Bill Self calls Carlton Bragg, a 6-foot-9 McDonald’s All-American, a “shooting and scoring type of power forward.”
On Wednesday, Self could finally call him a member of his Kansas program. Bragg, who committed to KU in early January, signed a national letter of intent on Wednesday morning, officially becoming the first member of the Jayhawks’ 2015 recruiting class.
The Bragg file looks like this: A native of Cleveland, Bragg is rated as the nation’s 15th best prospect, according to Rivals.com. He averaged 21 points per game during his senior season at Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School, leading the program to an Ohio state title, and becomes the 37th McDonald’s All-American to sign with Kansas.
“Certainly, he’s one of the more skilled big guys that we’ve signed since we’ve been here,” Self said.
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Listed at 6 foot 9 and 225 pounds, Bragg profiles as a versatile power forward in the mold of former Kansas standout Marcus Morris. He joins a frontcourt that already features power forward Perry Ellis, the Jayhawks’ leading scorer last season, and veteran big men Jamari Traylor, Hunter Mickelson and Landen Lucas.
On Wednesday, Self credited assistant coach Norm Roberts for leading the recruitment of Bragg.
“We’re so excited to have Carlton on board,” Self said. “Norm did a great job in working with Carlton and his family to become part of our KU family. Carlton has great family support with his mother Monica Howard and his uncle Ezra Stokes.”
With Bragg in the fold, Self and his staff can focus on filling the remaining three vacant scholarships. For now, the recruiting priority remains in the frontcourt, where Self would like to add a potential rim protector or defensive anchor. The Jayhawks are still targeting high school power forward Cheick Diallo, a Mali native who played his high school ball in New York, and Stephen Zimmerman, a 7-footer from Las Vegas. Both are top-10 prospects. Kansas is also pursuing Mike Thorne Jr., a graduate transfer from Charlotte who will be eligible right away. Thorne is slated to visit Kansas next week.
“I think that we’re one big away that could anchor things for us,” Self said on Monday after the KU team banquet. “We’re still actively involved with a couple of — three guys.”
With three scholarships available following the departure of Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander, the Jayhawks could also look to add another guard — though Kansas has five perimeter players returning to an experienced backcourt.
“If we can get a great guard, a difference making guard, a pro…” Self said. “He doesn’t necessarily have to be a one-and-done guy, but a guy when you watch him, whether it’s a Ben (McLemore)-type you know will be an NBA type guy — our talent level will be as good as it’s been in a long time.”
Wednesday, though, was about Bragg. In a press release announcing the signing, Self took time to mention Bragg’s high school coach, Babe Kwasniak, a former assistant coach at UMKC, and Bragg’s mentor, Mike Graves.
“They’ve done a great job in developing and mentoring this young man,” Self said, “to the point where I think it will be a pretty seamless transition for him into Division I basketball.”