Wendell Carter, Jr. had a great year. If not for Marvin Bagley III on the same team taking away the spotlight, he would probably be even more highly touted by now.
He has the physical profile (six-foot-10, 259 pounds) of a pure center in a time where pure centers are devalued but showed the skill he was previously known for and surprised with his nimbleness out in space.
He also has a good deal of high level experience for a just-turned 19-year-old:
- 997 NCAA minutes with Duke;
- 206 minutes defending the United States National Team at the 2015 U16 FIBA Americas and 2016 U17 FIBA World Cup;
- 82 minutes at the 2016 adidas Nations;
- An appearance at the 2017 Nike Hoop Summit.
The Pace Academy product played primarily center, though he shared the court with Marques Bolden some – getting most of his touches in the post. He didn’t roll hard often but flashed a catch-and-shoot three-pointer out of the pick-and-pop.
The native of Fairburn, Georgia guarded pick-and-rolls mostly below the foul line during the first half of the season and defended the front of the basket when Duke went to a full time zone during the conference part of the schedule.
Carter, Jr. has a very advanced post game for someone his age:
- Power moves;
- Head fakes;
- Shot fakes;
- Fake pivot move;
- Pivot move to pass;
- Turnaround, fadeaway jumper;
- Most often looking for right handed hook but has a counter finishing with his off hand;
He struggled with touch during the second half of the season, though – shooting 36.8% on 95 two-point attempts away from the basket.
Carter, Jr. showed to be a decent passer out of hard double teams with good court vision but not some exceptional passer and turned it over a displeasing amount – assisting on 12.9% of Duke’s scores when he was on the floor but averaging three turnovers per 40 minutes while logging 22.6% usage rate.
He prefers to rely on skill but doesn’t shy away from contact – averaging 6.8 foul shots per 40 minutes.
Carter, Jr. didn’t roll hard to the basket often out of setting ball-screens. Part of the problem was Bagley, III not always spacing out to the three-point line and Trevon Duval being a poor shooter but part of it was due to his lack of explosiveness.
He can play above the rim as a target for lobs in transition and sneaking behind the defense with time to load up but can’t go up strong off two feet in traffic.
Carter, Jr. did prove to be coordinated enough for instances where he needed to catch, take a dribble for balance and go up for a finish with a defender between him and the basket, though. He also showed to have decent touch on non-dunk finishes – shooting 70.2% on 178 attempts at the rim.
Carter, Jr. is only a capable open shot shooter at this point of his development. The fluidity of his release improved the second half of the season, though it remains not quick enough to get a good look off when rushed by a closeout or over a contest.
He flashed some quick shots out of the pick-and-pop and out of roll-and-replace but is mostly suited for spot-ups as of now. His touch was OK, though it can certainly stand to improve some more – as he shot 73.8% on 168 free throws.
His shooting percentage indicates he certainly can become a real asset as a floor-spacer down the line but was not perfectly reflective of how real a long range shooter he is right now, as most of his misses were considerably short. Carter, Jr. nailed 41.3% of his 46 three-point shots, but at a pace of just 1.9 such attempts per 40 minutes.
He doesn’t play with a particularly impressive motor or toughness disentangling himself from boxouts but was pretty effective crashing the offensive glass thanks to a seven-foot-four wingspan that helps him rebound outside of his area – collecting 12.7% of Duke’s misses when he was on the floor. He also showed a decent second jump fighting for tip-ins – shooting 75% on his 41 putbacks attempts.
Carter, Jr. flashed a dribble drive from the elbow down, lacking an explosive first step but able to maintain his balance through contact, but isn’t suited to attack closeouts and hasn’t yet develop an in between game in terms of stop-and-pop jumpers, step-back jumpers, running floaters or floaters off jump-stops.
Carter, Jr. was an effective rim protector when he was able to hang back and patrol the lane, which was less challenging for him to do once Duke installed a full time zone.
He has decent short area lateral quickness and was proactive stepping up the front of the basket as the last line of defense. Though not an explosive leaper off two feet in a pinch, he acted as a shot blocking threat thanks to his nine-foot-one standing reach – averaging 3.1 blocks per 40 minutes last season.
Carter, Jr. challenged shots via verticality very well. He has a thick frame some guards will just bounce back off on impact, though at a risk of getting into foul trouble – as he averaged 4.2 personal fouls per 40 minutes. He also proved himself a willing charge drawer.
Carter, Jr. was able to stick with ball handlers from the foul line down in college. When he had less ground to cover, Carter, Jr. developed some awareness shadowing isolations and making preventive rotations that kept the dribble driver from getting all the way to the rim, which he didn’t show earlier in the year when Duke was guarding man-to-man.
When forced to guard out in space, Carter, Jr. flashed some decent nimbleness but doesn’t figure to be suited to venture far away from the basket in the pros. He was able to influence ball handlers on hedges but can’t hustle back to contest effectively at the rim. It’s also unclear how well he can keep action in front if asked to show hard at the three-point line.
Carter, Jr. can bend his knees to get down in a stance some and keep pace on straight line drives in a few matchups but isn’t agile enough to stay in front of shifty types.
He used his length some to get into passing lanes, though nothing at a difference making level – averaging 1.2 steals per 40 minutes.
Carter, Jr. proved to be a stout post defender and was attentive to his boxout responsibilities but isn’t exceptionally quick chasing the ball off the rim – collecting 23.1% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.
He had the best defensive rating among rotation players on a team that ended up ranked ninth in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency.
 DOB: 4/16/1999
EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara