There are a handful of American basketball players who have entered the NBA Draft without attending college since the 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement put a damper on any high schoolers dreaming to jump straight to the pros. It isn’t a perfect science, but players like Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler have stuck around NBA circles after their unorthodox methods to get there.
Aquille Carr looks to join the club in his own way. The 5-7 dynamo hopes to become the first American player under 6-0 tall to skip college and get drafted by an NBA organization in the CBA’s new era.
We caught up with Aquille to talk about what he’s currently up to, his unique journey that involved a recent stint in the D-League, what NBA players mentor him, and what NBA scouts want to see out him in the near future.
Dime: Tell us a little bit about why you’re in NYC?
Aquille Carr: Well what brings me to the city is to come to get out of Baltimore–to get a free mind and to start doing more stuff with the community. Like today I went to a soup kitchen for older, homeless people and passed out food to the people. I’m just trying to clean my image up basically. I’m going to do a clinic with basketball kids later and I’ve been training every day. Been training two times a day–hard work, putting it in. Just trying to get back on the right track. There was a lot of negative stuff going on so I’m just trying to give back in a positive way.
Dime: Over the last year you’ve been somewhat of a journeyman. You were over in China; you went to the Euro Camp and had a little stint in the D-League. Talk about what your favorite memories have been and what you’ve learned during this journey.
AC: Well I’ll start off with my Euro adidas Camp. I mean it was great. It was my first time going over there and playing professional basketball so it was just like a learning experience to me. I didn’t really catch on as fast as I was supposed to but it was just a learning process for me. There was negative stuff that was happening while I was there so my mind wasn’t on basketball–I didn’t have a fresh start. But then I went to China. I met great people like Hall of Fame people (such as) Gary Payton, Tracy McGrady. They sat down and talked to me because they read my articles from the Euro Camp. They just (kept) telling, “Don’t worry about it, just keep working, it’s not over. There’s always going to be bumps in the road–it ain’t never going to be a clear road. And always believe in God. Put God first in your plans and you’ll be great.”
Dime: All of that moving around could be a little overwhelming for someone your age. Has there been anyone else in particular in the league now that has mentored you through the process?
AC: Well John Wall didn’t go through that process but he’s someone that I keep in good contact with. He talks to me about off the court stuff like how I’m doing, how my family’s doing. And I talk to Brandon Jennings. I talk to him a lot because he’s in the Under Armour family and Will Barton–he’s in the UA family. So I talk to a lot of people that are in the NBA. Really they just tell me “Keep working, it’s not over. Just don’t give up. Don’t fall to the wrong people. Surround yourself with great people that are trying to do what you’re trying to do or make it to where you’re trying to make it to.”
Dime: With Brandon Jennings having a couple bumps in the road, taking a similar path and playing overseas, do you look at his situation and know you can make it because he had similar bumps in the road?
AC: I mean, yeah. God has his own plan. Whatever he’s got planned for me, he’ll put me in good hands. It’s just how much I’m going to work for it.