One on one with Wendell Carter

He may turn out to be the premier Duke target it he class of 2017, and he’s fielding a lot of heavy Duke interest early on. So what will be important to Georgia big man Wendell Carter when it comes to making his college decision? We spoke with him about that and much more in the first of our two part interview series.

How was the experience of being up in Chicago for the Nike Global Challenge?

Wendell Carter: It was good being able to see all the top talent go against each other. Even though I wasn’t able to participate, I still had a good time. I had a groin injury, it’s not like an injury, it’s more I think I just wore it out playing so many games this summer. It’s not technically an injury.

Prior to the groin issue, how do you think the spring and summer went for you?

It went pretty good, lot of college coaches reached out to me and told me that they really wanted me.

How are you handling all the early attention?

It’s just whenever I have free time or I’m not doing anything is when I try to handle it the most.

Do you do a lot of reaching out on your own to the coaches, or do you more wait for them to contact you?

I wait for them to call me and my parents.

Which programs have you personally had the opportunity to speak with the most?

I probably hear from Duke the most.

How often do you hear from them?

Probably every three or four days.

Which coaches from the Duke staff are you hearing from?

Coach Capel. I’ve also talked to Coach K…I talked to him a lot when I was in Chicago, but other than that, I don’t talk with him on a regular basis.

Was the conversations with Coach K while you were in Chicago the first time you ever really spoke with him?

Yeah and I heard from Calipari also.

With Coach K and Coach Calipari, what kind of things did you learn about them during those initial conversations?

I like them, first of all. I respect their programs and what they have done for their student athletes and helping them get to the NBA and winning National Championships. I learned from Coach K, well, let me start with Coach Calipari, he really loves the kids. He’s about getting those guys as close as he can to being able to get to the NBA. With Coach K he’s more, he’s like a really good person. He feels probably the same as Coach Calipari does in that he cares about getting his kids to the next level. He’s not looking to making himself look good, he’s trying to make them look good.

What did Coach K and Coach Calipari emphasize to you in those first conversations—any areas in particular?

It just takes hard work and there’s days where maybe the players don’t feel like coming in, but if you dedicate yourself and put in the hard work and time, they both said that nothing will stop me from getting to the next level.

You mentioned you’ve been talking with Coach Capel a lot, what kind of things have you been discussing with him so far?

He just kinda checks in with me, see how my day goes, things like that. Coach K is the one who talks about the program the most, he talks about it, but he tries to not just talk about the program, he tries to learn more about me.

What are your thoughts on the approach that Coach K and Coach Capel have taken to you so far?

They’re really good coaches. And good people.

What do you remember about how Duke gave you a formal scholarship offer?

When I talked with Coach K, he officially offered me when I was at USA. I was excited getting an offer from one of the top schools in the country especially being my age.

Has Duke or any other program discussed with you yet what kind of role they see you playing if you went there?

I haven’t really talked about that.

Do you have any thoughts yet on how you feel how Duke and Kentucky and any program recruiting you utilizes their bigs?

Yeah I think they both use bigs pretty well. Both got top top bigs in the draft, in the Top 5. I have no choice but to look at that.

Based on what you have heard and learned about Kentucky and Duke—do you feel the same about them in terms of interest in them?

They both have the same interest, and I have the same interest in both of them.

When you think about what’s a good fit for in a college program, what factors are most important?

First things first, and that is academics. Not saying whoever has the best academics is the school I’m going to, but if a school that fits me the most and works around how to get me better, I would be interested in them.

Have you received any helpful feedback on those areas yet from any programs?

I haven’t really talked to anybody about that yet.

Has any program recruiting you asked you to setup visits to them either during the summer or fall?

No, no one has asked me to come yet.

Are there any programs that you and your family are thinking about for potential visits?

Basically I’m looking at everyone, I’m not sure what schools I want to go visit quite yet. I’ll keep my options open to all schools.

There’s been some reports about you and Gary Trent, Jr. wanting to play together in college, can you elaborate on that a little bit?

Yeah that’s something we’ve both talked about a little bit with both of us being talented players, we just have a fun time talking about it. Nothing too serious.

Do you see it more likely down the line that you and him will end up thinking seriously about it, or is it more likely just a fun discussion for you guys?

It’s just a fun discussion.

Do you see your decision as being really independent of wherever other talented players in your class may be deciding to go to, or will you look at where other top guys are projected to go and factor that into your decision?

Whatever fits me. If I end up going to school with other talented players then so be it, but I’m not going to make my decision off what other people do because if other people make a decision to go to a school for one reason, I’m not necessarily going to school for the same reason.

Is it important to you to go into a program knowing you will likely be the main guy for them, especially offensively?

I kinda like both sides including playing with talented guys because of course everybody wants to win a national championship. Of course you can’t do that without talented players around you. At the same time, I would want to be a main focus, I don’t want to say that I want to be the main focus by being the only main guy on the team, I want to play inside and out.

What kind of role do you hope to have in college?

I kinda look at myself as a stretch four because I can play inside but I can also play on the perimeter a bit with my shooting.

So with that—do you have any opinions from watching college programs as to who does a good job with players at the position you want to play in college?

To be honest with you I don’t watch much college basketball until the Tournament. I don’t stay on college basketball often. I like watching the NBA, I really like Anthony Davis, that’s my favorite player and then I like Tim Duncan, Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin. They kinda play the position that I want to play in the future, they all play their position extremely well.

Out of the offers you have received so far, are there any you would consider your favorites at this point?

Just all the offers I’ve gotten from the top basketball schools, I haven’t visited so I don’t know much about it yet except for what the coaches tell me.

Do you see yourself leaning on your mom and dad for how you feel about your fit at your ultimate college decision?

I think it goes both ways, I’m going to look to them for what’s going to be my best decision, but at the end of the day, they are going to support me wherever I truly feel like I want to go. I haven’t thought at all about when I want to decide.

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