement from last year at the beginning of the season but it was brutal to watch him this year. Even with that said I was hoping he would rededicate himself this off season and help the team next year but I guess that's not what he wanted to do. I enjoyed his upbeat personality last year even when he wasn't playing alot, I wish him good luck going forward, I hope we can sign some more recruitsthat will help us next year and beyond.

Brendan Connolly 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I am sure this will get me banned, and quite frankly I don't care. Keegan your attitude as an adult talking about a kid the past few weeks to months is probably the worst case of journalism that I have ever seen. You are not talking about a professional athlete that makes a living out of this, but a young man that is trying to figure out his life and get his act together. You might not view it, but you are seen as a de facto voice of the University and it's teams. To treat a student athlete who chose to come to KU and represent it. Was he the best ambassador we ever had? No, but he is an immature 19 year old that is learning and growing...he should know better, but is understandable why he does not? So what is your excuse Tom? Truly despicable.

Steve Zimmerman 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Brendan, I think you need to explain more than just judging back. Do we even know whether he initiated the transfer or the coaching staff? I'm not trying to side with anyone, but he does seem to think this team + coaching staff are not suitable for what he was looking for. This is probably the result of both wanting a divorce.

John Fitzgerald 2 months, 2 weeks ago

And dumbest comment of the year goes to...

RJ King 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree with you Brendan. I think many of Keegan's comments are at best snarky and at worst - maybe not despicable - but at least a bit mean-spirited.

It makes me wonder if he has kids, has ever worked with teenagers, or has coached a youth team. I'm guessing his frequent pompous, bombastic writing style pretty much matches his personality.

Tom Gillaspie 2 months, 1 week ago

21 not 19. Still a young man, but you would expect a little more maturity.

Brett McCabe 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The minor-league baseball reference is a good one, and the most telling action was that the guards wouldn't dish to him.

I, too, thought that Carlton would make a major leap this year, and it was this belief that made me think we'd hang a big banner this year. Here's hoping Carlton finds the right fit in another place. His skill set could work well overseas, so the potential for a long, lucrative basketball career is till there.

Plus, if he can find a job with a team based in Amsterdam, he'll be all set.

Steve Johnson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Happy for the team and for Bragg. He needs to get a fresh start but not overly optimistic about his future. He was a major distraction for the team the entire year. Needs to get his head right before he does anything and make good decisions

John Fitzgerald 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Kudos to you Keegs. I don't see how some of these people think you degraded Bragg's character and apparently drug him through the mud on the way to his inevitable transfer. That was all him. You just simply said what most informed KU fans knew and thought. And Bragg's not a bad kid, he just made some mistakes. Unfortunately for him at KU you don't get many chances, if any. This is a top tier program with guys waiting in line to play for Self. But either way I wish him the best and trust that Self will find a solid replacement.

Calvin Baker 2 months, 2 weeks ago

John Fitzgerald, Brett McCabe and several others on here have said it better than I. To blame Keegan for Bragg's ineptitude on the court is ludicrous. To often, Bill would insert Bragg into a game with KU holding a 7 or 8 point lead and three minutes later remove Bragg after a foul or two, a lost rebound or two and losing his man or a to-slow rotation on defense, and the lead suddenly down to 2 points. Only in a couple of games did Bragg make his presence felt in a positive way. And to blame Keegan for writing about this is really stupid and off base.

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