A Whole New World

by January 12, 2011

Originally published in SLAM 145

by Ben Collins

When coach Mike Hart of St. Andrew’s School in Rhode Island was thinking of adding Massachusetts-bred prospect Michael Carter-WilliamsMichael Carter-Williams to his team, a couple of fellow coaches and close friends were skeptical. They had heard some things. “They were saying he was too skinny and he had a bad attitude,” says Hart. “I said, ‘Those things are fixable.’ I looked at him, with his background, his size, that ability and thought I hit the jackpot.”

Man, has he ever turned out to be right. Carter-Williams is still skinny, yes—he’s 6-5 (conservatively, and growing) and he’s 175 pounds. But there are protein shakes for that sort of thing. There aren’t shakes, though, for the kind of scorer he is. He dropped 62 points in a Nike camp over the summer. This is impressive for anybody. It’s even more impressive for a kid who is, by all accounts, a pure point guard, always looking to distribute.

“He’s too young to remember Penny Hardaway with knees,” his coach says. But Hart has a better suggestion. “Shaun Livingston with a jumpshot—and maybe better scoring ability.”

As for the attitude? It’s been checked. He’s learned, cultured now. A thespian. He can show you the world. “I was Aladdin in the school play. I’ve been surrounded by good people,” says Carter-Williams. “I see myself as a leader out there.”

He’s talking about the basketball court now, not Aladdin. He’s grown from “a bit of a sore sport, who I think really just hated losing,” according to Hart, to a team captain. He’s now a top-30 prospect in his class and on his way to Syracuse to play PG. He could be the best rebounding guard in the country, his coach says.

But Carter-Williams won’t say it. This is the new humble leader, Michael Carter-Williams. He’ll let his expansive highlight reel on YouTube do the talking. Or maybe he’ll sing it to you.