Wendell Carter Jr. was a jewel in of one of the best basketball classes Duke has ever landed, a 2017 Mike Krzyzewski coup that cemented the coaching icon’s status as the nation’s No. 1 recruiter ahead of John Calipari.
Carter Jr., a top-10 player nationally, joined two other five-star players and a pair of four-star recruits to round out a class that had many picking the Blue Devils to win the national championship last season.
When Marvin Bagley III reclassified from 2018 to 2017, a great recruiting haul became legendary. Bagley, rated as the No. 2 prospect in the class, lived up to the hype and developed into an All-American and the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft.
Carter Jr. took a back seat.
Wendell Carter Jr.’s parents ‘pissed’ about experience at Duke
This did not sit well with Carter Jr.’s parents, who have guided their son throughout his basketball career and joined him on stage at last week’s NBA draft. Kylia and Wendell Carter Sr. vented to NBC Sports after the draft about their experience with Duke.
“My initial reaction, I was pissed,” Kylia Carter said of Bagley’s reclassification. “And it wasn’t pissed because Marvin was coming. To be honest, I felt like that was information that was kept from us. It felt (shady), it felt like my baby was gonna get kicked to the curb. I felt like all of that.”
While Bagley averaged 21.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game as the focal point of the Blue Devils offense, Carter Jr. was a solid contributor as the team’s fourth leading scorer with 13.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
‘Rug was pulled from under us’ at Duke
Carter Jr.’s secondary role didn’t appear to hurt his draft stock, as the Chicago Bulls made him the No. 7 pick on Thursday. But that fact didn’t appear to be enough to rid the Carters of the bad taste Duke left with them.
“I tell people. People make promises they can’t keep. It didn’t bother me,” Wendell Sr. said. “I was concerned because I felt like we were lied to. ‘Oh, Wendell’s gonna be the man’ and then the rug was pulled from under us.”
This is not the first shot the Carters have fired at the NCAA experience. Kylia, a former basketball player at Ole Miss, complained to Sports Illustrated prior to the draft that the NCAA “treats you like a piece of property.”
Kylia saving her words for Krzyzewski
Kylia also told NBC that she had some basketball advice for her son when Bagley became Duke’s primary option.
“Everybody knows you can score,” Kylia said. “So let Marvin have all the damn points. They’re throwing him the ball, the offense is geared around him. Why are you beating your head against the wall?
“Defense is not the strong suit of this team. Fill that void.”
Kylia also promised to give Krzyzewski an earful when she seems him at a Bulls game.
“We have not had our conversation, but we will. We almost went there with him when we did our exit interview. But he’ll come around to a Bulls game, and I’ll get the chance.”
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