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.
Wendell Carter Jr. will join his friend and USA Basketball teammate Gary Trent Jr. at Duke, even if it took Carter Jr. two weeks longer than Trent Jr. to announce.
The 6-foot-10 Carter Jr., who this summer won a gold medal with Trent Jr. and the USA U17 team, signed with Duke during the early signing period and announced on Wednesday morning.
“I made my decision,” he said in a Bleacher Report video that depicted him as James Bond. “I choose Duke University.”
Carter Jr., out of Atlanta (GA) Pace Academy, also considered Harvard, Georgia and Georgia Tech.
“Wendell has a varied skill set that allows him to face the basket as well as post up in a true post offensive scheme,” USA Basketball coach Don Showalter told ZAGSBLOG. “He has greatly improved his defense, especially guarding a face up offensive player.”
Trent Jr. committed to Duke on Nov. 10 and said in his USA Today blog that both he and Carter Jr. “loved” their Duke visit — which they took together.
“I went with one of my best friends Wendell Carter, who’s like a brother to me,” Trent Jr. wrote. “Of course everyone knows that we want to play together so we scheduled the visit so we could see it together.
“We went to Countdown to Craziness and that was just crazy! You hear about the Cameron Crazies, but it definitely surpassed what I thought. Those guys really are in awe of their basketball team. I loved it.”
Carter Jr. told USA Today that Trent Jr.’s decision factored in his own.
“It just worked out that it was the perfect situation for both of us,” Carter said. “I won’t say Gary being there was what made me go to Duke; it helped, but Duke is Duke. It really was the right choice for both of us.”
Duke will now have a top-5 recruiting class according to Scout.com with Carter Jr., Trent Jr. and 6-6 shooting guard Alex O’Connell.
“[Carter Jr.] and Gary Trent give them two or three players ranked in the top 13 or 14 in the country and so that’s a great start,” Evan Daniels of Scout.com said on The 4 Quarters Podcast. “But they’re not done, they’re going to add to this class.
“Duke isn’t done and I think they’ll end up with a top-3 or top-5 recruiting class as they have the past couple years.”
The Blue Devils remain in the mix for point guards Matt Coleman and Trevon Duval, wing Kevin Knox and center Mohamed Bamba, who will all sign in the late period in the spring.
“I’m going to be talking to Matt and Trevon,” Carter told USA Today. “I know Duke is a finalist for both of them so I want to talk to them to see where they’re at with everything. Then I’ll decide who to go after. For now though, I’m just happy to have everything over and done with. I’m excited to join the Duke family and I’m excited for Thanksgiving dinner!”
Carter Jr. is projected as the No. 4 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com.
He should help replace the departures in the Duke frontcourt, including graduate big man Amile Jefferson and likely one-and-dones Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, all of whom are injured and have yet to suit up this season.
“That was important to me,” Carter told USA Today of a chance for serious playing time next year. “I want to be playing as much as possible so I can, hopefully, make it to the next level as well.”
Follow Adam Zagoria on TwitterAnd like ZAGS on Facebook
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.