No shock: Wendell Carter picks Duke over UGA and Tech

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Wendell Carter Jr., Duke-bound. (Photo courtesy of Fred Assaf/Pace Academy)

The state’s biggest basketball recruit in an overstuffed year for local talent — 12 in-state products are ranked in ESPN Recruiting’s top 100 — picked Duke. Wendell Carter Jr. announced his decision in a James-Bond-ish video produced by Bleacher Report. (You might find it overdone. I found it amusing.)

This is not a surprise. When I ventured to Pace Academy last winter to see him play, the consensus was that, even though North Carolina and Kentucky were making pitches, Duke was the clear leader — with Harvard as a long-shot possibility. Even as Carter pared his list to four finalists, two of which were Georgia and Georgia Tech, the feeling remained that it was Duke, then Harvard, then the locals. Now it’s Duke and Duke only.

Which is great for Duke. ESPN ranks Carter as the nation’s No. 3 prospect, and he could well help the Blue Devils win a seventh NCAA title — assuming the sixth arrives in April — for Mike Krzyzewski. He’s surely yet another one-and-done in the lengthening Duke line of Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers, Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones and Brandon Ingram. (There’ll be more come spring.) If you’re only going to spend a few months on a college campus, odds are you’d spend them in Durham, N.C., or Lexington, Ky.

Back to those 12 Georgians in ESPN’s top 100: Two have picked Duke, two Auburn; one has picked Alabama, another Florida, another Louisville and another USC. The only one to pick an in-state school is small forward Rayshaun Hammonds of Norcross High, who’s the most heralded Bulldogs signee since Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in 2011. According to ESPN, Hammonds ranks 39th nationally and fourth among Georgians. He’s a good player. But he’s only one good player.

Per ESPN, none of the three uncommitted Georgia products lists Tech or UGA as a possibility. Meaning: Even with the Peach State ranking as the most fertile of soils, no local program is going to make hay — apologies for mixing agricultural metaphors — off the in-state crop.

That’s also no surprise. It has been happening for a while now. Still, in this bountiful year, it is a major disappointment. Of the programs ranked among Rivals’ top 10 recruiting classes for 2017, four — Alabama, Duke, Auburn and Louisville — have landed players from this state. Duke and Louisville you can understand. But Alabama and Auburn?

Reader Comments 0

8 comments
PSU92
PSU92

Wish the NBA would change their rule and let these kids go straight to the NBA as the college game is much better without the 1 year kids that take easy classes just to stay eligible and never learn a thing.

Ychromosome
Ychromosome

Don't underestimate Pearl's recruiting at Auburn. There's a reason he's lost jobs elsewhere.

UpWithTheWhiteAndGold
UpWithTheWhiteAndGold

Fine with me. I'd rather cheer for a 4-year guy that is going to work hard and get better each year. (Georges Hunt, Harpring, Hammonds, etc.) 

ZanesMule
ZanesMule

kentucky, duke and kansas will always get the 5 star, one and done superstar recruits---other schools get the left overs---this will never change.

Stinger2
Stinger2

He has said he is one and done. For GT, it would have helped their image and recruiting. However, they would not be improved that much next year to make a run even for an ACC title. Also, this guy

could be a major distraction given his demeanor and outward 

self-serving statements.  

NorwegianBlue
NorwegianBlue

@Stinger2 You couldn't be more wrong about the kid's character. I didn't watch the video, but I've seen him up close for three years and he's as humble and grounded as he can be. He's also incredibly unselfish on the court. Just watch a video of last year's state championship game.