After the three-day adidas Eurocamp wrapped in Treviso, Italy on Monday, a number of NBA general managers, executives, coaches and scouts left with high hopes about Lucas “Bebe” Nogueira (7-feet, 213 pounds, center), Raul Neto (6-foot-1, 186 pounds, point guard) and Augusto Lima (6-foot-9, 206 pounds, power forward).
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Aquille Carr -- the 5-foot-6 point guard who is gunning to be the next Brandon Jennings, who jumped from high school to overseas and then to the NBA after one season in Europe.
The headline from Tuesday’s Washington Post said it all:
Aquille Carr struggles at adidas Eurocamp
In the report, Brandon Parker details how Carr's quest to play professionally overseas got off to a rough start and Carr lacked preparation as he struggled through the international showcase.
But while that may have been Carr’s poor fortune in Treviso, there is a very good chance the whole experience could be a blessing in disguise if Carr views this as an opportunity to grow as he gathers a taste of playing at an international level and his camp does their homework about what best fits Carr as he makes the move to play at the next level overseas.
“Aquille is a resilient and resourceful young man. Eurocamp was his first step toward transitioning from a high school phenom to being a professional and we will assess his Eurocamp experience when he returns to the States, said Princeton Day Coach Van Whitfield, whom coached Carr in highs school.
“Aquille is blessed to have outstanding representation and I have every confidence that Aquille will work to ensure that he is equipped to maximize his unique talent to realize a professional career.”
Hopefully reality will hit home for Carr as he and the people around him wisely game plan for next steps in Carr playing abroad.
Word of caution: this venture cannot just be about the money. There is a misnomer among some players in the States that they can simply walk on a court in Europe and kill it, while making tons of money. That is very far from the case. Can those goals be accomplished? Of course, but it also depends on the right team situation and financial backing from a club.
It also depends on the player and if that player is open to change.
Expectations may have to be lowered. Style of play will have to be tamed. But regardless if Carr opts to play in Europe or even China, the adjustment period will range from adapting to a new culture, different basketball system, and, in the end, it becomes a chance to mature mentally and physically, both as a player and a person.
The talent is obviously there.
The press has surrounded Carr over the last three years and ever since the Baltimore native was busy dropping 20 points, 10 assists and six steals on teams as a freshman at Patterson High. Carr averaged 32 points, six assists and five rebounds to lead Patterson (25-2) to Baltimore City and Class 4A North region titles and a trip to the state title game in 2010. The following year, Carr was named the Baltimore Sun All-Metro boys basketball Player of the Year, the same year ESPN chose him as the 2011 High School Basketball Player of the Year.
Dubbed "Crimestopper" for his ability pack gyms around the city with highlight reel handles and mixtape moves, Carr would soon find himself on the other end of the law -- a headline the then 18-year old could have done without.
As Carr took care of his game on the floor, he committed a major personal foul away from the game.
In August, 2012, he was arrested on a domestic assault charge with his girlfriend and mother of his daughter. Three months later, Carr was called for traveling.
First, he transferred to Arlington Country Day, in Jacksonville, Florida and then transferred back to Maryland with Princeton Day Academy for his final year of high school (there was also a brief stint at St. Patrick High in Elizabeth, New Jersey, during his Patterson days).
Throughout it all, the diminutive yet electric guard was busy preparing to attend Seton Hall after verbally committing to the program, but that all changed one night this past March after Carr scored 52 points in a game for Princeton Day and the news about intending to play in Europe went viral.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to the dollars and cents of it all, as Carr received a taste of it from Italy in the Spring of 2011 when he was 17-years old and on a basketball tour. According to reports, the All-Metro Player of the Year was offered a $750,000 contract offer from Italian club Virtus Roma (the same club trendsetter Brandon Jennings played for) while Carr helped the U.S. Elite Select under-19 team capture the Junior International Tournament in Milan.
Back in 2008 as Carr was trying to figure out which high school he would eventually attend, Brandon Jennings headlined his recruiting class as a McDonald's All-American. But instead of hitting campus and the books (Jennings was to attend Arizona but did not qualify academically) the lightning quick guard opted for Europe, signing a three-year deal (reportedly $1.65 million) with Virtus Roma.
During his lone year in Italy, Jennings averaged 5.5 points, 2.3 assists and 1.3 rebounds per game (17 minutes per game, 27 games in Italian League), while shooting 48 percent from the field, 20.7 percent from 3-point and 65 percent from the foul line. Those numbers stayed consistent with Jennings playing in 16 Euroleague games -- 7.6 points, 1.6 assists and 1.6 rebounds per game, and shooting 46 percent (FG), 27 percent (3-pt) and 77 percent (FT) in 19 minutes per game.
He parlayed those numbers into an NBA lottery pick in 2009 by the Milwaukee Bucks.
Jennings was certainly a trail blazer and experienced a successful jump from high school to Europe and to the NBA, but that has not necessarily been the case with everyone. Case in point: Jeremy Tyler.
Tyler -- a 6-foot-10 and 250-pound power forward/center -- skipped his senior year in high school in 2009 to play professionally abroad and, five months later, signed a $140,000 deal with Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Super League.
He lasted 10 games.
While the NBA requires players to be at least 19-years old and be one year removed from high school before entering the league, the fact is many of these young players who have or will be entertaining the same thoughts as Carr, Jennings and Tyler would truly benefit from the structure college basketball provides, both in regards to maturing on the floor and off.
Because the truth is, the overseas game is never what some people believe it to be. Adjusting to changes culturally is one thing, but adapting to a new basketball system, national teammates, club rules and non-polished officiating is a completely different story.
This much is true: guys either grow up very fast that first season playing abroad (Jennings) or they bounce (Tyler). It is that cut and dry.
Much like his three-days at the adidas Eurocamp, that is just another harsh reality about playing overseas Aquille Carr should be aware of.
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