Inside the Visit: Wendell Carter, Jr.

One of, if not the top target in the class of 2017 for Duke is five star big man Wendell Carter, Jr.  Last week the Blue Devils had a chance to meet with Carter and his family for a visit.  Soon after we spoke with Carter’s parents to get their opinions of the Blue Devil pitch, a current status report of the recruitment, and more.

How have things gone with Wendell’s junior year starting up?

Wendell Carter Sr.: It’s been going great, we’ve been making our transition from our summer expeditions and are just anticipating high school ball and preparing for that.

 

Kylia Carter: Wendell has been working really hard training and in the weight room and of course we’re going to USA Basketball on the 2nd of October. That will conclude the travel stuff and then he’ll be ready to win a state championship. That’s his goal for the year.

 

The group of guys at the USA Camp that Wendell is going to is really extensive, what are your thoughts on him having the opportunity to go there and be a part of it?

Kylia Carter: It’s rather impressive, don’t you think? I think they have every top player in the country is going to be there. There’s juniors and seniors and sophomores who will be there.

 

Wendell Carter Sr.: It’s definitely an experience, I’ve talked about it with Wendell and we knew Wendell was probably going to be a really good player, but it’s a humbling experience and it’s a chance of a lifetime. Personally speaking I’m still in awe of it and I’m just trying to soak it in. Junior is humble about it, he’s not flamboyant about it, he’s just thankful for the opportunity to be there.

 

Kylia Carter: I feel the same way as his dad with this experience. We are just very thrilled to have this opportunity and we even get a little misty-eyed when we think about it and talk about it. It has just been an amazing opportunity. It’s hard to put into words, when you are representing your country as well as they did and as parents just sitting back watching your son and the other kids his age do something with such honor and dignity—it’s just heart-warming. It’s just a great feeling.

 

What do you think it says about Wendell as a person and a player that he has the opportunity to go and be a part of the USA Basketball Camp coming up?

Wendell Carter Sr.: I speak for my wife as well, but we really try to instill certain values and certain things associated with our journey that we’ve been through in life and we try to implement those things with him. He’s been real instrumental in taking those things and applying them and to be honest, I don’t know what else to say here except he’s a great kid, he does great things and the only thing I gotta get after him to do is go clean his room (haha).

 

Speaking of traveling, when you look back over this past summer, how did you see Wendell grow as a person and a player through those experiences?

Kylia Carter: The cool thing that we told Wendell that we noticed as parents and former players ourselves, the thing that we noticed with him is that he got better and better every single week and event that we went to. That spoke a lot about him as an individual player as well as a team player. He really put forward the effort to get better and to help him team, whatever team he was playing on. Of course sometimes he was playing with his EYBL team, then he played with his USA Team, then he played with the Team Camps and then he went over the Bahamas and played with the Bahamas Select Team with the EYBL Select Team and each time, he improved in his game and he improved during the game and he helped his team do well and he helped his teammates out. It just speaks to him and his character, as well as his athletic ability.

 

With working out on his game, what kind of things has he been doing from a skill development and workout perspective?

Kylia Carter: He’s been doing a lot of work in the weight room and dad is at work while he’s doing his after-school stuff, so what I do is I go up and watch him do his skill workout and I don’t go in the weight room because that’s kinda “guy territory” haha, but I peeked in there a couple of times and they do a lot of core work and a lot of total body strength which is really good. He’s developing his lean muscle, that’s developing really well and his upper body development is really going well. He’s really improving and when you look at his arms and shoulders, you can’t help buy say Wow, you are kinda spreading out son.

 

I’d imagine the grocery budget is going through the roof, am I right?

Kylia Carter: You better believe it. Every time we turn around we are looking for a meal, haha.

 

Have you guys taken recent measurements of Wendell with his height and weight and wingspan and whatnot in light of his workouts?

Kylia Carter: The last one that we did was at the Bahamas. We haven’t done one since he got back but his wingspan is 7’3, he’s almost 6’10 and he weighs 250 pounds.

 

From a goal perspective with his workouts and skill development in preparing for his season—what are the main goals you would say with that?

