ALBUQUERQUE — The news just got worse for University of New Mexico men’s basketball player Carlton Bragg.
The 6-foot-10 senior was kicked off the team after his arrest early Sunday morning on suspicion of aggravated DWI and possession of under 1 ounce of marijuana. Bragg was booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center and released Sunday morning.
“Based on what I know at this time, I will be removing [Bragg] from the team,” UNM head coach Paul Weir said in a statement issued Sunday night. “My hope is that he can find increased time and attention to heed to his personal well-being. My sole purpose going forward is to support Carlton in his health and growth as a young man. The game of life is much more important than basketball right now. I still believe in him and hope this next step will allow him to develop into a strong, responsible young adult while also completing his degree here at UNM. I am rooting that this next chapter is his best one yet.”
Bragg, 24, was stopped at 1:21 a.m. at an Albuquerque Police Department sobriety checkpoint near a downtown intersection. According to a police report, he was driving a white BMW and was observed to have bloodshot, watery eyes and an odor of alcohol with slurred speech. He told police he had consumed two glasses of wine between 9 and 10 p.m. Saturday night.
He consented to a standardized field sobriety test and was placed in handcuffs for operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol. It became an aggravated DWI charge after he refused to take a breath sample test approximately 40 minutes after first being stopped.
The report said a small bag containing less than an ounce of marijuana was found on Bragg during the booking process. The report also indicated that Bragg was irate and used abusive language with the arresting officer.
The incident comes less than a week after Bragg’s suspension for a separate incident had been lifted by UNM’s Office of Equal Opportunity. He had been accused of attempted criminal sexual penetration of a female student in August of 2018, a case the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office investigated.
The case remains open, although Bragg has not been arrested or charged.
UNM’s athletic department suspended Bragg on Dec. 22. It said officials had not been informed of the case until Dec. 19, approximately six weeks after the female student initially reported the issue to police and several weeks after APD had contacted Bragg seeking information.
Bragg sat out three games while the District Attorney’s Office and the UNM’s Office of Equal Opportunity conducted their own independent reviews of the case. The UNM department cleared Bragg to return Jan. 6.
He played in the Jan. 7 game against Fresno State, scoring two points in a win over the Bulldogs. He came off the bench in Saturday afternoon’s 84-78 win over Air Force in The Pit, scoring 11 points with seven rebounds to help the Lobos improve to 15-3 overall and 4-1 in the Mountain West.
A McDonald’s All-American out of high school in Cleveland, he initially played at Kansas for two years before transferring to Arizona State in 2017. He never played a game at ASU and transferred to New Mexico.
He gained his eligibility in December 2018, and obtained his undergraduate degree from UNM last semester. In the process, Weir praised him for dedicating himself to his craft.
When asked about Bragg following Saturday’s game, Weir said his big man was working his way back into form and the team was optimistic that he’d be back to the type of player he was before he was suspended.
“The reality is, he’s out of the groove,” Weir said. “We’ve just got to find a way to get his timing back, make the layups again, not stumble and stuff, and I think he’ll get there. He just has to keep his head in a positive frame of mind.”
Just a few hours later, Bragg was in handcuffs and being booked into jail for a second high-profile incident in less than a month.
Bragg appeared have gotten things on track before the season. He lost more than 60 pounds and developed a mid-range jumper to turn himself into a pro prospect. He averaged 10.5 points and 8.8 rebounds last season for the Lobos and is averaging 12.6 points and 10.3 rebounds this year.
He was one of eight players on the current roster who transferred to UNM from other schools. One of those players, junior point guard JJ Caldwell, was suspended the same day as Bragg after he was accused of battery against a 22-year-old female in a criminal complaint filed in December.
Caldwell has not played in the last five games and UNM has suspended him from team activities, banned him from campus and evicted him from his Lobo Village residence. He filed a lawsuit against the school Jan. 2, citing a lack of due process while seeking his immediate reinstatement and unspecified damages.
Citing a potential conflict of interest, the case has been referred to the District Attorney’s Office in Alamogordo. One of the parties named in Caldwell’s suit is Nasha Torrez, the UNM Dean of Students. She is married to Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez.
Neither UNM nor the school’s athletic department has commented about Caldwell’s suspension or lawsuit.