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Wendell Carter: Duke players ‘weren’t able to show all their strengths’


Wendell Carter had some interesting comments after a recent workout in Chicago, telling reporters that his situation at Duke limited the array of skills that he was able to showcase to NBA teams.

“I think even my teammates, all my teammates, weren’t able to show all their strengths,” Carter said, according to ESPN. “That’s just the college life. You buy into whatever college you go to. You do whatever you got to do to help the team win. I think, not even speaking for myself, but all my teammates, we’re going to be able to show a lot more that we can do at the next level with the spacing on the floor, the fact that it’s the NBA. It’s not no-zone like how we were playing [at times], but it’s a lot more space on the court.”

He’s right.

Duke’s offense was built around the ability of Marvin Bagley III. When you have a player that can average 21 points and 11 boards, you do that and then find a way to get the rest of the pieces on the roster to fit together as well as possible. And while Duke had their growing pains, they more or less did that. After struggling to find a way to be an effective man-to-man team, the Blue Devils went zone full-time, became one of the best defensive teams in the country, finished the year ranked 3rd on KenPom and came this close to getting to the Final Four:

I have a lot of thoughts on what Carter said, so let’s work through them all:

  1. First and foremost, I don’t think anything he said is really all that controversial. Duke’s offense was built around Bagley and everyone else was asked to play a role. When you join a roster with the amount of talent that Duke had, someone is going to have to accept that there is a best player and then there is everyone else. Kevin Durant is a top three player on the planet and he takes a back seat to Steph Curry when he needs to.
  2. That said, I do think there may be some lingering resentment there for Carter. He committed to Duke with the understanding that he would be asked to play the four, to play the role Bagley played, only to see Bagley join the roster in August and have his role get changed. I can understand why that would be frustrating.
  3. Unless you are a bonafide superstar, NBA teams are looking to draft players that can fill a role on their roster. The fact that Carter was able to perform at a high level despite the fact that he was often the third or fourth option offensively for that team is something that should be a positive in the eyes of NBA GMs. He’s not the type to complain if he didn’t get 20 shots a night.
  4. Carter did thrive, especially offensively. The feel that I have is that most NBA teams understand just how versatile Carter is on the offensive end of the floor, that he’s a player that can score with his back-to-the-basket, that he has range to space the floor and that he’s a better passer than he gets credit for. There’s a reason he gets compared to Al Horford on the offensive end.
  5. The reason Carter is projected to go in that 6-10 range in the draft has everything to do with concerns about him defensively and whether or not he has the footspeed to avoid being a target for ball-screens. That’s not an issue that manifested itself because Duke had too many weapons offensively.

The situation is going to be different for every player. Wendell Carter is still going to end up being a top ten pick despite the fact that he was the second-best big man on his college team, and I don’t think he gets drafted that much higher had he ended up at a school like Harvard or Georgia Tech, where the offense would have been geared entirely around him.

On the other hand. Trae Young is going to be a top ten pick because he went to a school where he could do whatever he wanted offensively, and I don’t think that would have been the case if he had opted for Kentucky or Kansas, rosters where he would have been asked to blend in.

You could make a pretty strong case that Gary Trent Jr. would have been better off somewhere he would have been more than just a spot-up shooter or that Grayson Allen’s draft stock has headed the wrong direction in the two seasons since he and Brandon Ingram were all the Blue Devils had offensively, but both of them are still going to end up being picked somewhere between the late-first and early-second round. Given physical and defensive limitations, that sounds about right for both of them.

That’s a long winded way of saying that Carter is right. There is going to be more of a chance for these guys to shine in a different system, but the that doesn’t mean that any of them were hurt that much sharing a roster with all those talented pieces this year.

Louisville lands local four-star 2019 guard

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Louisville continued its hot stretch on the recruiting trail on Saturday as local four-star Class of 2019 guard David Johnson pledged to the Cardinals.

Johnson is the third top-100 prospect to commit to Louisville in the past two weeks as he joins a four-man 2019 recruiting class that should be among the best groups in the country. The 6-foot-4 Johnson is regarded as the No. 98 overall prospect in the Rivals Class of 2019 national rankings as he comes from nearby Trinity High School.