Kylia Carter: The major thing I see him doing right now is skill work. His dad and I were talking about it and that’s really the development of his perimeter game. The coaching staff at his school is really working a lot on his perimeter shooting, moving without the ball to get to a perimeter shot. If you have watched him play much, you can tell that his interior game is definitely his strong suit and he works well without the ball inside and now they are trying to expand that to be able to work around the 3 point line, about 15-20 feet out or so. He’s doing a lot of jump shooting and he’s looking good, he’s looking good. He’s learning to be ok with missing, that’s an issue he’s had in the past where if he missed a couple, he wouldn’t shoot it anymore. Now he’s learning to adjust that a bit and be ok with missing a few shots.

 

Is Wendell or his coaches or trainers keeping track of his shooting stats when they are doing those shooting drills?

Kylia Carter: That’s interesting that you mentioned that.  Coach came to me yesterday and said they are going to start keeping his practice stats for shooting range and hits and misses. So that’s a new thing, they just started doing that.

 

What sparked them wanting to do that?

Kylia Carter: I don’t know, I should ask that, but I don’t know.

 

With this being the time of year that college coaches can come in and watch player workouts, what coaches have you noticed showing up to watch Wendell practice?

Wendell Carter Sr.: Well I had a nice birthday present on Monday, we had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Coach K and the head coach from Florida State, Florida was also there.

 

Kylia Carter: Florida State, Iowa State, LSU, Vanderbilt, Cal State, the first team coach to come into our school on the very first day of recruiting was the University of Georgia. Coach Roy Williams from the University of North Carolina came on the second day and that’s all that actually been into the building. I’m trying to think, I don’t want to leave anybody out. Xavier was there and Georgia Tech.

 

Did you guys see anybody from the Kentucky staff during that period?

Kylia Carter: No, not yet but they will be here.

 

What’s the communication been like with them recently?

Kylia Carter: Not as much as it was over the summer. Strangely enough, not as much as it was over the summer. We’re ok because honestly we get enough calls.

 

Wendell Carter Sr.: Yeah we’re really looking at two more years with this so I’m sure it’s going to get more hectic.

 

Did the Kentucky staff give any indication on how they wanted to go about their communication with you through the summer going into the fall?

Wendell Carter Sr.: Yeah we spoke with them when we first got back from Argentina. We hear that everybody is going to pursue us and I guess there’s no blueprint with who is going to call and when they are going to call, they just said they’d be in touch and we really, in my opinion it really hasn’t taken off yet but we do want to put parameters and guidelines there where we’ll have an opportunity to speak with them and with Wendell’s schedule-we want to honor that as well. So we really haven’t gotten in-depth into that yet.

 

What kind of guidelines or structure are you guys looking to put into place with what you just mentioned?

Wendell Carter Sr.: With his schedule it’s hard, we leave the house around six in the morning and then after practice and so on and so forth, he gets home a little bit later and he has homework with the kind of school that he’s in, he has to put that work in and he’s not finishing it sometimes until around 9 or 10 o’clock at night, so some nights where he gets home earlier than the others—we can setup a time for him to talk with a few coaches that want to talk with him and we can deal with that accordingly.

 

It sounds then like you guys as parents are doing a lot more of the communicating with the college coaches just based on the demands of his schedule—is that a good assessment?

Wendell Carter Sr.: Yeah, yeah we’re new at it a bit. I know what it was like being recruited coming out of high school and college and with playing overseas, my wife and I recognize it. So we really want him to be a kid to say the least, come home and do your work but also have some leisure time, you don’t always have to be bothered by telephone calls and those types of things. It’s a good parameter.

 

How has the communication changed with the with the coaching staffs with you and Wendell now that you are done with the summer recruiting period and you are into his high school year? Has there been a big change with either how much you are communicating with coaches or on the topics you are covering with them?

Wendell Carter Sr.: Yeah I think some of the coaches, it’s not a huge thing, there’s been some coaches we’ve had the opportunity to sit down with and have a conversation and ask questions that we would love to have answered. Now I would say we’re at a point and we’ve done certain things and we have the visits coming up and we’ll be able to look at the campuses and try to narrow it down and see what they are like. Most of the conversations we’ve had are about the same.

 

The questions you’ve been asking to the various schools, have they been unique to each program, or are they pretty much the same across the board?

Kylia Carter: They are typically the same questions and all of the responses are typically been the same too. We haven’t found, we were talking other day that we’re going to start finding some specific things to start asking but right now it’s so early and we’re so new to the process, we are kinda keeping it general so we can start making some comparisons and cutting his list down and that kind of thing.

