UK among 11 schools pursuing Cleveland star Bragg

broberts@herald-leader.comMay 18, 2014 

Kentucky seems to be in a pretty good spot with Cleveland basketball star Carlton Bragg, but a quick end to his recruitment looks unlikely.

Bragg said Saturday that he has already made the first cut to his list of schools, though he's only narrowed his choices to 11 programs and has no plans to reveal them until September.

UK will certainly be one of the schools on that list.

Bragg — a 6-foot-8 forward in the class of 2015 — openly lobbied for a scholarship offer from the Wildcats last fall and finally landed one in January.

"It made me work harder as a player and as a student," Bragg said. "Because once you go to Kentucky, all it is is success. (Even) if you're one and done, you can come back in four years and get your degree."

On the night of the national championship game, he tweeted a photo of himself wearing a UK hooded sweatshirt and said Saturday that he had been rooting for the Cats to win the title.

He visited Lexington for the first time last fall and reflected on that "awesome" trip over the weekend while playing in the Adidas Gauntlet event in Indianapolis. There's a good chance that his next visit will be centered around Big Blue Madness in October.

Ohio State, Kansas, Illinois and Arizona are among the other schools pursuing Bragg, considered the No. 8 rising senior in the country by Scout.com.

Bragg struggled with foul trouble for much of the weekend but left the event on a high note: 35 points, seven rebounds, four blocked shots and four steals in a victory Sunday morning.

Still time for Smith

Las Vegas wing Ray Smith was just starting to hear from UK when he decided to cut his list to 10 schools earlier this month.

The Cats didn't make it.

"The list cut was basically just to let people know that I'm really starting to sit down with my father and talk about what my decisions are," Smith said. "We're sitting down every day and evaluating every college.

"My ten is not a hard ten. Someone can slide in at any time."

Smith — the No. 25 overall player in 2015, according to 247Sports — said he has planned official visits to Louisville, UCLA and Georgetown. The 6-foot-8 prospect added that Arizona was also likely to get an official visit.

Tough time for Travelers

More injuries led to another four-game split for the Kentucky Travelers at the Nike league event in Virginia over the weekend.

Knott Central's Camron Justice missed the trip with an ankle injury and Trinity's Ray Spalding (ankle) was sidelined for both losses Sunday. Lexington Christian star Matt Rose has also been hampered by a foot injury.

The Travelers (6-6) head to Minnesota this weekend for the final regular-season stop on the Nike tour. They'll probably need to win two of their four games there to qualify for the Nike Peach Jam finals in July.

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

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