By DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Carlton Bragg Jr. arrived at Kansas a couple of years ago with high expectations, another five-star prospect who just might parlay a short stay in Lawrence into a career in the NBA.
He’s leaving with plenty of baggage and an uncertain future.
Bragg announced in a statement issued by the school Thursday that he intends to transfer, though the sophomore forward from Cleveland did not say where he will go. He made the decision after a season that included two suspensions, several off-the-court issues and a gradual decrease in playing time.
“This past year didn’t go as well as I thought it would and it’s in my best interest to get a fresh start,” Bragg said. “I want to thank my teammates, coaches and the fans for all their support these past two years. I will always cheer for the Jayhawks.”
Bragg showed glimpses of potential as a freshman but never took the big step coach Bill Self had wanted as a sophomore, averaging just 5.2 points and 4.1 rebounds. He didn’t even step on the floor for the Jayhawks’ loss to Oregon in the NCAA Tournament, ending their season just shy of the Final Four.
Along the way, he was briefly suspended when he was accused of pushing a woman down a flight of stairs, though video evidence later showed him acting in self-defense. He was also suspended following a separate investigation at McCarthy Hall, the school’s dormitory housing basketball players and other students, when drug paraphernalia uncovered during the search was linked to him.
Bragg was eventually granted diversion by Lawrence Municipal Court. The agreement for first-time offenders means the charges will be dismissed if Bragg does not commit another crime.
The Jayhawks could have used more from the 6-foot-10 Bragg this season. Backup center Udoka Azubuike broke a bone in his hand early in the year, leaving them perilously short of front-court depth — a weakness that was eventually exploited by the Ducks in the Elite Eight.
His departure, which had been widely expected, creates another open scholarship as Self puts the finishing touches on his recruiting class. Among the recruits already in the fold is 6-9 forward Billy Preston, who figures to assume most of Bragg’s minutes next season.
“We appreciate Carlton’s efforts the last two years at Kansas,” Self said in a statement. “We certainly respect his decision to pursue other opportunities. We wish him nothing but the very best and hope he is able to reach his dreams and goals.”
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