Last fall, Caracter left St. Patrick's High School, and transferred to Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts, in part to shore up his academic standing and increase his chances to qualify for college. That move appears to have paid off for both Caracter and the Cardinals.
"I'm going to make it (academically), I'm already qualified," said Caracter, who confirmed that he has achieved a qualifying standardized test score. "All I have to do now is graduate and get my diploma."
Caracter said spending the year away from his family and New Jersey home helped him mature on and off the court.
"My whole thing with the academics is that sometimes I wouldn't have a good relationship with the teacher or was just lazy with my work," admitted Caracter. "Going to prep school gave me time to grow because I was living on my own and I had to make my own decisions."
"In a way (prep school) wasn't good for me basketball-wise because of the whole playing situation, but maturity-wise I think it will help," Caracter added. "It helped me as a person to grow and make sure I followed through with my school work and things like that. In that way, it benefited me living on my own without my family being there."
Caracter ran the court well and had his
outside jumpshot working during
Thursday's one hour practice session at
Manual High School.
Caracter will team with future Louisville teammate Edgar Sosa this weekend. Last weekend, Caracter teamed with another U of L signee, Earl Clark, in the Roundball Classic where he earned team MVP honors after scoring 16 points.
"I just went out there and my shot was falling," Caracter said. "I felt pretty good – my leg has been sore. I think I surprised a lot of people because in practice we were getting smacked 43-10, and it wasn't looking too good for the West team. But we came out there and we only lost by eight. I played a pretty good game and got the MVP honors."
While most of the All-Star's arrived in Louisville Thursday afternoon, Caracter got into town Wednesday night.
"I got in last night," he said. "I just stayed at the hotel, relaxed and got ready for the weekend."
Caracter's family will also be on hand this weekend to watch Derrick's first game in Freedom Hall Saturday night.
"I'm looking forward to playing in Louisville," he said. "I think it's going to be a good game. I just want to have fun and give the fans a good show."
As for next season, Caracter believes he can help Louisville get back into the NCAA Tournament.
"I watched more than half of their games this year," Caracter said. "I don't know how I felt about their season. The coaches were telling me that their inside presence wasn't as strong as they would have liked it to be. I think they did alright with what they had, but they definitely weren't as good as the Final Four team."
"I think I can bring an inside presence and I'll do whatever it takes to win games," Caracter added. "I can promise we'll make a big improvement next year from this year's team."
And first up for Caracter upon arriving in Louisville this summer will be to drop some unneeded weight, though he looked and moved well on the court Thursday afternoon.
"The first thing I'm going to do when I get there is lose 20-25 pounds to be able to play my full game," said Caracter. "I think next year I'll be able to offer Louisville an inside-outside game because I can pass the ball and rebound. I'm looking forward to contributing next year. I think Coach Pitino is going to push me to the next level and make me a better player."