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Illinois Basketball reaches out to Kansas transfer Carlton Bragg

The former five-star recruit nearly picked the Fighting Illini out of high school.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Purdue vs Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Underwood will have his work cut out for him in Champaign this offseason following the recent decommitments of Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett. With four open scholarships, it’s likely that the Fighting Illini will be forced to take advantage of the transfer market in order to fill roster needs for next year and beyond.

We’ve already seen reports of the program pursing Bryant guard Nisre Zouzoua, and further word of a potential front court addition broke on Saturday.

According to Illini Inquirer’s Derek Piper, Illinois assistants Orlando Antigua and Jamall Walker have been in recent contact with Kansas transfer Carlton Bragg. The 6-foot-10 forward received his release from the Jayhawks on April 6.

“I really enjoyed my time here at Kansas,” Bragg said in a statement. “Kansas has the best fans and I do love the program. 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. 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 will have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2017-18 campaign.

During his sophomore season with the Jayhawks, Bragg averaged 5.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game as a bench player. He saw about 14 minutes of action each night, however he was noticeably absent from Kansas’ Elite Eight loss to Oregon.

Bragg had an eventful year off the court. He was suspended on December 9 after being charged with misdemeanor battery; the forward missed one game and was reinstated after a complete dismissal of the case.

Bragg was also arrested and charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia in late January, which led to yet another suspension from the team.

As some fans may recall, the Fighting Illini recruited Bragg out of high school. The Cleveland native was a five-star prospect -- rated No. 25 overall by 247Sports — and he also obtained McDonald’s All-American status following his senior season. Bragg ultimately selected Kansas over Illinois and Kentucky following a ferocious pursuit by John Groce.

Illinois’ front court is in particularly disastrous shape right now, but assuming Underwood is alright with taking on some of the associated baggage, Bragg could be a great option moving forward.