NCAA: Carter-Williams Ready To Lead Syracuse
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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Last year Syracuse was loaded in the backcourt with Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters, and Brandon Triche, which did not leave much room for heralded freshman Michael Carter-Williams to crack the rotation. He only played 10 minutes a game, a major change for the McDonald’s All-American.
“I think it humbled me a lot,” Carter-Williams told HOOPSWORLD. “It was a great learning experience for me. There was a lot of frustrating times. That was probably the lowest I’ve been in my career. My confidence was bouncing around. It’ll help me stay strong for this season, knowing things can be worse and to stay strong and be a leader.”
While Carter-Williams’ confidence dwindled at times, the strong support system around him helped keep him level headed and on the right track as he heads into his sophomore season.
“[The coaches] always told me to stay ready no matter what,” Carter-Williams said. “A lot of times I took it as a good thing, but sometimes I took it as, yeah, I’m still not going to go in and this and that. I think what kept my confidence up was my coaches, but mostly my teammates because they always told me to stay strong and that next year they knew would be my time.”
With Jardine and Waiters gone, it is Carter-Williams’ time. He’s set to take over at the point guard position for the Orange this year. The way that he played at St. Andrew’s High School, where he averaged 24 points and five assists a game his senior year, would lead you to believe that he’s a score-first point guard, but that isn’t the case.
“My offseason was good. I put in a lot of work on the little things in my game trying to perfect everything,” Carter-Williams said. “Coming into my sophomore season I think I’m going to bring leadership to the team and just make sure everyone else does what they’re supposed to do because if I don’t make everyone else shine then our team is never going to work so I think that’s my job. By me doing that I think I’ll be doing what I need to do.
“In high school I was primarily a scorer because that’s what I needed to do. With this team we have a lot of scorers. Just for me to facilitate the ball and get everyone shots is my going to be my primary duty. I can also score the ball. I’m always going to be aggressive and take what the defense gives me. If I get hot that’s when I’ll start to score, I think my teammates and I understand that.”
What should really set Carter-Wiliams apart from the other point guards in the nation is his height. He measured in at 6’6 in shoes, giving him a couple inches on just about everyone he’ll be matched up against this season.
”I think that gives me an advantage,” Carter-Williams said. “Just my ability to create passing angles and to create shots I think is what separates me from a lot of point guards too. I also really take pride in my defense, that’s something I really look forward to this year.”
As far as goals are concerned, Carter-Williams admitted that it would be nice to contend for the Big East Player of the Year award and be on the all-conference first team, but the team goals are his primary focus. Although the Orange have to replace some big pieces in Jardine, Waiters, Kris Joseph, and Fab Melo, Carter-Williams still thinks the potential is there for the team to contend for a national championship.
“I know we lost a lot but we have a lot of veterans,” Carter-Williams said. “We saw what it takes to get there.”
Wells, Maryland Play The Waiting Game: Earlier this week former Xavier recruit Dez Wells, who was expelled from the school for a sexual assault charge that was so groundless even the prosecutor criticized Xavier for their decision, opted to transfer to Maryland. Memphis and Kentucky also made a run at him, but Maryland had the upper hand since they were the only school that could still get him into classes this semester.
The next step in the Wells saga is for Maryland to seek a waiver from the NCAA to make him eligible to play this year. It’s clearly stated in their rules that a player who transfers from one DI school to another because of disciplinary issues must sit out a full year. However, there is some optimism within the Maryland program that Wells’ unique situation could lead to him receiving a waiver. After all, Wells was not at fault and found innocent.
Regardless of what decision the NCAA makes, Wells is a great grab for Terrapins head coach Mark Turgeon. It’s not very often that a player of his talent level is available in September, especially one who fits the program so well. Wells, an impressive athlete who has a lot of potential on the defensive end, should thrive under Turgeon.
Recruiting Update: While most of the eyes on the recruiting circuit this week were on Wells, there was some notable action with high schoolers as well.
Jabari Bird, a top-5 shooting guard from California, decided to stay close to home as he made a verbal commitment to Cal. This is a big pickup for the Golden Bears and head coach Mike Montgomery. Bird followed up his commitment by going on the record saying he wants other highly-regarded prospects in the Bay Area to follow him.
In unsurprising news, Karl Towns Jr. received an offer from Kentucky. Towns, a versatile 6’11 big man, is currently regarded as the best player in the 2015 class. He’s also sporting offers from Michigan State, Florida, and Connecticut.
He played with the Dominican Republic National Team this summer, which was coached by none other than Kentucky head coach John Calipari. Coach Cal’s extensive interactions with him early on, along with the amazing job he’s done revitalizing UK’s basketball program, probably makes them the front runner. We’re still probably a year or two away from Towns making his decision, though, and there’s not telling whether or not Cal will still be there.
The NBA remains a temptation that could pull Cal away. Right now he seems happy where he’s at, but as he continues to succeed his stock is only going to rise. Within the next year or two he could receive an offer that he can’t refuse.