Previously committed to the old staff at Louisville, head coach Chris Mack and his staff were able to retain Johnson’s commitment, as he joins a potentially loaded recruiting class. With an ability to play both perimeter spots, Johnson should be able to get others involved when he’s playing on the ball while also being able to pick his own spots as a scorer.

Johnson joins four-star guard Josh Nickelberry, four-star wing Samuell Williamson and four-star forward Jae’lyn Withers in the Louisville Class of 2019 recruiting haul. With Mack and his staff getting three top-100 prospects in the past two weeks, Louisville is currently one of the hottest programs in the country when it comes to landing quality commitments.

And even though Louisville has been in the midst of recruiting scandals over the past few years, they still have all of the necessary check marks for a school to consistently recruit elite players. Now that Mack is providing stability at head coach, Louisville plays in an elite conference with elite facilities with one of the best fanbases in the country. We’re quickly finding out that recruits only care about what will help them over the next few years.

Virginia lands early 2021 commitment from prized perimeter recruit

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Virginia got its Class of 2021 recruiting efforts off to a positive start on Friday night as North Carolina native and guard Carson McCorkle pledged to the Cavaliers.

The 6-foot-3 McCorkle is a highly-regarded young perimeter prospect, as he’s been invited to USA Basketball events and recognized as a potential top-100 prospect. He’s also the first 2021 prospect that Virginia offered a scholarship.

That means Virginia is doing a great job of looking ahead on the recruiting board, as a Class of 2021 commitment gives them more time to close out 2019 and 2020. McCorkle visited Virginia for an unofficial visit in August and he evidently came away impressed enough to commit before his sophomore season. The early commitment from McCorkle could also give the young guard, and Virginia, time to potentially reclassify him up a grade if the Cavaliers wanted him a year early.

Of course, McCorkle (and Virginia) have plenty of time to change their minds over the next few years. But landing McCorkle early is also a positive sign for Virginia’s future recruiting as they’ve locked up a key target as an underclassman.

Miami dismisses guard from program

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Miami announced on Friday afternoon that Miles Wilson has been dismissed from the program for “not meeting team expectations.”

The school provided no other comment or explanation for the dismissal.

Wilson, a 6-foot-2 combo guard, averaged 11.8 points and 3.9 boards as a freshman at Mount St. Mary’s before opting to transfer out of the program. He sat out the 2017-18 season in Coral Gables as his mandatory redshirt season.

“Miles comes to the U after a very successful year at Mount St. Mary’s, where he helped them reach the NCAA tournament,” Jim Larrañaga said in a statement at the time Wilson committed to the Hurricanes. “Miles has the size, length and athletic ability to be an outstanding defender; in addition, he has the shooting and ball handling skills to be a real threat at the offensive end.”

VIDEO: Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton jumped out of a plane

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Don’t worry.

He was skydiving.

USC adds to top 2019 class with four-star recruit Kyle Sturdivant

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Andy Enfield’s 2019 recruiting haul already includes two five-star, top-20 recruits along with a pair of additional four-star prospects in the top-100. It’s good enough, right now, for USC to own the best class in the country.

And on Thursday, the Trojans added to it.

Kyle Sturdivant, a top-100 recruit out of Georgia, has committed to the Trojans.

The 6-foot-3 point guard previously committed to his home-state Bulldogs and new coach Tom Crean, but backed off that pledge last month. He also had offers from Cal, Clemson, Auburn and Florida, among others.

Sturdivant put up 16.2 points, 5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game last season while playing alongside top-five recruit Vernon Carey on Team Takeover Florida.

His commitment gives Enfield a point guard in an already loaded class. The Trojans previously received commitments from five-stars Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu and four-stars Max Agbonkpolo and Drake London, giving them the consensus top class in the country this fall.

The Trojans’ continued success keeps the trend alive of schools who were caught up in the FBI corruption investigation simply shaking it off and landing more top talent.

The kings stay the kings.