Wendell Carter Jr. brings all-around package to Bulls

NBA.com Global on Jun 25, 2018 08:35 AM
Wendell Carter Jr. brings all-around package to Bulls
Duke's Wendell Carter Jr., right, shakes hands with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after he was picked seventh overall by the Chicago Bulls during the NBA basketball draft in New York, Thursday, June 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

NBA.com staff report

Wendell Carter Jr. had his plan in place from a young age, as early as the third grade. His hoop dreams always centered on fulfilling a destiny his father, a professional player overseas, never did. So when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called his name early during Thursday's draft (Friday, PHL time), it was the culmination of a family project years in the making.

Carter, who joins an up and coming young cast in Chicago, arrives with a focus and attention to detail that puts the emphasis on professional in professional ballplayer. As Malika Andrews of the Chicago Tribune points out, Carter has spent his young life preparing for the opportunity that is being presented to him now with the Bulls:

At Pace Academy, Carter was also one of the highest-ranked basketball prospects in the country. He scored 30 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to lead Pace to the Georgia Class AA state championship in 2016.

Pace coach Demetrius Smith made sure to tune in to the draft after a staff meeting Thursday night.

“As far as a big man, he’s probably the best from Georgia since Dwight Howard,” Smith said. ”There never has been another guy like him at our school.”

Carter sacrificed some of his own offense on a Duke team that also had Marvin Bagley III and Grayson Allen — two other first-round picks. Carter averaged 13.5 points and 9.1 rebounds for the Blue Devils, serving as a more physical complement to the sinewy Bagley, whom the Kings selected at No. 2.

“The beautiful thing about Wendell is that he doesn’t have to be the featured guy to have an impact,” Carter’s performance coach, Sekou Walton, said. “Wendell can actually help you out defensively, he can get your rebounds. His assist ratio is pretty high as well. He can work well with someone who has to have touches. Wendell is that perfect support guy, and the NBA needs more people like Wendell.”

Indeed, Carter’s potential lies not only in his physical gifts and scoring ability but also his unselfishness and commitment to team play. Kylia describes her son as “unselfish to a fault.” Sommerville called him the “quarterback that makes everybody’s life easier.” Throughout high school, Carter kept a comprehensive training program that reflects his attention to detail: He practiced, lifted weights, stuck to a healthy diet and even carried a water jug everywhere he went to ensure he was properly hydrated.

One of Smith’s favorite memories took place immediately after Carter’s sensational championship game performance in 2016. After Pace beat Manchester High 65-43 in the state final, the team celebrated with burgers, fries and milkshakes from Chick-fil-A on the bus ride back from Macon to Atlanta. When the bus pulled up at the school and Carter’s teammates rushed to go celebrate, Carter stayed behind to pick up the napkins, bags and cups.

“We always say, ‘Leave it better than you found it,’ ” Smith said in a phone interview from his Atlanta home. “I have seen him do it after games too — picking up Gatorade cups and stuff like that. You just don’t find too many kids that are that humble and are willing to do all the dirty work, the little stuff.”

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