Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
PHILADELPHIA – Now that Brandon Jennings has committed to skipping college to play in Europe, can Derrick Caracter be far behind?
The 6-foot-9 Caracter, a native of Fanwood, N.J., was once touted as a surefire NBA pick before attitude and weight problems derailed his career.
He spent two years at Louisville and many figured he would get drafted late in the first or early in the second round. But he inexplicably skipped the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp even though Cardinals coach Rick Pitino wanted him to go pro.
Now he now must get his grades together before potentially transferring to another school. Pitino has made it clear that Caracter won’t be back with his team, so could he follow Jennings to Europe?
Speaking generally because he didn’t want to comment on Caracter specifically, Pitino said it was “very much” a viable option.
“But it’s very difficult for an 18-year-old, it’s difficult for a 21-year-old, to go over where they don’t speak their language on foreign soil,” Pitino said at the Reebok All-American Camp. “Now, (it’s a good thing) if you want to learn a second language like Kobe (Bryant) and experience some of the things culturally, but if you’re going there just for basketball it will be a very difficult life.”
Pitino said there were pros and cons for Jennings, a 6-foot guard who announced his decision to forgo Arizona in order to play in Europe.
“There’s two sides,” Pitino said. “On one side for Brandon Jennings, who I love as a player and I think will make it big, is you make a lot of money and come back after a year. The bad side is if you’re a different type of player and you don’t make it, you’re finished. You don’t have a college education. You lose your chance to go to college, and you also lose the best years of your life. I mean, everybody who’s gone to college says they were the best years of my life, even if it’s short-lived.”
Caracter was not immediately available for comment, but various Division I coaches doubted he would make it overseas.
“He can barely make it in his own home,” said one assistant. “How’s he going to survive in Europe?”
Speaking of Arizona, the Wildcats plan to use Nic Wise and Chase Budinger at the point in place of Jennings. The team is frantically searching for a point guard from the Class of 2008, even looking as far as Europe, but no elite level players are available. The catch is, If they do secure someone who turns out be a stud (the way Sean Elliott was in an emergency role), what do they do with their ’09 recruits at the position? Another factor is that Arizona runs a motion offense, so the 1, 2 or 3 can start the play, but losing a talent like Jennings at this late date is unprecedented.
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.