In recent weeks, I have had a number of you write me and ask why it is that I am always so down on Jared Carter. According to the emails, Carter is the future of the UK program and my lack of support for him shows that I dont understand what a true, hardworking Kentucky boy can do for the program. Most of these emails also come with ridicule for my love of Woo and a belief that if Tubby was smart, Carter would have been playing last year instead of “rotting on the bench.”
First, a few things to clear up. I dont hate Carter. He seems like a nice kid, albeit one who perpetually looks like he is smelling a fart. I am not optimistic about his potential to be a true difference maker for Kentucky, but I am not ready to rule it out. There is certainly no question that he has some offensive ability, but when he works on offense, he always looks to me like a kid who is trying his hardest to remember the multiplication table by memory, rather than understanding how multiplication works. Carter simply looks like he is thinking too much and is too mechanical….a problem that Woo has as well, although his offensive ability is much less than Jared’s.
Ultimately the problem however for Jared is that he simply cant play defense. When one wonders why Carter was always behind Woo, that is the answer. Woo, for all his problems, can hustle on defense and get in reasonably good position. Carter is unbelievably slow….often losing to Bill Keightley in team sprints, and while he is able to block some shots, is completely overmatched when playing against anyone who can run and chew gum.
Now maybe this will change. Most reports are that during the summer workouts, Carter looks great….only being topped by the uncanny three point ability of Josh Carrier, Todd Tackett and the post moves of Jules Camara. But I must admit to being skeptical. Folks mention that the addition of the new strength coach will help Carter and this is undoubtedly true. But I dont see strength as his major problem (although it is a minor one.) He must improve his quickness and his basketball instincts. Basketball always seems like a chore to Carter and its this lack of natural flow to the game that makes me question whether he will truly develop.
Ultimately this whole discussion may be pointless. Ready or not, after this season, Carter must play. With Woo and Shagari graduating and Morris potentially leaving, after this season, Carter is the ONLY big man option the Cats have. If he is good he will play and if he isnt good, he will still play. There is no choice. But I just dont know what the results will be. Coming out of high school, I thought there was literally no chance that Carter would have a long-term positive impact on Kentucky. I have revised that opinion to think that there is a good chance he will leave a mark on the Cats, but the chances that the mark is one that will be significant is up in the air.
I do pull for the kid. He works hard, is a good student and seems pleasant. As opposed to Shagari Alleyne, he has actually seen the classrooms at Kentucky and has yet to be beaten up by any of his teammates. Thus Carter has my support…..whether that support will translate into basketball success is still up in the air.