Kansas junior guard Devonté Graham says he’s pleased forward Carlton Bragg will be back in the rotation for Saturday’s game against Davidson after what turned out to be just a one-game suspension.
“I’m really excited for him, glad it worked out,” Graham said Thursday.
The Douglas County District Attorney’s office dismissed a misdemeanor battery charge against Bragg on Wednesday. Bragg, a 6-foot-10 sophomore from Cleveland, was indefinitely suspended by coach Bill Self after being arrested and charged last Friday and missed Saturday’s game against Nebraska. Video evidence resulted in the district attorney’s office dropping the charge against Bragg and charging the woman who had accused him, 19-year-old KU student Saleeha Soofi, with battery.
Self lifted Bragg’s suspension Wednesday night.
“We can’t talk about it too much. Coach said he’s the only one who can really talk about the whole situation, but we are definitely glad he’s back,” Graham said.
Self spoke in generalities about Bragg at Thursday’s weekly news conference.
“I don’t speak to that specific incident, because I already have,” Self said. “But I’ll say, regardless of athlete, student, parent, whoever, it’s certainly a situation that you would probably never hope that you would ever have to deal with, but unfortunately people do. The manner in which this particular situation transpired, I think was educational.
“I also think it was one in which you could look at Carlton and understand he took some hits in order to do the right thing by letting the process play out. Not putting guilt or blame on anybody. But a lot of times the first thing you want to do is speak up, and this was a situation that I think that his teammates learned the best way to handle it was the way he did,” Self added of Bragg not speaking publicly until releasing a statement Wednesday after the charge was dropped.
Self was asked if he ever speaks to his players about how to conduct themselves in social settings as representatives of the program and university.
“That’s something we talk about every day,” Self said. “You play basketball here, you’re a high-profile college athlete at a high-profile institution, and you’re living in a glass house, so to speak. Part of the negative thing is people can see in. But the positive thing is if you’re taking care of your business and people can see in, it can be also a positive thing as well.
“I think that we should always be very conscious that we know we’re representing far more than ourselves every time we walk out of our dorm or apartment or however you want to determine it. And I think our players for the most part — for the most part, no one’s perfect — but they obviously do a pretty good job with that.”
Graham said that shortly after arriving at KU his freshman season, “I realized I’ve really got to start watching what I do. It can cause a whole lot of drama.”
“It’s a huge responsibility,” Graham said of being a KU player. “You’ve got a lot of eyes on you especially around town. A lot of people know specifically who we are when we go places, things like that. There’s a lot of people watching you and you don’t know it. Coach stays on us about just doing the right things as if nobody is watching and just represent yourself, your family and your organization.
“It is definitely a reality for any high-major Division I college athlete out there that has a reputation at a big program. You’ve got to just watch what you do,” Graham stated.
Bragg, who has practiced all week, has averaged 7.8 points and 5.3 rebounds a game entering Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against Davidson at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
“Well, he’s practiced fine. Like we said before, it’s not like he’s been out of practice,” Self said. “He’s practiced the last few days. His role in practice probably changed a little bit here (playing more with the scout team) in the last day or so. But he’s done fine.
“Hopefully he can come out and just focus on basketball and perform well on Saturday and kind of get a little bit of his confidence and maybe a little bit of his mojo back.”