Bragg Just Getting Started

Bragg Just Getting Started

His recruiting in it's infancy, his game yet to bloom. This summer is Carlton Bragg's for the taking.

This summer is Carlton Bragg's for the taking.

Fresh off helping Villa Angela-St. Joseph High (Cleveland, Ohio) to a state title, Bragg is already established as a high-level recruit in the 2015 class.

Ohio State, Illinois and West Virginia have already offered, but his game is still progressing. And his recruitment is just taking off.

Recently, Indiana and Louisville have been in constant contact, while the likes of Kentucky, Duke and Kansas have reached out, too.

"We know the circus is just beginning," Babe Kwasniak, Bragg's high school coach, said.

As a sophomore, Bragg averaged 16 points and 5.1 rebounds per game as VASJ won the fifth state title in the program's storied history.

His 6-foot-9 frame combined with his 42 percent shooting from the 3-point line make him an attractive recruit, and thus, the attention has picked up.

"It is exciting, but I really don't pay attention to it," Bragg said. "I'm not one to get a big head or anything."

Kwasniak says Bragg is, "an awesome kid, as good as it gets."

His attitude already in good standing, Bragg's had some help from VASJ assistant Mike Graves, who Bragg calls his mentor. Graves coordinates the bulk of the recruiting attention and coaches him on the court, but it's more than that -- he's influential off the court as well.

"Coach Graves has done a great job with Carlton," Kwasniak said. "Carlton kind of comes from the streets of Cleveland. He's never had anything handed to him. He's had to work for everything. You see so many kids with his ability that are entitled, but Carlton is not like that."

Kwasniak won three state championships at VASJ in 1991, 1992 and 1994. Graves was a part of the winning, too, as a 1993 graduate.

The school boasts Desmond Howard, Clark Kellogg and Bob and Mike Golic as alumni.

"I don't want to put too much pressure on him, but the truth is Carlton has the God given ability to be as good as anybody we've ever had."

Despite the penchant for winning and the notable former stars, Kwasniak says VASJ isn't a sports powerhouse. There's more of a blue collar atmosphere.

That mentality and a long list of previous connections made it easier for Illinois and Coach John Groce to turn up the intensity in pursuit of Bragg.

"Illinois was first to the punch, and there's been a prior relationship," Kwasniak said. "I don't even know the rank order (of schools recruiting Bragg), but I do know those guys are a viable option because we trust them. They're working their tails off. We're flattered they're recruiting one of our guys. It's an honor for us."

The history between Groce and his staff and VASJ is lengthy.

Kwasniak and Graves defeated Illini assistant Dustin Ford for one of those titles in the early 90s.

"Every time he walks into our gym he's got to see a banner that could have been his hanging in our rafters," Kwasniak joked.

Groce was integral in recruiting David Lighty from VASJ to Ohio State in 2006.

And when he was at Ohio, Groce was all over both Demonte Flannigan and Duane Gibson, two seniors that were the heart and soul of last season's title team.

"I would be pretty confident if Coach Groce was still at Ohio University they probably both would have been really high on playing for him," Kwasniak said.

Flannigan signed with Cleveland State, while Gibson will play for Evansville.

Kwasniak recalls Groce and assistant Jamall Walker making four hour trips by car while recruiting Flannigan and Gibson.

He sees that same work ethic in the recruitment of Bragg. Ford recently watched Bragg play six games in one weekend. And Groce and Ford met with Kwasniak and Graves this week, talking for over two hours about any and everything.

"It's been serendipitous the way this has played out," Kwasniak said. "I'm not saying Illinois is in the lead. I'm not going to push Carlton to any school, but we know that Carlton Bragg has thrived in our environment and our culture. I think what Coach Graves is doing is trying to find that same culture for Carlton at the next level."

While Illinois has gotten off to a great start, Bragg says he's in no hurry to make a decision.

Ohio State is in good standing, as well.

"I really like their style of play," he said.

There will be some home-state pull from the Buckeyes, but truthfully Bragg grew up following Texas, a school that recently started showing him attention.

"I liked them because of Kevin Durant," he said.

His recruiting in it's infancy, his game yet to bloom. This summer is Carlton Bragg's scene for the taking.

"I think Coach Groce said this today, Carlton is going to go to any school he wants," Kwasniak said. "They're all coming, believe me."

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