NCB On The Trail: Carlton Bragg

Adidas Super 64 recap 

July, 25, 2014
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LAS VEGAS -- It was our first look at the national talent on the Adidas side of things and we did not go home disappointed. Hosting the Adidas Super 64 at the Cashman Center allows coaches and scouts to stay at one venue and take in the talents of fast-rising senior Jaylen Brown as well as the multi-faceted game of super junior Miles Bridges. However, there were a couple of highly ranked seniors that didn't match the Vegas heat as their performance would fall under the "too cool" category.

Best Senior

[+] EnlargeJaylen Brown
Kelly Kline/AdidasSeveral big-name college coaches were in attendance to watch small forward Jaylen Brown take to the court in Las Vegas.
Jaylen Brown

The NBPA top 100 dream team 

June, 23, 2014
Jun 23
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After watching over 100 prospects at the NBPA top 100 camp during a four-day period, I thought who would I want to coach if I had one practice before playing one game.

I am making my decisions based on their performances and stats from the camp courtesy of Statva.com, along with prior evaluations from the high school year and the spring evaluation period.

Assembling this team wasn't just about sheer talent. It was more about the prospects’ skill level, productivity, and how well they know their roles and are able to blend their talent into a team concept. The roster below has everything I would want and need to win a game.

Here is the starting lineup, sixth man, and bench:

Starting lineup


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Five 2015 classes off to fast starts 

June, 3, 2014
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As we turn our attention to the Class of 2015 and the newly released ESPN 100, here’s a look at five college basketball programs that have a head start on the 2015 recruiting trail:


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With Myles Turner's commitment to Texas serving as an unofficial close to the 2014 recruiting class, it’s time to focus on the 2015 crop.

Here are 10 questions that the recruiting world will seek to answer in the next year:

1. Will it be one and done?


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#AskCoachB: Future for Kansas

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.
Freshman center Joel Embiid has yet to officially announce his NBA draft decision, but it looks like fellow freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins will do so on Monday. The school released a statement that the 6-foot-8 freshman from Canada will make an announcement at 3 p.m. ET. When you have an announcement set up, it usually means you are going somewhere, not staying.

Looking ahead to 2015, Naadir Tharpe will be graduating next year, which makes point guard an absolute need in the 2015 class. Everyone will also be keeping tabs on returning wing Wayne Selden and incoming freshmen Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre next season.

The Jayhawks' needs in 2015 could be many depending on which players declare for the NBA draft next year. Here is an early peek at their wish list in 2015. On the perimeter there's Malik Newman, Jalen Brunson, Jalen Adams, Antonio Blakeney, Montaque Gill-Ceasar and P.J. Dozier. Dozier, who has been sidelined with a knee injury this year, will be back and has already shown the talent to be a high-major prospect.

The main targets for the frontcourt are ESPN 60 No. 1 Ivan Rabb, Diamond Stone, Stephen Zimmerman, Chase Jeter and Carlton Bragg.

This is an early, fluid list of recruits Kansas has targeted. There is a very good chance this list will change after the spring evaluation period.

Top players at Ohio state finals 

March, 24, 2014
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The Ohio high school boys basketball championships were this past weekend on the Ohio State campus in Columbus and featured many of the state's and the Midwest's best players.

In Division IV, Convoy Crestview beat Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas 71-44 to complete an undefeated season. In Division III, Lima Central Catholic upset the talented Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph squad 64-62. In Division II, Norwalk prevented Columbus Watterson from being repeat champions by winning 65-58. In Division I, Lakewood St. Edward defeated Upper Arlington 62-58 in overtime in what was one of the best high school games I have ever seen.

Best Player
Kipper Nichols
Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward
6-foot-6, 200 pounds, 2015 SF

Nichols really stepped up and showed why he is one of the most improved players in the Midwest. The multi-skilled combo forward made the state finals his personal showcase. Nichols had 25 in the semifinal vs. Cleveland East Tech and then put 26 on Upper Arlington in the final. Nichols is a tough cover with solid perimeter skills and the ability to operate in the paint as well. He is one of the best players in Ohio's 2015 class.


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The Michigan Wolverines are having another strong season on the court this year, despite losing a pair of NBA players in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. They are on top of the Big Ten standings playing without one of their main weapons in Mitch McGary, who had back surgery.

One thing that is evident under John Beilein and staff: They put effort into their evaluations and it pays off because most of their recruits fit their system.

Projecting needs for the 2015 class could vary based on who departs for the NBA, transfers and, of course, graduation. Their class for 2014 is ranked at No. 39. This is not a complete list, but here are some main targets for the Wolverines in the Class of 2015:

Stephen Zimmerman (Las Vegas /Bishop Gorman) Jalen Brunson (Chicago/Stevenson), Luke Kennard (Franklin, Ohio/Franklin) Carlton Bragg (Cleveland/ St. Joseph's), Diamond Stone (Milwaukee/ Dominican), Eric Davis (Saginaw, Mich./ Arthur Hill), Henry Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis./Rice Lake).

Mustang Madness recap 

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
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The inaugural Mustang Madness held at the new McCracken County High School in Paducah, Ky., was quite a success. The tournament is run by the same crew that puts together the famous Marshall County Hoopfest.

