In the end it wasn’t just the “perfect” official visit or the relentless nature in which the coaching staff pursued him or the fact that he felt he’d have the best chance to accomplish his dream of becoming an NBA player that ultimately swayed Pace Academy (Atlanta) forward Wendell Carter Jr. to commit to Duke, “it was a combination of everything that did it.”
“It was really just everything about Duke that made them the best option for me,” Carter told USA Today High School Sports. “Everything from talking to past players to their strength and conditioning program to my relationship with the Coach K and Coach Capel and the staff; I just know that Duke is the best place for me. That’s why I decided to go there.”
Carter, who has already signed his national letter of intent, picked the Blue Devils over Harvard, Georgia Tech and Georgia.
Carter, who is ranked No. 3 overall in the ESPN 100, and fellow five-star recruit Gary Trent Jr. maintained throughout their recruitments that they intended to team-up in college.
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Trent, a shooting guard at Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.), committed to Duke on Nov. 10.
“It just worked out that it was the perfect situation for both of us,” Carter said. “I won’t say Gary being there was what made me go to Duke; it helped, but Duke is Duke. It really was the right choice for both of us.”
It also helped that Duke’s star freshmen trio of Harry Giles III, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden are all projected to be lottery picks in the 2017 NBA Draft, their probable early exits, along with the loss of fifth-year senior forward Amile Jefferson, would mean immediate playing time for Carter.
“That was important to me,” Carter said. “I want to be playing as much as possible so I can, hopefully, make it to the next level as well.”
Last season, Carter led the Knights to a state title averaging 25 points, nine rebounds and three assists per game. This past summer he pumped in 15 points and eight rebounds a game for Team CP3 (N.C.), which made it to the Elite 8 of the prestigious Nike Peach Jam tournament in July.
Carter led the Georgia Stars to the Peach Jam title the previous summer.
Carter also helped USA Basketball’s U17 squad earn a gold medal in July, scoring 11 points, grabbing eight rebounds and swiping three steals in USA’s 96-56 win over Turkey. It was Carter’s second gold medal with USA Basketball.
Carter said he plans to turn his attention to recruiting “now that I’m officially in the Duke family.”
First order of business?
Find a point guard.
“I’m going to be talking to Matt (Coleman) and Trevon (Duval),” Carter said. “I know Duke is a finalist for both of them so I want to talk to them to see where they’re at with everything. Then I’ll decide who to go after. For now though, I’m just happy to have everything over and done with. I’m excited to join the Duke family and I’m excited for Thanksgiving dinner!”
Here’s what the Blue Devils are getting in Carter.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY