Villa Angela-St. Joseph senior Carlton Bragg was understandably nervous before making the biggest decision of his life on Jan. 8 at Viking Village.
However, during the ceremony where the 5-star prospect announced where he would attend college, there was one moment where he relaxed, flashed his extremely familiar smile and had some fun.
When asked what he would say to his new college fans, Bragg beamed and grinned and answered with a familiar three-word phrase:
“Rock Chalk Jayhawk,” the senior star said not long after he verbally committed to the University of Kansas.
Widely regarded as one of the top 20 recruits in the nation for the Class of 2015, Bragg had also been considering Kentucky and Illinois before deciding on Coach Bill Self’s Jayhawks. Arizona and UCLA were listed in the 6-foot-10 power forward’s final five schools, but the decision came down to three as Bragg made his selection during a ceremony at Viking Village in front of school administrators, Coach Babe Kwasniak, his mentor Mike Graves, his teammates, friends, family and media members.
“At first, I kept changing, changing,” Bragg said. “As time went past, I started thinking about it, started writing the ups and downs, the goods and bads about the schools — toward the season I started thinking and thinking about it and I just wanted to get it over with.
“On my visit, toward the last day, we went to Coach Self’s house. I felt that brotherly love they had and I felt comfortable around the guys. That’s when I knew I could be there. … When I went to Late Night in the Phog (Kansas’ first practice of the season). That’s when everything changed. It was a great experience.”
Bragg is a four-year starter averaging 20 points and 8 rebounds per game for the unbeaten, nationally ranked Vikings. He was named second team Division III All-Ohio in 2014 after averaging 18 points per game and helping the Vikings reach the state championship game in March. He has been an all-conference and an all-district selection multiple times as well.
Bragg is a talented, long and very skilled stretch ‘4’ who was a key member of the 2013 Division IV state championship team at VASJ. Bragg is an immediate impact player with tremendous upside who is ranked No. 18 in the ESPN 100 for prep prospects. He has been recruited by nearly every major Division I program in America. He is a key member of this year's Vikings squad, which has started 7-0 with wins over national powers Archbishop Carroll and Arlington Country Day.
Kwasniak was not informed officially of the decision, but said that he had an idea where Bragg would end up not long after the standout returned from his visit to Lawrence.
“When Carlton came back from his visit, I could just tell he had a little bit of a different stride to him,” Kwasniak said. “Coach Self has a great track record. You go and play basketball at the University of Kansas … it might be the most electric place to play basketball, not just in college, but in America.”
Kwasniak also added that the transition from high school to college ball shouldn’t be a difficult one for Bragg.
Self runs a high-low system, so that won’t be a shock to Carlton’s system because obviously with he and Dererk (Pardon), we run a high-low offense, so I think that’s something he’s going to adapt to,” Kwasniak said. “He’s used to playing with really good players. Now, obviously the caliber at Kansas is going to be great. But, not only is he used to playing with great players, our kids are used to playing against great players.”
Bragg joins senior teammates Brian Parker (Marist) and Dererk Pardon (Northwestern) as having committed to play college basketball at the Division I level.