Top 100 camp notes: 2015 prospect Bragg coming to Big Blue Madness

broberts@herald-leader.comJune 18, 2014 

— Cleveland forward Carlton Bragg is a few weeks away from narrowing his list of schools, and it looks as if Kentucky will make the cut.

Bragg, a consensus top-10 player in the class of 2015, told the Herald-Leader on Wednesday that he plans to cut his list of college possibilities to six or seven schools on Sept. 1. He also said that he's planning an official visit to Lexington for UK's Big Blue Madness weekend in October.

The 6-foot-9 prospect spoke to UK assistant Kenny Payne and coaches from Ohio State, Kansas and Louisville before arriving Tuesday at the NBPA Top 100 Camp. Arizona and Illinois are among the many other schools that have been seriously involved in his recruitment.

Bragg recently returned to the United States after spending a few days in Italy, where he and several other stars from the Adidas circuit played against international competition at the Adidas Eurocamp.

One of his teammates on that trip was Jaylen Brown, another top-10 prospect in the class of 2015 and a player that Coach John Calipari has made a priority in this recruiting cycle.

Bragg and Brown are also friends off the court, and the Cleveland native said the two spoke about possibly attending the same college. It sounds like they're not on the same page at the moment.

"Me and Jaylen were talking, but I don't think we're going to the same school," Bragg said.

When asked if that was because he felt like the two players were "leaning" toward different schools, he responded: "Yeah, pretty much." He then smiled and said, "But I can't speak for him, so I don't know."

The next Shaq?

Udoka Azubuike is two years away from playing college basketball, but he's already one of the hottest recruits in the country.

The native of Nigeria — now playing for a high school in Florida — picked up scholarship offers from Kentucky, Duke and Kansas in a matter of 24 hours this week.

It was a testament to how far his game has come.

"Kentucky offering me a scholarship — I feel great," Azubuike said. "It feels like all of the hard work I've been putting in has paid off. It's a great experience. Not everybody has the opportunities to get an offer from Kansas, from Kentucky, from Duke. Those are big programs. Everybody knows about them.

"I don't feel like I've made it though. I'm still going to work hard."

The 6-foot-11 center came to the United States about 21/2 years ago. He said he weighed 190 pounds at the time. Now, he's up to 260 pounds and is one of the most physically imposing players in high school basketball.

Azubuike wants to make sure that his size is used correctly at the next level.

"I will try to go to a school that fits my system of play," he said. "I can't go to a school that just shoots the ball all of the time and doesn't pass to the big man. I'm going to try and find a school that deals with big men and welcomes big men. That's the kind of school I like."

His high school coach — Steve McLaughlin — told the Herald-Leader that Azubuike is an "animal" who tries to dunk on everybody when he's on the court. That style of play has resulted in comparisons to NBA great Shaquille O'Neal.

Azubuike grinned when asked if he was familiar with Shaq's game.

"I watched some of his highlights," he said. "He likes to dunk a lot."

Still no contact

Last month, North Carolina point guard Dennis Smith Jr. told the Herald-Leader that there were two schools he was hoping would jump into his recruitment.

Those schools were Kentucky and Florida, and Smith noted that — as a class of 2016 prospect — college coaches would not be allowed to contact him directly until June 15.

That date has come and gone, and neither Southeastern Conference program has given him a call.

"I still want to hear from Kentucky and Florida," Smith said Wednesday.

The 6-foot-1 prospect is quickly establishing himself as one of the top point guards in the class of 2016, and he already has offers from Duke, Kansas, Wake Forest and several others. ESPN ranks him as the No. 9 overall prospect in the class.

Smith is averaging 19.1 points, 5.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals on the Adidas circuit this summer.

Change of plans

UK recruits Jaylen Brown and Stephen Zimmerman were among the players expected to participate in the Top 100 Camp this week.

Those plans changed when they were named to the Team USA under-18 squad Sunday.

That means Brown and Zimmerman — both from the class of 2015 — are still at the Team USA training facility in Colorado Springs preparing for the FIBA Americas U18 championship, which will start later this week.

Other players on the team include Duke signees Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, Arizona signee Stanley Johnson, and former UK recruit Luke Kennard, who has committed to Duke.

Brown and Zimmerman have both announced plans to use official visits on a trip to Kentucky, and Zimmerman has already set up his for Big Blue Madness weekend in October.

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

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