Dallas Mavericks: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Since the eighth grade, UTEP's 6-9, 280-pound power forward started seeing his name in lights and by the time he got to Louisville and coach Rick Pitino, Caracter was blinded by the glare.
"Going into my eighth grade year, they ranked me No. 1 (prospect in the nation)," Caracter told the El Paso Times during the season. "I stayed No. 1 until my junior year. That's when I let everything get into my head. I got cocky; big headed. I didn't work out too good and I got heavy. Even then, though, Lebron James was ranked No. 1 and they had me at No. 5."
Heading into Thursday's NBA draft, Caracter will be lucky if he's any better than No. 50, as in the 50th overall pick. That's where the Dallas Mavericks select barring a move up.
Caracter lasted two miserable seasons at Louisville at which point Pitino kicked him off the team. Pitino, who once compared Caracter to the Round Mound of Rebounds himself -- Charles Barkley -- bid Caracter adieu by calling him a thorn in his side.
So the New Jersey native headed farther west to UTEP. After sitting out a year to satisfy transfer rules, Caracter seems to have delved deep into his character, realizing a lucrative pro career hung in the balance. The junior averaged 14.1 points and 8.1 rebounds in leading the Miners to the regular-season Conference-USA title.
Caracter is remarkably agile and athletic for such a large man. He was a force for UTEP down low, but could also step out and sink a floating jump shot, not unlike the Boston Celtics' 6-9, 289-pound Glen "Big Baby" Davis (although Caracater is a better rebounder). The Mavs passed up on Davis, a second-rounder who is now an integral reserve in Boston, a couple of years ago.
Although the Mavs say they draft the best player and not by need that late in the second round, Caracter would fill a need at power forward behind Dirk Nowitzki and health-risk Eduardo Najera. The Mavs need rebounding help and scoring punch on the low blocks.
San Antonio relished its selection last summer of another low-center-of-gravity load in 6-7, 265-pound center DeJuan Blair. Blair averaged 7.8 points and 6.4 rebounds as a rookie. The Mavs passed on him in the second round, too.
Caracter, seemingly having added a dash of maturity and humility, could be one of the draft's sleepers at No. 50.
Other big men who could be available at No. 50:
Dexter Pittman, Texas
Brian Zoubek, Duke
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
Jerome Jordan, Tulsa
Hamady N'Diaye, Rutgers
Tiny Gallon, Oklahoma
They don't happen often. And that's not to say that the Dallas Mavericks, who won't pick until No. 50 in the June 24 NBA draft, can't find the next Manu.
This is a deep draft that will produce recognizable names from the college ranks late in the second round.
"You're going to find some gems in the second round, deep in the second round," NBA director of scouting Ryan Blake said.
Would the Mavs be thrilled if Notre Dame's Luke Harangody fell in their lap? Or UTEP's Derrick Caracter? Other big men that could be left on the board include Duke's Brian Zoubek, Louisville's Samardo Samuels and Clemson's Trevor Booker.
The Mavs begin bringing in draft prospects today, a process that will continue into next week leading into the draft. Workouts will help vice president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and staff put their board in order.
Two under 6-foot guards who will be in for workouts are California's Jerome Randle and South Carolina's Devan Downey. The Mavs could be looking for another backup point guard if J.J. Barea is used in a trade.
But, what if Kansas' Sherron Collins is available? Or Alabama's Mikhail Torrance or Mississippi's Terrico White?
Will some prospects be gone well before No. 50? Absolutely. Could some fall beyond No. 50. Absolutely.
"This is one of the deepest [drafts] and it's going to be a strange kind of draft because ... it's kind of this is a beauty-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder-cliché daft," Blake said. "Really, that's the way it's going to be."
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.