LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Wendell Carter entered the spring circuit as a top-five prospect in Scout.com's Class of 2017 rankings. The 6-foot-10 Atlanta, Ga. native has justified that ranking in two weekends on the EYBL circuit this month.
Playing with the high powered Georgia Stars, Carter's April has featured a number of strong outings, including an impressive double-double in a win over CP3 and top 2016 prospect Harry Giles.
The experience of playing 17U basketball for the first time on the big stage has been a learning experience for Carter. The Pace Academy big man is excited to be on the circuit and playing against some of the best players in the country.
"This being my first time playing 17U basketball, it's tough," Carter said. "I think I'm capable of adjusting my game and being able to play with bigger, faster, stronger players. My goal is to prepare myself mentally. Out-think them. Do something that they can't do [mentally] and then out-muscle them. Doing that will open up everything that I'm capable of doing like shooting, dribbling. If I can wear them out, then I'll be going out on top."
The mental part of the game is something you'll hear Carter talk a lot about. While many other players his age talk about working on physical moves and skill development, Carter can often be heard talking about building confidence or understanding proper ways to approach the game. Of course, there are some skills Carter is looking to work on this spring, but if those aren't working, he's looking to go back to what works with his game.
"I want to work on dribbling and shooting more. I can shoot pretty good but I feel like I don't have great confidence with it," Carter said. "That's one thing I have to work on: my confidence. If ever I don't have that confidence, I go to things that I know I can do well like run the floor, get putbacks, all of the other stuff."
Carter also stressed that he's looking into aspects of his game besides scoring and rebounding. Now that he's starting to receive consistent double teams in the post, he's working on reading defenses. On the defensive end, he realizes opposing offenses are putting him in high ball-screen situations to test his ability to hedge screens and recover.
"I think I'm a really good passer [but I'm working even more on that]." Carter said. "Open-court defense. That's one thing I do every day. Working on my lateral quickness."
Another learning tool for Carter is watching some of his favorite players. The Georgia native is particularly fond of Tim Duncan because of his approach to the game and he's also closely monitoring a recent college basketball big man so he can continue to get better on the defensive end.
"I really admire Tim Duncan because when you see him play it doesn't seem like he's playing as hard, but he out-thinks everyone. He gets to certain spots on the floor where he knows where he can hit a shot or sets great screens that get other people open that will then get him open," Carter said. "And I also like Willie Cauley-Stein. He doesn't always look for his jumper, but he does everything that his teammates won't do. I think that he plays phenomenal open-court defense. He rebounds really well."
It also helps Carter's development that he's practicing every week against two highly-touted Class of 2016 big men in Abdul Ado and Udoka Azubuike. Both big men currently rate as top-25 prospects in Scout.com's 2016 rankings.
"Both of them are like monsters. We go at it," Carter said. "I really do appreciate them being apart of [the Georgia Stars]. I just really appreciate them coming to this team and putting together this great team so that we can work together and do great things together."
On the recruiting front, things are still early in the process for Carter, since he can't speak to coaches on his own yet. He claimed scholarship offers from Auburn, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Texas A&M but he also knows that North Carolina has shown some early interest.
"I think UNC is showing a lot of interest. There may be some schools I don't mention that are showing a lot of interest because they're not able to contact me yet," Carter said.
Carter doesn't have any sort of visits planned or a timeline for cutting a list at the current moment. He's just focused on playing with the Stars this spring and summer and continuing to get better. With the way he's started on the EYBL this spring, Carter remains on track for All-American status.
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