Calipari Made Bragg Nervous; Arizona, Ohio State, Illinois In Mix for 2015 Forward
By KURT J. STUBBS IISpecial to ZAGSBLOGWHEELING, W.V. – Carlton Bragg is very familiar with Bishop Gorman’s junior duo of Stephen Zimmerman and Chase Jeter, having played against the two at one time or another on the travel circuit or at the Adidas Nations.
However, this was the first time the Clevland Villa Angela- St. Joseph’s junior had to deal with both in a real game setting on national television.
Bragg’s VASJ Vikings met the Gaels on Friday night in game featured on ESPNU as part of the 7th Annual Cancer Research Classic. It was evident from the start Bragg was pressing and appeared a bit nervous, but the 5-star prospect didn’t attribute the nerves to television. Rather, the presence of John Calipari and assistant Orlando Antigua had him a bit on edge.
“I tried to block that out, but I was very nervous coming in,” Bragg, a 6-foot-8, 2015 power forward, said in regards to Calipari sitting on press row. “I had to really pick it up in the second half.”Bishop Gorman’s zone coupled with its size and length really bothered Bragg throughout the night attributing to his 3-of-14 showing from the field and 1-of-6 shooting behind the arc.
Bragg was forced to take a lot of difficult shots with a hand in his face and he never really seemed comfortable despite finishing with nine points and 14 rebounds in 30 minutes of play.
His counterparts, Zimmerman and Jeter, finished with 21 points and 8 rebounds and 11 points and 9 rebounds respectively. Zimmerman was 7-of-13 from the field mostly coming on rim-rockers.
So, where does Bragg stand with Kentucky?
“They said they have to get done with 2014 before they worry about 2015,” Bragg noted.
The VASJ junior says he continues to hear from every school in the country, in his words, but Arizona, which we reported last month offered him, seems to be the new school heavily in the mix.
“Arizona is really trying to get to know me more as a person than a player,” Bragg mentioned.
Bragg continues to mention Ohio State and had some kind words to say for the home state school.
“Ohio State is my hometown school and I love them,” Bragg stated. “I just got off the phone with them [Thursday] night and they told me to just keep my head up and keep working hard.”
When asked if Illinois was still heavily involved, Bragg was quick to respond with a “most definitely, yes!”
St. Joe’s has dropped two straight games now, and Bragg knows he needs to continue to get better as teams are beginning to play him more physical and not allow him to leak out as much.
On a personal level, St. Joe’s ballyhooed prospect is working on several aspects of his repertoire.
“I’m continuing to work on ball-handling and getting stronger,” Bragg said in regards to overall improvement. “I’m working on coming off open screens and moving without the ball.”
Bragg will have a chance for redemption in the coming weeks as he and the Vikings will have games with Arsenal Tech (Trey Lyles) and Curie (Cliff Alexander).
Photo: 247 Sports
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.