Bragg Keeping Elite Company

As quiet as they come, Carlton Bragg's recruitment is plenty loud enough to complement for his low-key personality.

As quiet as they come, Carlton Bragg's recruitment is plenty loud enough to complement his low-key personality.

Elite players like Bragg get recruited by elite programs. What started in the spring, picked up steam in the summer and has maintained momentum through the fall.

Kentucky coach John Calipari was in to see the 6-foot-8, 195-pound, 2015 five-star forward in early October.

Coaches from Kansas, North Carolina, Louisville, Ohio State, Illinois, Texas, UConn and more came through as well.

"It was amazing. Everybody around here was talking about it," Bragg said of his visitors.

Bragg's recruitment is full-fledged and high-profile, and his junior season has yet to begin. There's plenty of basketball-oriented attention being paid, to both improve his game and to address his potential future home. Still, what pleases his mentor Michael Graves the most is the 3.7 grade point average the Cleveland, Ohio native earned last quarter.

"Carlton is still doing what he does," Graves said of the academic work. "Everybody is excited with what he's been able to do in the classroom."

As it stands right now, Kansas, Illinois and Ohio State are his top offers. Maryland, UConn and Iowa recently stepped forward as well. Duke told him the staff is currently focusing on the 2014 class but has been in consistent contact. He's hearing the pitch from Calipari and the Wildcats as well.

"With Kentucky it's like a business," Graves said. "They want to make their dreams come true. Kentucky is not for everyone, but they are top notch. They have an amazing locker room and training facilities."

Given proximity, many have tabbed Ohio State as the favorite to land Bragg. There's plenty to like in Columbus.

"Pretty much their facilities," Bragg said on his main draw to the Buckeyes. "it's a big gym. I like where they play a lot."

While the Buckeyes are in the mix, Bragg himself isn't naming a favorite school. Bragg, along with his family and Graves, continue to take the process slow and aren't ruling out any school interested at this point.

"No place too close, no place too far." Graves said. "We still hear from UCLA, Coach (Steve) Alford he calls. We're not just tied to Ohio."

One school that offered early and has kept in close contact has been Illinois. Coach John Groce checked in on Bragg this week and assistant Dustin Ford makes weekly contact as well.

"Illinois has a family atmosphere," Graves said. "Coach Groce, he's excited. We want to get to a game and see him in action. They keep track of Carlton, and they want him. Carlton is a real important piece to what they want to do in the 2015 class."

The good news is, Bragg is one of the best players in the country, recently cited as the No. 26 overall player according to the Scout Ultimate 100 (ranking high school players regardless of class). And he's hearing from the best coaches and programs around the nation. The even better news is, Bragg has plenty of time to sort of all this out.

"It gives us time to check up on everybody," Graves said. "We're not making any quick decisions. You get to see who really wants Carlton for Carlton."

The plan from here to take a few unofficial visits in the coming months to see games firsthand. Graves said the decision-making process won't intensify until Bragg can take official visits next year. Until then, things will remain open. But Bragg and Company know what they're looking for.

"Environment, coaching style, campus life, academics," Graves said. "They've got to have a plan for Carlton. That's major. If somebody has a plan for him, basketball-wise and academic-wise, that's how we'll know they really want him."

Illini Inquirer Top Stories