 

You mentioned there were some upcoming visits.  Do you guys have firm dates planned yet?

Wendell Carter Sr.: We actually don’t have any confirmed dates yet, that’s what we’re looking at because we’ve spoken to coaching staffs and we would love to start that process and to have an opportunity to go see of these schools and really start letting Wendell take a closer look and seeing what he likes and doesn’t like. He’s gonna have to make that decision and we’re going to have to help him but we don’t have anything lined up yet.

 

Are there a certain group of programs that are you considering first for those initial visits when they are setup?

Kylia Carter: Yes, we are going to do drivable schools that are within five or six hours from where we are. We’re not going to drive any further than that and we’re not going to take any flights for this. It’s just going to be drivable schools that he’s interested in. Duke, North Carolina cluster, we’re going to do the whole cluster there with Wake Forest, UNC, Duke and North Carolina State. We will go to the University of Georgia and also the University of Alabama. We may check out Auburn as well and Ole Miss, my alma mater. Of course we’ve seen Georgia Tech but he hasn’t been on the campus to see the student body and interact with them, so we will do that. That’s probably it because those are all the major drivable schools in our area. We are going to do Vandy as well, absolutely.

 

You mentioned Harvard before as a potential visit opportunity if I remember correctly—is that still on the table?

Kylia Carter: Yes, that will be our first official visit.

 

What’s the background with them being involved in Wendell’s recruitment and what led you guys want to have Harvard host Wendell for his first official visit ?

Kylia Carter: Because academics has been a priority for us from day one, we definitely wanted to give one of the most prestigious academic schools in the country a serious look and with Tommy Amaker being the head coach as a former Duke player and just kind of a disciple of Coach K, we had a feeling that that basketball program could also and should be considered because you look at that with their academics, I don’t see how you couldn’t consider that an option. It’s definitely an option for him and we definitely want him to take a good look at it and make sure that with it being that far from home, we really wanted him to get a close look at and know how you feel about it based on you have seen it, not just what you have heard. You’ve seen it, you’ve talked to the coaches with the program, you’ve seen it, they aren’t just on the list just because.

 

How far back does the communication go with Coach Amaker and his staff?

Kylia Carter: Oh goodness, it was back before, I think it was back during the holidays, maybe around November or December. It was last year and it was during basketball season last year and I’m trying to remember when it was, it seems like it was maybe December/January, sometime in there.

 

What’s the communication been like with them since that initial contact?

Kylia Carter: Not much at all. We told them that we were interested and they called his coach and got his transcripts and we haven’t talked with them since. I think they recruit differently than other schools, so we’ll see.

 

So with you wanting Harvard to be Wendell’s first official visit, do you already have a sense of when you are looking to do that?

Kylia Carter: We don’t even know what the process is for official visits, we thought that you could take them as soon as junior year, is that true? We were thinking he wouldn’t be able to go until he became a senior.

 

Are you treating any other schools with the same consideration that you are with Harvard that you know at this point that they will host Wendell for an official visit ? 

Kylia Carter: That’s a good question. Duke would definitely be an official visit because Coach K is considered the best coach in college basketball according to newspaper articles and reports, he definitely deserves an official visit from him. The other three, that’s the only two that are for sure right now, there are others that just because of the status of the school and the status of the coaching we may look at.

 

Let’s dive into the Duke interest some, you mentioned they came and visited recently—what was the communication with them like during this recent visit and what’s the communication been like prior to that visit?

Kylia Carter: They are, they do what they do very well. They recruit well, they communicate very well and they, I don’t what else to say. They do what they do very well. They are a quality program and they work, they do well.

 

Based on the conversations with Duke, what has helped form that opinion for you?

Wendell Carter Sr.: I would say that Coach K’s track record, it speaks for itself. Him coaching professional athletes at the USA Basketball level, you have to be elite to be able to deal with so many different types of egos and being successful in that, that says a lot. When you look at that and then you see that he’s got a very successful program at Duke, he’s been there 30 plus years, so obviously he produces numbers, elite athletes and as far as I can tell his track record speaks for itself.

 

When the Duke staff visited with you guys a few days ago, what did you have the opportunity to discuss with them?

