BALTIMORE — How can this kid ever hope to make it?
You have to start with the obvious: Aquille Carr is 5 feet 7, maybe a buck-forty-five soaking wet. It’s what you notice first about the junior point guard from Baltimore’s Patterson High, even before the impossible vertical leap and the sick crossovers and the radiant smile and the incessant trash talk. He isn’t small. He isn’t smallish. He’s tiny.
He may have inherited his old man’s hops — Alan Carr, Aquille’s father, was a Baltimore hoops legend himself back in the day, a 6-2 shooting guard who could jump right out of the building — but he got his mama’s height. Tammy Carr, bless her heart, is 4-11 on a good day.
Aquille, 18, has super-size dreams — the NBA, worldwide stardom, endorsements. And in that vulnerable space between boyhood and manhood, his life, both on and off the court, is accelerating at a dizzying rate.
He unofficially committed to play for Seton Hall University last week; he doesn’t plan on being there for long. But at each higher level, his height is going to be a bigger problem, when those trees in the paint — that he loves to go around, through or over — are no longer 6-3 or 6-4, but 6-9 and 7-1.
Do you know how many players 5-7 or shorter have had NBA careers that lasted 300 games or more? Three: Spud Webb, Muggsy Bogues and Earl Boykins. Do you know how many made an all-star team even once? None.
“That’s what I always hear — ‘He can’t do this. He can’t do that. He’s too small,’ ” Carr says. “But I’ve been proving people wrong a long time now. And I’m just getting started.”
Carr comes to town
How can this kid possibly fail?
Have you seen Aquille Carr play? If not, you get your chance Monday night when Carr’s Patterson Clippers, the No. 1 team in the Baltimore Sun’s rankings, take on The Washington Post’s No. 3 team, Gonzaga, at Coolidge High. The game is part of Patterson’s national schedule (funded largely by Under Armour, which has a two-year deal to outfit the team) that has already taken the Clippers to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Jersey this season.
Trust us, you have never seen anything like it — a 5-7 slasher who has put up nearly 30 points per game the past two seasons, who dunks routinely, whose crossover move draws comparisons to Allen Iverson’s, whose vertical leap has been measured at 48 inches, who is rated the 26th-best prospect in his class by Rivals.com, who was on the cover of Dime Magazine in August with a story that called him “without question, the country’s most electrifying high school player.”
“He’s a defensive nightmare,” says one assistant at a Big East school that recruited him who asked not to be named because college coaches are not allowed to discuss potential recruits until after they have officially signed with a school.
“With his type of speed and quickness,” says an ACC assistant, “there’s not a lot of guys, even at the highest level, who can do what he does.”
And he doesn’t just beat you. He humiliates you. He talks about yo mama. (“Best trash-talker in the city,” says Dominic Barnes of rival Digital Harbor High, after Carr lit up the Rams for 32 points earlier this season.) He breaks your ankles on the perimeter with a crossover dribble, then laughs as he sails through the trees inside, and on his way back down the floor he gets in your face, tells you you’re gutless and dares you to try to guard him again.
Here is what poor John Cooper, coach of Urbana High, had to say after Carr destroyed his team with 43 points in last year’s Maryland 4A North region final: “We tried to prepare for what we’d face tonight [from Carr], but I mean, what can you do? . . . I probably talked to about 20 coaches about how to defend him, and they all said he’s just a freak of a player [who] can make you look ridiculous.”
Have you seen him? Some 2.9 million (and counting) of you have watched his Hoopmixtape.com highlight reel on YouTube. Maybe you’re one of those who were moved to add comments: “I watch this every day for inspiration.” “one word: WOW!!” “dude SICK. NO DOUBT.”
Carr’s legend is big enough that NBA players are lining up to get a piece. The Washington Wizards’ John Wall came to see him play last season and asked Carr to work out with his little brother. Carr says he has cellphone numbers for both Wall and Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Naturally, Carr draws comparisons to both Bogues and Shawnta Rogers, another diminutive Baltimore point guard who had a stellar career at George Washington University and overseas as a pro.