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23 June
03 July, 2016
14 Wendell Andre Carter Jr. (USA)
03/07/2016
News
to read

Carter not just acting the part of leader for USA

ZARAGOZA (2016 FIBA U17 World Championship) - Wendell Carter Jr. may not be the leading scorer or rebounder for the United States at the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship, but he is without doubt one of the team's biggest leaders - and that’s no act.

Carter is a force in the middle of the United States team at both ends of the court. Not only is he putting up 10 points per game on 62 percent shooting but he's also averaging 7.3 rebounds - including 3.2 offensive boards - 1.2 blocks and 1.0 assists. All that coming in just 15 minutes per game.

"Wendell is really a special player," said USA head coach Don Showalter, who is spending his second summer with the 2.08m big man. "You look at his stat line and he might not have the big stats, but he can control the game out there. He passes the ball well. He's a great teammate. He understands what he needs to do to make his team better. Sometimes it's scoring, sometimes it's passing. Sometimes it's just playing defence.”

There is a lot of pride in Carter playing for the three letters on his chest. 

"Any opportunity I get to have USA on my chest I'm going to take it and play as hard as I can," Carter said. "I'm doing it for my family and friends back home and more importantly my whole country."

The Americans are just one victory from claiming a fourth straight U17 Worlds title - and they would extend their competition undefeated streak to 30-0 with a win over Turkey in the final in Zaragoza.

"We have to keep our defence up and crash the offensive boards, knock down shots of course," Carter said about what the team needs to win. "The offense will come as it's needed."

Wendell is really a special player. You look at his stat line and he might not have the big stats, but he can control the game out there. He passes the ball well. He’s a great teammate. He understands what he needs to do to make his team better. Sometimes it's scoring, sometimes it's passing. Sometimes it's just playing defence. - Showalter

Carter, who hails from Fairburn, Georgia, a town with a population of 13,000 near Atlanta, is about more than just basketball. The confessed sneaker fan - who lists footlocker.com and nike.com as his favourite non-sports websites - enjoys going to church and excels in school. He also is active in his high school's drama department, even acting in the school production "You Can't Take It With You".

"It was a great process. All the rehearsals and having to get up on stage and try to remember the lines. It was a great time," said Carter, who played a handy man in the play set in Staten Island, New York in the early 1900s. "I had about 30 lines. But you had a chance to improvise a bit and add some words. It wasn't that hard to memorise the words."

When asked where he is more nervous, on the court or on stage, Carter said: "The first time I had to get the butterflies out, but the next time I would be much more comfortable. I like acting."

Carter also likes writing, producing a blog for the United States newspaper USA Today called "Carter’s Corner".

"I just let people know things about myself, going outside of reporters' questions and just talk to my fans," he said.

Besides trying to help the United States go back-to-back-to-back-to-back, Carter is facing a major decision about which college to attend. Most of the major United States universities are trying to get Carter but the big man is thinking about a combo deal with his USA teammate in Zaragoza, Gary Trent Jr. The two players roomed together during the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and they are roomies again in Zaragoza.

Wendell Carter Jr and Gary Trent Jr (with headbands) have formed a close bond.

"We talk about college very often, trying to come up with a school where both of us will enjoy going to together. If it doesn't work out that way and we have to part ways, that's still fine," Carter said. 

Six former U17 Worlds players were picked in the 2016 NBA Draft, which provides Carter with extra motivation to perform well in Zaragoza. 

"It just makes we drive even more and want to be just like the people who have been here before like Jahlil (Okafor) and Tyus (Jones) and the others. Hopefully I can get to that spot one day."

There's a good chance that happens as long he continues to be a leader - without it being an act.

FIBA