Kylia Carter: It was a long visit and they got the opportunity to tell us a lot about Duke, Duke the University, the quality education that it is, the fact that Wendell will have the opportunity to receive an education from a very prestigious institution that is world-renowned. They talked about the basketball program and the long-term success they have with the program and the longevity of course with Coach K and his influence. He’s just an interesting guy, he just has great character and great moral standards. Other coaches have come across well I must say, but we find it very interesting that a coach of his caliber also has time to give personal attention to the players and even to the people he’s recruiting. The fact that he was there and he was the only head coach in the building. All the other coaches there were assistants but he and his assistants, both of his assistant coaches were there with him to talk with us and Wendell. And the same was true with the University of Georgia and the University of North Carolina. I will say that they are very impressive programs and they have very impressive programs. I said to all 3 of them in our interactions that they have been the first 3 head coaches to come and sit down and speak with us and the 3 of them have very good qualities and good programs and I think it’s pretty cool. I don’t think we could go wrong with any of those 3 choices in terms of mentors for our son.

 

Were there any particular reasons in your observations in your estimation why the Duke visit went for as long as it did?

Kylia Carter: No I don’t know how we ended up being there for so long, it was just a lot of information and of course our coaching staff from here was also there, so they talked about a few things with them just about coaching, that’s what stretched it out a bit.

 

What kind of questions did you guys have for the Duke staff when you met with them?

Wendell Carter Sr.: We asked as far as the program, nutrition, location of the dorms and how he commutes on campus. Some of the same things that we asked all the other coaches.

 

Based on what you heard from the Duke staff—do you feel like it sparked more questions for you to think about moving forward, or did you get addressed some of the major areas you were hoping to learn more about?

Kylia Carter: It was actually very general, we talked a lot about the school and where it stands and the great programs that are at the school. So we didn’t talk about any specific things that we would address once we narrow it down. We’re imagining and we’re not sure, we’re just being honest with you, but when that list is shorter, we’re going to come up more specific questions to address to specific schools as the list gets smaller. Right now it’s just so general, we don’t think about that and we just ask the same schools basically the same questions.

 

Wendell Carter Sr.: Yeah and to add to that, once we get on the campuses and I’m pretty sure our list will be shorter than longer, we’ll ask certain questions once we put eyes on the school and plus our son will have questions also.

 

Is there a vision you guys already have for when you want to do the first list cut down and how many schools you want on the list after that first cut?

Wendell Carter Sr.: Actually, my son and I had that conversation and he hasn’t put that in place yet, you can ask him about that also, but we’re going to give him a little time on that and not push him too much on that. Two years is a long time and a whole lot can happen, he can change his mind on some things, so we’re seeking his input also. It’s not going to be solely on our shoulders because like I said earlier, he’s going to be the one going to the school and making sure he has addressed what he needs to.

 

Kylia Carter: Yeah and we really don’t have to rush this, fortunately for him he’s got this whole year to look at that list and cut that list down to wherever it’s going to be cut down to by the end of the year and then we can move forward because there’s only 5 official visits he can take. We know one and two already, we’re going to Duke and we’re going to Harvard, so that leaves 3 others and at that point it’s going to be very specific choices of his. He’s expressed interest in California simply because he likes the state and there are a few programs there with Stanford and Cal State that he likes and he likes the state of California because he was able to go to a camp in California for the first time and he just liked the weather and the atmosphere, he thought it was real nice. So that looks it will be one of the contenders is those California schools.

 

How important is it to you guys that he take all five official visits before he decides?

Kylia Carter: Very, very important. At this point of the game right now and we may change our mind after we get through this whole process with the next year and once we’ve done a couple of unofficial visits our attitude may change, I don’t know, but right now we told him that we want him to take all 5 because we want his decision to be based on what he has seen, not what he has heard. It’s important that he go and see and hear what you are looking for and to be able to talk to players, talk to fans, talk to other people, we wouldn’t have any way to have contact with, he’ll be able to contact and touch with more people. We want him to be able to make his judgement based off what he’s seen and heard.

 

Wendell Carter Sr.: Also, I would say that another determining factor that happened to me when I was a player was with Clemson, Cliff Ellis was the coach and by the time I had graduated after I had committed, he had moved on so that dropped my scholarship, so we have to take our time with this process because a whole lot can happen.

