Carlton Bragg transfer least surprising in basketball history
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.