Inside The Visit: Wendell Carter

The Duke coaches wasted no time in visiting the top target on the board in the class of 2017 this week when they dropped in on Georgia big man Wendell Carter.  Soon after the visit ended we had a chance to get an inside look at the visit, the discussions, and where this high major recruitment is headed.

How are things going for the family now that it’s senior year for Wendell?

Kayla Carter, mother of Wendell Carter:  Yeah, senior year is here and things are going great. He’s getting going full speed with his AP courses, so it’s been a good change and he’s making that adjustment he said to a higher level of work in those classes.

Is this is first go-round with AP courses?

Well actually it’s his first time taking two at once, he’s taking two AP courses and an honors course too. He’s taking AP Science and AP Human Geography and Honors Calculus. It’s very rigorous and that’s also with Spanish-3 too. He wanted to attack it, so we’ll see how it goes.

Has he taken either the ACT or SAT?

He’s taking them both. He’s taken the pre-ACT but he took the SAT, he got an 1100 on the SAT but that was more just to lay a baseline with the test. He just took it without doing any kind of prep for it, he just went in and took it and now he knows what has to do in terms of preparation. I think he’s going to take the ACT sometime in December, November, somewhere in there.

Is he doing any of the same extra-curricular activities through his school like he did last year?

Oh yes, he’s in advanced acting, so I’m sure he’s going to be in the senior play this year. He likes acting a lot.

Obviously for players of Wendell’s caliber, September is a time period with lots of either in-home or at school visits—which programs have been visiting him in those settings?

Oh yes we had Duke in home recently and then he’s got the Harvard official visit on Friday. Then the University of Georgia and Cal-Berkeley are coming up Wednesday and Thursday I believe. We’re going to do school visits with them because it’s easier. Georgia’s been to the house already and then with Cal Berkeley we’re kinda looking at the schedule because Wendell is working out and doing other things, so we’re not sure of the schedule yet with them.

Have you guys started the planning process for the Cal Berkeley official visit yet?

Oh yeah we’re going up on, we’ve already got a date for that. We’ve scheduled it but we haven’t started planning for it yet. I think it’s the last weekend in September, that’s when we go there.

So you just had the Duke in home visit, then you have the Harvard official visit this weekend and then the Cal Berkeley official visit potentially at the end of this month, are there any other visit plans in the works for in between the two official visits?

That’s it besides the University of Georgia and Cal Berkeley coming to the school this week. Then we have the official visit scheduled to Duke for the weekend of the 22nd of October.

Is there anybody else outside of the group you just mentioned who are trying to work with you to schedule either an in-home visit or at school visit or an official visit at this point ?

I think the other school visit is, he’s got two more but he’s kinda up in the air for the last two official visits. He’s trying to be really particular in working with Kentucky, which is kinda a little different. It’s just a little different with them, they are kind of  quiet. They’ve been quiet since they made the offer which is kinda interesting to us. We’re talking to Wendell about that, and it’s kinda different. So we’re trying to decide and he’s trying to make up his mind as he wants to cut his list down to a final five really soon. Hopefully he’ll have that done by the end of this month or the first of October. We’re just kinda not really wanting to waste anyone’s time, and just seeing what Wendell really wants to do. He’s still got Kentucky, North Carolina, University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Arizona that he has yet to see. But from out of the five official visits, he’s only got two left to take outside of Duke, Cal and Harvard. He’s just gotta make a decision on what he wants to do with those last two visits.

Based on that last group of five schools you mentioned, are there any that Wendell is either more likely or less likely to strongly consider taking an official visit to their program?

No, it’s kinda tough, he’s having a tough time deciding. Those are five great schools.  It’s just a tough decision.

Which of those five programs would you say are making a consistent and recent effort to communicate with you guys and Wendell?

University of Georgia has been the best and then Georgia Tech after that. The other three are about the same, they haven’t talked as much with us.

So out of North Carolina, Arizona and Kentucky—when’s the last time you remember having a conversation with any of them?

Wow, the most recent has been Kentucky last month. Talked to UNC, we haven’t talked to UNC and I haven’t talked to Arizona ever, they’ve only talked with Wendell Jr. Now that I think about it, I haven’t talked with Coach Roy or Coach McGrath since July, it’s been since July.

Based on what you just described about Kentucky, Arizona and North Carolina, are those potentially realistic options under consideration by Wendell and the family for his decision-making process ?