 

For some players who take all five official visits has led to them waiting to sign until the Spring period of their senior year while others have chosen to sign early in November. Where do you guys think you are at with that at this point?

Wendell Carter Sr.: We, I have to take it back to we just want him to have the opportunity, we haven’t thought that far ahead. We really want him to be able to cover all bases of it and when he’s sure that he wants to sign early or commit early, whatever the case may be, we’re supportive of that but since it’s so early in the recruiting process-we are not going to jump the gun, we need his input and we need to know where he is in the decision-making process. Right now it’s just early for that.

 

With the upcoming unofficial visits to schools within driving distance—are you looking at doing those during the college basketball season, or are you looking at doing any of them before the high school season starts?

Wendell Carter Sr.: I think basketball season would be nice. We really would like to since it’s relevant is watch the coach interact with the players and see how the players are and that would be a good situation for Wendell to see, see how the process runs for that program. It would be ideal to be on campus and get the whole intake of the atmosphere of that particular program. His season is getting ready to start but we would love to make that work if we can.

 

Have you had any programs that have asked you to consider a specific date to come and visit them with the schools that are within driving distance?

Kylia Carter: Yes, we have been reminded that a good time for several schools is to come during their Midnight Madness and also during football game but we don’t do football games, Dad and I aren’t interested, Wendell is interested sometimes.

 

Does that extend to the Midnight Madness events that you’ve been invited to?

Kylia Carter: I don’t know, we’re kinda playing around with it but I don’t know.

 

Which programs have extended that invitation to come for their Midnight Madness events?

Kylia Carter: Kentucky, Duke, and North Carolina.  Georgia wants us to come for a football game. Think that was it.

 

Are you considering any of those offers?

Kylia Carter: We’re not sure yet.

 

Are there any new schools expressing interest in Wendell that weren’t there before?

Kylia Carter: Is Stanford on the list? They have called.

 

Have you had any additional helpful discussions with parents of players in Wendell’s class or parents of players who are either in college or out now lately?

Kylia Carter: No, we haven’t done that as much recently but we will get that opportunity when we go to USA.

Which parents are you either looking forward to meeting for the first time or spending some time with people you already know out there?

Kylia Carter: Well we love that we get to talk with the Trent’s and we get to talk to Deb Jones. We keep in touch with those two parents and a couple of other parent’s from the USA team, Jarred’s brother, Jarred Vanderbilt-we’ll get to see him again. Jordan Brown’s parents—we will get to talk with them again after we were in touch this summer.

 

How far back does the relationship go with the Trents and Debbie Jones?

Kylia Carter: USA, the mini camp last year. It’s been good just sharing about the processes we’re going forward. We’re really excited to talk with Debbie about how Tyus is transitioning to the NBA. We’ve talked a couple of times over the phone but we’re going to sit down and have a nice dinner so we can have an even better conversation. That’s going to be interesting I know to hear the ins and outs of that process. With the Trent’s we kinda share recruiting stories. Wendell and Gary Trent Jr have kinda put it out there that they want to play together, so they will probably do a couple of visits together. We’re going to try and coordinate that while we’re at USA, that’s what we’re planning on.

 

How much did Debbie discuss Tyus’s experience with Duke if at all?

Kylia Carter: Oh yeah, she’s talked to us a bit about that. They love Duke, oh my goodness, she loves Duke. They think very highly of them and their program and she said Tyus does as well. I thought that was interesting. She didn’t have anything bad to say about it at all and this was prior to us having conversations with Coach K or anything. She just started talking about Tyus at college when we were at USA and about how wonderful an experience Duke had been for Tyus. I’m going to try and come up with some specific questions to ask her more about that, I’m definitely looking forward to doing that.

 

From listening to you guys talk about Duke—it sounds like there’s a really serious consideration that you are giving to them as a program…

Wendell Carter Sr.: I think it all depends, to respond to that, it’s an elite program and in doing a little research and homework on the school-the things that I have seen that have gone on, it would be great, it’s just a pretty good program that seems like it has outstanding coaching. So in anybody’s book it would be great.

 

Kylia Carter: I would say the same thing, it’s a program that would rank highly on anybody’s list just because of who they are, but we definitely do not, everybody is still even in our book. There’s no, we can’t say there’s a front-runner aside from itself just being a front-runner type program and that’s just what Duke is.


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