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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.
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Sunday / October 21.
  • Caracter Chooses UTEP Over Europe

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    Derrick Caracter is enrolled at UTEP and head coach Tony Barbee says the 6-foot-9 Fanwood, N.J. native will be eligible to play in the second semester of the 2009-10 season.

    Caracter, who spent two seasons at Louisville, still needs one class at UTEP to become eligible.

    “He’ll be eligible to play at the end of first semester next fall when the final grades are posted. He’s one class short of getting eligible,” Barbee said by phone. “He’s on track to graduate.”

    Barbee first recruited Caracter when he was an assistant at Memphis from 2000-06, but Caracter chose Louisville instead.

    “We recuited Derrick and knew him well and got to know him and his family and his support system very well,” Barbee said. After Caracter parted ways with Louisville head coach Rick Pitino last summer over issues related to his attitude and weight, Caracter got in touch with Barbee.

    “He made contact with us through a third party member who was putting feelers out there to colleges that Derrick might be inerested in,” Barbee said. “I just had my assistant run down where everything was at and we felt comfortable with where Derrick was at.

    “He had been out of basketball since he left Louisville and we wanted to make sure he was still committed to being a college basketball player for the right reasons.

    “As talented as he is and as rough as a patch he had leaving Louisville, he could’ve folded up his tent and got a fairly well paid route in Europe. He wasn’t interested in going that route. He wanted to be a college student and a college player.”

    Barbee said he emphasized to Caracter that he wasn’t coming in to save the program.

    “The biggest thing I told him is, ‘I got a very talented team, not just Stefon Jackson. I’ve got other talented players. You’re not coming here to be the savior. You’re just going to be a cog in the wheel and I’m going to help you get better. The only reason I want you to be here is because you want to come here to win. With winning comes individual success, individual attention. That all comes from winning. If you don’t win, none of us look good.'”

    Caracter will practice with the team for the next year, giving Barbee a chance to evaulate and work with him.

    “Derrick is a talented player,” Barbee said.  “He has an opportunity over the year. He’ll be practicing with us. He’s got to to treat the practice like his games, as an opportunity to get better without the pressure. He didn’t handle that spotlight very well and now he can practice outside of the spotlight.”

    Barbee also want Caracter to focus on staying in shape.

    “Obviously, he’s always had a battle with his weight,” Barbee said. “When you’re away from basketball as long as  he was after he left Louisville, he’s got to get his weight back down.”

    “I told him you got a year to get yourself right physically, academically and mentally. If you can take care of business and get yourself right in all those ways, youll be ready to change peoples’ perceptions. But it’s going to be based on how you adjust to thosee three things.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. 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.