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Challenges Fuel UNC Commitment Andrew Platek's Competitive Fire

What is North Carolina getting in new commitment Andrew Platek? Northfield Mount Hermon head coach John Carroll explains.

How has Andrew grown in the year since you began coaching him?
He was a very high-volume shooter at his high school because he had to be. He was really the only Division 1 player at the school. He shot between 25 and 30 times a game. He transferred over to us and the transition for him was to play with more Division 1 players. He had to get used to other really talented players and what we stressed was that he had to become more efficient with his shots. We didn’t want to see his points drop as a part of being more efficient, we wanted the same production just with fewer touches. That was an adjustment for sure and he hit it out of the park for us. His shot selection became very good and I think that’s what we saw in EYBL when he led the country in 3-point shooting percentage because he valued the quality of the shot over the quantity of the shots.

He ended up being a great teammate and his competitive fire was always there, that just rose even higher when we got him. He makes the play that has to be made, whether it’s defensively or offensively. He’s a high level kid as far as IQ and competitive spirit.

Why do you think he dislikes the notion of being known solely as a shooter?
It’s the competitiveness. He doesn’t want to be unprepared for the moment for which the game asks. He is prepared to be a shooter, for sure. He wants to be equally prepared to be the person that has to make that great pass or lock down his man or be a high level rebounder, which he is. I don’t think that’s coming from anything but being the most prepared competitor he can be. He wants to answer the bell when it’s rung, not just when he has an open shot.

How involved were you with his recruitment?
With the North Carolina process, he really locked in with them. My role is to help him see the facts for what they are. I’ve never advised a kid to go to a particular school or against going to a particular school. I provide the facts as I see them and leave the opinion to the kid to digest those facts. What we call it is “the easiest, hardest decision” they’ll make the rest of their lives. Our role is to give them the tools to learn how to make a decision – how to navigate a very difficult process so he can learn what job to take and learn to buy a house and we use the recruiting process as an introduction to those things.

What were the facts about North Carolina?
It was really simple. There are a lot of boxes that get checked by a lot of schools – great, beautiful campus, terrific league, great history – he had a lot of schools that could say that. The bottom line for Andrew was he wanted the greatest challenge and he wanted the most talented teammates. That really put North Carolina above. It’s as great a challenge as you’re going to get and the quality of the teammates, statistically, it’s just more and more evidence that North Carolina has elite talent as far as who his teammates will be. Once he figured out that was his bottom line, I think that’s why a decision came sooner than we expected, because we expected him to take some official visits.

The limitations he might have athletically, do those concern you? Do they concern him? Are there any limitations?
You hate to call a kid sneaky athletic, but he’s a terrific athlete. I don’t think it’s a limitation. I think people will be surprised by that. His style of play isn’t to rise above and dunk on people. He’s very strong and an above average athlete. He averaged five rebounds per game in our league at 6-3… that exemplifies what I’m saying. His IQ is off the charts and any deficiency he has athletically, which I don’t think there is much, he makes up with his IQ. He’s an unbelievably intelligent basketball player. The reason he’s had such an easy and dramatic transition to our school is because he’s incredibly coachable. If the North Carolina coaches think there is an improvement to be made, all they have to do is make the suggestion and Andrew is going to run with it.

How competitive is the New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC) AAA?
It’s considered the best basketball league in the country. We’ve had 15 draft picks out of our league in the last three years. This year we competed against McDonald’s All-Americans, we beat the Dallas (Texas) API team. The team we beat in the New England championships had players going to UConn and Villanova. Mitch McGary, T.J. Warren, the list goes on and on. At our school, we have 20 kids playing Division 1, the last two years we’ve had the captains at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Vermont and Michigan. The talent level he sees on a daily basis is tremendous. There will easily be 15 Division 1 kids on our team. The transition to playing with other Division 1 players (in college) will be seamless; obviously it’s all relative because the level will be higher because it’s a team full of North Carolina guys. But the preparation, it’s as close to college as you can get to without actually being in college. It’s very difficult to call us a high school.

How influential was assistant coach C.B. McGrath in Andrew’s decision to attend UNC?
He was great. He’s a great connector with kids, highly intelligent and his work ethic came through. I think he’s thoughtful in his evaluations and I think he’s brave enough to believe his eyes. I think so many coaches ask 'What’s this kid ranked? Who else is recruiting him? What other offers does he have?' He didn’t ask any of those questions. He is one of those coaches that’s brave enough to believe their eyes and he saw what Andrew was doing and saw it multiple times, and he believed it. There’s less and less courage happening with those kinds of decisions, and it was great to see C.B. during the process.

Why do you think there is a gap between what the coaches at Indiana, Miami, Stanford, UNC and the Ivy League see in Andrew and what talent evaluators and scouts believe?
The way we talk about it is we use the idea that some kids are a tweet, some are a magazine article and some kids are a book. (Stanford sophomore center) Josh Sharma, who I coached, seven feet tall, runs like a deer, unbelievable athletic, he’s a tweet. You just need to see him one time and it’s clear he’s a high level kid.

Then you have someone like (Northwestern sophomore forward) Aaron Falzon, a 6-8 perimeter shooter who started for Northwestern this year. It took a while for him to get highly ranked because people needed to see him over and over again; people had questions about whether he could rebound or whether he was tough enough.

Then I had a kid named (Penn freshman) A.J. Brodeur, unranked by everyone but first team all-league in a great conference, he’s a book. He needed to be seen 20 times.

And in Andrew’s case, he’s more of the magazine article. He’s been seen a bunch, but if evaluators and scouts don’t see him eight or 10 times they don’t get the appreciation for the fact that he’s athletic, defends well and is very efficient. That’s an appreciation you don’t get in four or five evaluations, and that’s not a knock on those guys. It’s an imperfect profession, for sure, and it’s really tough to get rankings right I think, unless you’re seeing kids 15 to 20 times each and what evaluator can possibly do that?

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