The adjustment to college basketball can be a difficult one for incoming freshmen, whether they arrive on campus with high acclaim or if they’re seen as a recruiting afterthought by the average fan. Arriving in the summer can help in that regard, as there are fewer distractions to deal with as they get used to a new (and tougher) level of play.
For Kansas freshman forward Carlton Bragg, the team’s preparations for the World University Games have helped in his adjustment to college basketball and what his new head coach requires of him.
While also noting the fact that he dealt with some homesickness early on in an interview with the Lawrence Journal-World, Bragg discussed how much he’s learned during the team’s practices in advance of their trip to South Korea. With games due to begin July 3, competing with Kansas’ experienced front court has helped the freshman in the first stage of his transition to college basketball.
“It’s very tough, very intense,” Bragg said. “I’ve been getting pounded down low, not learning stuff, coach getting on me. It can be a pretty big challenge, but I managed to get through it (first week) and keep progressing more.
“They (older teammates) are getting me ready mentally. I’m going through what they went through their freshman and sophomore years, how coach can get on you, them telling me to stay positive. I love it,” he added of the support. “It’s like a family. The culture here is amazing.”
As was seen last season, freshmen can have a difficult time adjusting to Bill Self’s demands, especially on the defensive end of the floor. Kelly Oubre Jr. didn’t see playing time along the lines of what was expected of him until conference play, and Cliff Alexander also had his struggles before being declared ineligible by the NCAA.
But those are things young players have to find a way to push through, as Bragg’s learning this summer. A positive for him is that he’ll have these early practices and games to gain an even greater idea of what his new coaches demand on both ends of the floor, and the hope is that this experience will benefit Bragg (and in turn the Jayhawks) this winter.