Carlton Bragg was all smiles at practice Wednesday night at Viking Village.
The Villa Angela-St. Joseph star routinely flashes the familiar grin around his teammates and coaches, but the joy on this evening was for a very special reason.
Bragg, who committed to Kansas earlier this month, was notified he was one of 24 seniors selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game – the premier all-star game in the country. The 6-foot-10 star will be on the West roster when the game takes place April 1 at the United Center in Chicago at 9 p.m. He was in the middle of a practice when he found out he had made the team, becoming the first Viking since Treg Lee in 1987 to make the game and the third overall, including Clark Kellogg in 1979.
“It means a lot and it feels good because there was a lot of hard work that went into this,” Bragg said shortly after he was told of the selection by Coach Babe Kwasniak. “I thought I had a good chance at it but I didn’t want to jinx it. So I just put it to the side and went to work in practice and in the games for my team.”
Bragg is averaging 21.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game and has helped VASJ reach No. 1 in Division III in the state AP poll and as high as No. 9 nationally in USA Today. As a sophomore, Bragg was part of the 2013 Division IV state title team.
“I felt like after the way Carlton played against Oak Hill if he didn’t get it in it would be a real shame, so I feel like he really earned this. But I didn’t need to see his name on that list to know he is one of the top players in the country,” Kwasniak said. “I am just so proud of him as a player and as a person.
“I think one of the neat things is how our guys reacted and to see his teammates get almost more excited than Carlton is something I won’t forget.”
Bragg won't be the only player from Ohio to play in the game. Franklin senior Luke Kennard (Duke commit) – the reigning Mr. Basketball in the Buckeye State – will play for the East roster.
Bragg is looking forward to matching skills with the best in the Class of 2015 and representing Viking Village one more time after his career at VASJ is over sometime in March.
“I love this school,” Bragg said.
“I know I have been working hard and I want to put my skills to the test. It couldn’t get better than this.”