I’m not sure. I can’t say and I only say that because I really don’t know how he feels about them. A lot of coaches are intimidated by Coach K and we’re kinda dealing with a little bit of an affect from that.  So, we’re trying to not let that be a factor for him. It’s a factor for some of the coaches, but it’s not a factor for him. There’s some coaches that are intimidated by Coach K it seems and media rhetoric as well.  It’s like’s like coaches have really started listening to the media instead of to us, so we aren’t putting a lot of energy into it, and we don’t think about it a lot because we know if Wendell decides that he wants to go to Wake Forest even if it’s not on his list, he can decide to do that if he wants to.  We’re trying not to be affected in the way some of the coaches appear to have been affected.  Honestly at first it really didn’t matter to us as parents because the coaches were communicating with us, but it seems as though that they listen to the media more than they listen to us, and it’s really unfair. They are listening more to somebody’s opinion of the decision that Wendell is 100 percent going to Duke while we’re telling them that we haven’t made a decision. Then we’re getting asked about those predictions and we’re telling them, "why aren’t you talking with the person who made the prediction?"  So those are some of the conversations we’ve had and it’s been kinda testy sometimes, because for me it’s kind of whiny from some of the coaches.

At the end of the day we try not to let it affect things and we can’t dwell on it because he’s only going to pick one school anyways. If they aren’t interested anymore, then that’s fine, so that’s where we are kinda are, Wendell hasn’t dropped his interest yet, we’re just kinda waiting for him to let the interest go because if there isn’t a lot of interest in you, then you should let your interest go in them, whether you have an offer or not. That’s kinda how we’re talking about it with him, but we’re also being patient and giving him the time to clear certain things from his mind. We talk about it a lot, probably weekly and we tell him that he doesn’t have to be in a hurry, but when he decides, let’s just make the decision and be done with all the extras. We just tell him you will know when you have the feeling and just go with it if you do.

Let me follow up on that if I can.  You’ve been very vocal in past interviews in terms of how you feel about Harvard as a program and school that’s recruiting Wendell, but you are also giving him space to figure out how he feels about each of the programs recruiting him. With that in mind, what have you observed about how Wendell appears to feel about Harvard and their recruitment of him?

It has intrigued him enough that he’s very excited about the visit. He’s definitely looking forward to it and he’s excited about the option. So we’ll see, I don’t know how their recruitment goes on their official visits, but I’m sure they will be impressive and I’m sure he’ll have a decision to make. We talk to Coach Amaker and one of his assistants regularly. He’s aware of the prestige of a Harvard education and being a Harvard student. He’s aware of what it means to be a member of the Ivy League and all of that which is the weight that it holds with him and with all of us.

Ok let’s switch gears to the recent Duke in-home visit, how were things different with this visit since Duke has been in your home before for a visit?

Wendell Carter Sr.:  Well Coach K was actually able to be here for this one since the last time he wasn’t able to due to his hip surgery. That’s a big way the equation changed with this one was he was here. Last time it was with Capel.

What did Coach K have to say to you guys during the in-home visit?

Wendell Carter Sr.: He talked a lot about what the school has to offer and the value they have to add to Wendell as far he could make an impact at the school and for himself. They put some things on the table about the kind of impact he could have, but nothing was really too out of pocket so to speak.

What were the major take-aways to this in-home visit with Duke from what you heard from the staff?

Wendell Carter Sr.: I think the bottom line really is they did lay out some good information and the bottom line is Wendell really enjoys it and it’s going to come down to where does Wendell want to be for basketball and for school.

Kylia Carter: and they really do have a great plan that we talked about and they also emphasized how serious they have been in recruiting him, they are letting him know that there is a place for him there at Duke, they are very intentional.

How did they describe what Wendell’s “place” would be in the program if he were to go to Duke?

Kylia: A lot of it was how he would, they have a high expectation for him, they think they are going to be able to get his best basketball out of him yet and they want to help him develop even more with different parts of the game including how he does his footwork, they want to help him improve and be an all-around player on both ends of the court that doesn’t have a position, he’d just be a player.

Wendell Carter Sr.: We didn’t get too specific into the recruiting class other than we know about the different players they are recruiting in Wendell’s class. We inquired about other players they are looking at, but that’s not going to make a major decision as to whether Wendell goes to Duke or not, we’re not really concerned about it.

Kylia: Yeah they mentioned a few names of guys they are recruiting including friends of his like Mohamed Bamba, Kevin Knox, Gary Trent, Matt Coleman and Quade Green, those are all players he’s friends with.

Do you guys feel like what you have heard from the Duke staff recently has either confirmed or changed how you guys feel about them as a program?

Kylia: No, not really, we’ve always had a very high regard for them. We think that they have been and are an outstanding program.

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