This summer, ESPNHS will sit down with some of the nation's elite players to break down their game, talk about the inevitable comparisons to college and pro players and get their take on who they pattern their game after.
Player: Aquille Carr
School: Patterson (Baltimore, Md.)
Position: Point guard
ESPN 100: No. 78
Who is Aquille Carr?
This right-handed guard is arguably the most exciting player in high school basketball. Known for flashy offensive play, the diminutive Carr scored 1,990 points through his first three seasons of high school. As a freshman, Carr pumped in 25.5 points per game. As a sophomore, he averaged 32 points, six assists and five rebounds and led the Clippers to a 25-2 record and the Class 4A state title. Affectionately known as "The Crime Stopper" because the crime rates in Baltimore supposedly go down during Patterson games, Carr's continued improvement in translating his crowd-pleasing play into Patterson wins culminated in the state title game this year. The Seton Hall commit scored 28 points and dished out eight assists. Last summer, Carr solidified his status as one of the nation's top players by earning co-MVP honors at the Boost Mobile Elite 24 with 21 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists and four steals. He set an event record for most steals and only Brandon Jennings dished out more assists in a single game.
According to ESPN RecruitingNation, Carr's quickness, explosiveness and confidence make him an elite talent in the 2013 class. On the flip side, ESPN's scouts believe Carr's size will limit him at some point if he doesn't tone down his game, make the simple basketball play and learn to play without the ball. Many of the abilities a player his size needs at the Division I level -- quick hands and feet, compact strength, court awareness and jumping ability -- he already possesses. The abilities Carr's game lacks right now -- a jump stop to avoid charges, a pull-up to keep bigger defenders off balance and a quick catch-and-shoot to offset his height -- he can learn. If he can channel his skills on the defensive end like he does with the ball in his hands, Carr will be an impact college player.
ESPNHS comparison: Nate Robinson
There are noticeable similarities between Carr and the current Golden State Warriors guard. Obviously their height (Robinson is listed at a generous 5-foot-9) and compact bodies stand out. Both can absorb contact and finish in the key. Robinson has won the NBA's slam dunk contest three times, while "The Crime Stopper" is a YouTube sensation for his highlight reel dunks and acrobatic layups. Many felt Robinson had a more realistic shot at a career in the NFL rather than the NBA. He was a top 100 basketball prospect, but earned a football scholarship to Washington, where he played both sports. Carr has a football background, too, playing Pop Warner as a ninth-grader. He's expressed interest in playing for Patterson, but basketball coach Harry Martin said he'd be considered, "one of the dumbest coaches in the country" if Carr got hurt on the gridiron.
Aquille's comparison: Nate Robinson
Carr loves the comparison to Robinson, if nothing more than to inspire improvement in his own game.
"It's a great comparison because our sizes are similar," Carr said. "He's a little stronger, but that comes from working hard."
With a unique confidence rarely seen in a player his size, Carr doesn't pattern his game after just any one player. He doesn't want to be the second anyone, just the first Aquille Carr.
Carr is also compared to a pair of Baltimore high school legends: former Dunbar sparkplug Muggsy Bouges, the shortest player ever to compete in the NBA at 5-foot-3, and playground legend Nut Rogers, the former Lake Clifton star who at 5-foot-4 was the 1999 Atlantic-10 Player of the Year for George Washington after leading the league in points, assists and steals.
"Aquille has played against Rogers and has spoken to Muggsy," Martin said. "I played against Rogers in high school and he was bigger in terms of weight and strength, but Aquille is much faster with the basketball. Muggsy was better defensively. He was phenomenal getting in and underneath his man. Aquille needs work on the defensive end, but he expends so much energy for us on offense we have him check the weaker guard. We want him to trap because he has great instincts."
If Carr improves in the areas Martin mentioned at Seton Hall, he could join Bouges (1987), Rogers (1999) and Robinson (2005) as winner of The Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, given to the NCAA's best senior under 6-foot.
Despite his well-known bravado, Carr is savvy enough to understand that if he takes his game to the NBA level, he won't be the top scoring option for his team like he is now. Even if he doesn't want to, his game will have to pattern Robinson's.
"He's real scrappy and that's how he gets things done," Carr said.