[+] EnlargeCliff Alexander
AP Photo/Damen Jackson/Triple Play New MediaCliff Alexander is ranked No. 3 in the ESPN 100.
Beast of the East
Cliff Alexander (Chicago/Curie)
2014, PF/C, 6-foot-9, 240 pounds
Signed with: Kansas
The big fella was his normal, dominant self in Curie’s victory over Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph, scoring 25 points. There is no more athletic and productive insider in the country. He has a solid touch and should be able to become an effective face-up player in time. He reminds me of a young Amare Stoudamire.

Best Improvement

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First of all, that's a great question because the Blue Devils will -- in all likelihood -- lose Jahlil Okafor after one season. I would not get caught up as to who can play the 5-spot. You can win in college basketball with elite power forwards if they do their job by defending and showing the ability to defend bigger players and rebound. It's important they display the skill to score both inside and away from the basket. Duke will need size in 2015.

In addition to ESPN No. 5 Diamond Stone (Milwaukee, Wis./ Dominican) who the Blue Devils have made deep inroads with, Duke is involved with the big man from Texas -- ESPN No. 6 Elijah Thomas (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) and super shot blocker and ESPN No. 8 Skal Labissiere (Memphis, Tenn. Evangelical Christian).

Speaking of elite power forwards, the Blue Devils are in the mix for ESPN No. 10 Carlton Bragg (Cleveland, Ohio/ St. Joseph) and ESPN No. 37 Chase Jeter(Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman), who is an above average post up player and rebounder.

We are a long way from 2015, but for college coaches who are recruiting, the early period is when you begin your evaluations and show attention to the ones you want to get.

Roundtable: Which '15 recruit will shine? 

December, 3, 2013
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With 95 percent of the current ESPN 100 officially off the board following the early signing period, the focus of the recruiting world will likely begin to shift to the 2015 class sooner rather than later. We already know plenty about the class that currently populates our ESPN 60, but with the second half of their high school careers just beginning, the recruits are bound to make plenty of movement in the rankings over the next 18 months.

With an eye on recent late bloomers like Joel Embiid in the 2012 class and Myles Turner in 2013, we asked our team of RecruitingNation experts which ESPN 60 prospect will everyone be talking about a year from now.

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Maker, Adebayo star in John Lucas camp 

September, 30, 2013
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The John Lucas Midwest Elite camp attracts many of the top underclassmen in the country. The camp’s focus is on skill development -- the players go through various stations designed to help improve different parts of their game as well as compete in games. Here’s a look at who stood out:

Best Pure Scorers


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Breaking down the new 2015 ESPN 60 

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
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Malik NewmanAP Photo/Charles SmithCallaway, Miss., shooting guard Malik Newman might be No. 1 in the 2015 ESPN 60, but a deep class of big men will challenge him for that spot over the next 18 months.
We’ve processed a full summer worth of action and now our updated ESPN 60 includes the top national prospects in the 2015 recruiting class. Here’s 10 things every college basketball fan should know as this class heads into its junior season:

1. A battle for the top spot

There’s a new No. 1 in town, and while Paul Biancardi breaks down why Malik Newman (Jackson, Miss./Callway) is the new top dog, I’m here to tell you this race is far from over. The previous No. 1 Ivan Rabb (Oakland, Calif./Bishop O’Dowd) is going to want his title back, and no one is making a more aggressive charge to the top of the rankings than Stephen Zimmerman (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) who has been coming on strong all spring and summer. Ben Simmons (Melbourne, Australia/Montverde Academy), Diamond Stone (Milwaukee/Dominican), and Elijah Thomas (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) are three other guys who will challenge in the coming 18 months as the top spot is still very much up for grabs moving forward in the 2015 class.


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Notebook: Bruins host big visitor 

September, 20, 2013
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Truth? It’s not a big campus visited weekend. Take a look at the pedestrian football schedule and you’ll see what I mean. However, there are a few stragglers on campus this weekend, some of which are crucial to a few programs this year and next.


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Top 10 lessons learned in July 

July, 31, 2013
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To understand what just happened in college basketball recruiting, let me use a golf analogy. In golf majors, Saturdays set the players up for the final round and determine the pairings for the homestretch.

In college basketball, the month of July is like that Saturday of a golf major. Coaches fly coast to coast, some to evaluate and others simply to babysit prospects. It’s a grueling 15 days on the road -- separated into three different five-day open evaluation periods -- and even the seasoned veterans will tell you that. Technology has made it easier to keep track of the recruits, but travel is travel, and so much time in different cities is rough on the bodies of the players and coaches.

Still, July remains the single most important month on the recruiting calendar. It sets the tone for in-home and official visits. It helps set up the final round and determines the pairings for the homestretch.

For the better part of July 6-28, I was on the road. Every day was something new and an opportunity to gather intelligence on players and pay attention to the world of college basketball recruiting. If you didn’t learn something daily, you weren’t doing your job.

Here are 10 key things I learned this month on the recruiting trail, from package deals to the loaded 2016 class and everything in between.

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LAS VEGAS -- The underclassmen took center stage during Thursday's action at the adidas 64. Despite the sweltering heat in Vegas, scouts and coaches were treated to the dazzling talents of ESPN 25 prospect Josh Jackson (Detroit, Mich./Consortium) and ESPN 60 PF Carlton Bragg. Jackson has the physical tools and a feel for the game that is rare to see for a player of his youth, leading some in Michigan to call him the best prospect the state has produced since Chris Webber and Jalen Rose. Right now I would agree with that assessment but time will tell if it comes to fruition.

Not to be upstaged by the young guys, Florida commit Brandone Francis was also impressive for the senior class.

Here's a closer look at the top stars on Day 2 in Las Vegas.

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