University of Kansas

KU roster takes shape as Carlton Bragg announces he’s returning

Carlton Bragg’s freshman season at Kansas offered occasional highlights, but KU coach Bill Self says Bragg can be better.
Carlton Bragg’s freshman season at Kansas offered occasional highlights, but KU coach Bill Self says Bragg can be better. Kansas City Star

For a third straight day, the Kansas men’s basketball team received positive news about next season’s roster.

Forward Carlton Bragg announced that he will be returning to KU for his sophomore season during Wednesday night’s awards banquet at Abe and Jake’s Landing.

“I sat down with my mom, and she gave me her pros and cons about it,” Bragg said. “I slept over it and made the best decision for me.”

Bragg announced during an exchange on stage with KU coach Bill Self at the end of the night. Self talked about the players coming back next season, and Bragg yelled out from the stage that he would be returning.

“Why don’t you come tell everybody you’re coming back then?” Self said.

After stepping up to the podium, Bragg’s comments were brief.

“I will be playing again next year,” he said before receiving a loud ovation.

Bragg, who played in all 38 games last season while averaging 8.9 minutes, projects to step into Perry Ellis’ spot as a starting forward.

As a freshman, Bragg’s strengths were shooting and offensive rebounding; he made 56 percent of his two-pointers and also posted the team’s second-best offensive rebounding percentage behind Landen Lucas.

There is still room to improve. Bragg, who is 6 foot 9 and 220 pounds, isn’t an elite defender and often was challenged by Self to improve his defensive rebounding.

Self said he’d known about Bragg’s decision for two weeks.

“Carlton, he knows that if he can get a little stronger and he can be a guy that can average 12 to 15 next year, he won’t have to make a decision whether if he comes or goes,” Self said. “He’s going.”

Wednesday’s announcement continued a week of good news for KU. On Monday, top-ranked recruit Josh Jackson committed to the Jayhawks, and on Tuesday, sophomore guard Svi Mykhailiuk declared on Twitter he would be returning to the program. Self cannot comment on Jackson yet because the guard has not officially signed.

“We’re set,” Self said. “We haven’t got any letter-of-intents back yet, so we obviously can’t comment on it, but I feel really good about who we’re going to sign this spring. I think we’ve put ourselves in a real favorable position.”

The only pro decision left to be made is from freshman forward Cheick Diallo, who declared for the NBA draft but did not hire an agent, meaning he has until May 25 to make a final decision. Self has hinted a few times over the past few weeks — including during Wednesday’s banquet — that Diallo is likely to remain in the draft.

If Diallo leaves, KU would have 10 scholarship players for next season with three scholarships still available. Self is likely to still pursue one or two transfers while remaining involved in recruiting a freshman big man, which could include Rivals.com’s 20th-ranked player Jarrett Allen or five-star Thon Maker, who has announced plans to enter the NBA Draft though the league could deny his request because of its rules regarding draft-eligible players.

Self addressed the future during some of his final remarks Wednesday.

“Guys, we’re going to be really good next year,” Self said. “We’re really excited, and our staff would tell you, I haven’t been this excited probably going into a summer or a spring than what I am right now, because I know what these guys are capable of.”

Jesse Newell: @jessenewell

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