Just after he hit the 18-foot jumper, Carlton Bragg smiled wide, screaming a few words toward defender Mitch Lightfoot.
Bragg — already known as one of KU’s happiest players — was even more boisterous Saturday night, leading the Jayhawks with 18 points as the Crimson and Blue teams played to a 48-all tie in the scrimmage at the end of Late Night in the Phog.
“It was exciting. I love it,” Bragg said of Late Night. “It’s not something you can say, you can tell people. You’ve just got to experience it for yourself. It’s just that type of deal.”
Bragg’s 17 minutes were filled with highlights. Halfway through the 20-minute scrimmage, he caught an alley-oop off the backboard from teammate Devonté Graham and slammed it in. A minute later, he shot in his second three-pointer, raising his fingers to his face to make “Three goggles” while looking up to the fans.
“I’m the same person I was last year. I’ll still bring a lot of energy,” Bragg said. “I’ve just got to bring it on the court as well, defense and offense.”
Bragg slammed home his final alley-oop with 1:30 left, pumping his fist on his chest afterwards. He made 8 of 11 field goals and is expected to step into a starting spot following the graduation of Perry Ellis.
KU coach Bill Self, who has previously called Late Night scrimmages “brother-in-law ball” based on their lack of defense, was predictably less enthusiastic about Bragg’s performance.
“He made some shots,” Self said. “But the thing about it is, if we don’t figure out a way to have him score some baskets inside … he’s got to be able to score on the block too. He knows that.”
Lagerald Vick impressed offensively on the Blue team, scoring 12 points with help from 2-for-4 three-point shooting. That also included the top play of the night, as he threw in an alley-oop from teammate Frank Mason over his head backwards.
Josh Jackson, the nation’s top-ranked freshman, had nine points on 4-for-7 shooting for the Crimson team. He was one of many newcomers, Bragg said, that were affected by the large crowd.
“When we went in the locker room and changed, everybody was like, ‘I’ve got these nerves’ and stuff,” Bragg said. “It just comes with the Late Night. It’s part of it.”
Bragg, who played just nine minutes per game last season, said he was looking forward to the possibility of starting this season.
“The body’s feeling good, working with (strength coach Andrea) Hudy, putting on pounds,” Bragg said. “Just keeping my body right.”