UK recruiting: Bragg gets Kentucky scholarship offer he's been angling for

broberts@herald-leader.comJanuary 12, 2014 

Carlton Bragg (Rivals.com photo)

Paducah — Cleveland power forward Carlton Bragg landed his much-anticipated scholarship offer to play basketball for the University of Kentucky on Sunday.

The offer came one day after Bragg — a 6-foot-8 prospect in the Class of 2015 — scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds in an 80-76 loss to UK signee Trey Lyles and Arsenal Tech (Ind.).

John Calipari and two assistant coaches attended the game between Tech and Villa Angela St. Joseph on the final day of the Mustang Madness showcase in Paducah.

Bragg got off to a fast start with 12 points midway through the second quarter, including an emphatic slam dunk in transition right in front of the UK coaches.

Lyles had 29 points and 15 rebounds in the contest, scoring nine of his team's final 10 points, including the go-ahead basket in the final minute.

Bragg was sporting a new UK hooded sweatshirt after his team's practice session Friday and made it clear throughout the weekend that he coveted a scholarship offer from Calipari, who also watched him the week before at an event in West Virginia.

The player's mentor, Michael Graves, told the Herald-Leader that he spoke to Orlando Antigua on Sunday and the UK assistant coach confirmed that Bragg has an offer from the Wildcats.

The schools that had already offered Bragg include Kansas, Arizona, Louisville, UCLA, Ohio State and several others. He is the eighth player from the Class of 2015 to receive a UK offer.

Bragg said over the weekend that — even if he were to receive a UK offer — he would wait until September to narrow his list and had no plans to make a college decision until his senior season.

Scout.com considers Bragg to be the No. 9 overall prospect in the junior class.

Skal on the mend

With five-star junior forward Skal Labissiere sidelined, Evangelical Christian (Tenn.) fell 47-37 to the bigger, more physical Quality Education Academy (N.C.) on Saturday.

"It was like entering a sword fight with a spoon," joked Evangelical Christian Coach Terry Tippett.

It was the 14th consecutive game that Labissiere has missed since being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his spine in November.

He was hurt during Evangelical's second game of the season. The team is now 8-8, but Tippett said they probably "wouldn't have lost but a couple" if he were in the lineup.

The last thing Tippett wants is to rush Labissiere back from the injury.

"He's feeling better," Tippett said. "He wants to play. It's driving him crazy that he can't play. But it's still sore. The doctor said the target date is Jan. 27. So we're looking forward to that.

"But he has a career beyond high school. So we have to be careful. I want him to get well, and I don't want to push him."

Labissiere was the first player from the Class of 2015 to receive a scholarship offer from UK. Other schools that are involved include Memphis, Kansas, Louisville, Baylor, Louisiana State and Georgetown.

Maker in no hurry

UK Coach John Calipari arrived in Paducah on Saturday in time to watch Thon Maker, who is considered by ESPN to be the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2016.

Maker had one of the lowest-scoring games of his high school career at Carlisle School (Va.) — just 10 points in a 66-65 loss to Sunrise Christian Academy (Kan.).

But one bad game won't affect his college recruitment, which already includes offers from many of the top programs in the country.

Maker's guardian, Edward Smith, said he has been in contact with coaches from Kentucky but he's not sure whether the 7-foot-1 center has a UK offer.

He doesn't know because he hasn't asked.

"I don't ask the question of coaches, 'Are you offering my kids?' I don't ask that," Smith said. "We're just focusing on basketball."

Smith said they wouldn't start asking about offers until Maker goes into his junior season, which is almost a year away.

Next big event

Several top UK basketball recruits will be back in the area this weekend at the Flyin' To The Hoop Invitational in Kettering, Ohio.

The four-day showcase begins Friday and will include UK signee Tyler Ulis, as well as top targets Montaque Gill-Caesar, Rashad Vaughn, Luke Kennard, Thomas Bryant and Miles Bridges.

More information on the event can be found at www.flyintothehoop.com.

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats. Blog: ukrecruiting.bloginky.com.

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