“When John Wall showed up to watch him play, he wasn’t hyped-up, real excited or anything,” says Allen. “When we talked about it, he was calm. He just looked at me and said, ‘I must be doing good.’”
A few days later, Wall reached out, asking if Aquille would be interested in working out with his little brother.
“It’s cool because I get to talk to John Wall and spend some time with him,” says Carr. “He’s just a regular dude, so it ain’t that big a deal.”
Carr is fortunate to have others in his ear, local role models of similar stature who’ve defied the odds.
“In speaking to Aquille, he says that he patterned his game after me and Shawnta Rogers,” says Bogues. “And I guess we’re good guys to look up to because we were successful small guards, guys who understood what it took to get to the next level and keep climbing.”
“I’ve been around Aquille for a long time,” adds Rogers, the 5-4 overseas pro and Baltimore legend from Lake Clifton who was named the Atlantic 10’s Player of the Year at George Washington University in 1999. “He was always a tough kid with a lot of heart and an advanced understanding of the game. And he can finish at the rim with the best of them.”
*** *** ***
It’s February 24th on a frigid, wintry evening, and the Hill Field House on the campus of Morgan State University is packed to the gizzards. There are 500 people braving the bitter temperatures who can’t get in to the sold-out city championship game.
During warm-ups, Aquille walks delicately on his tippy toes with his slightly bow-legged gate. He rolls his head, smiling, nodding and lip-synching the Jay-Z and Yo Gotti lyrics coming out of the overhead speakers. He swings and loosens up the slim-corded muscles in his arms like Floyd Mayweather during Michael Buffer’s “Let’s Get Ready to Rrrrumble!”
He grabs an early steal with the hand speed of a lizard’s tongue, zooms down court, elevates, floats with the balance of a ninja, and lays the ball softly through the net. Hampered with early foul trouble, he concentrates on his floor game, zipping passes at angles that only he can see.
After scoring seven first-half points, he takes over in the third quarter and finishes with 32. He strips the ball at will, flies through the air, contorting his body mid-flight to convert astonishing layups as well as draining 25-foot jumpers. Dribbling and weaving through traffic like a human blur, he delivers implausible passes that force the crowd out of their seats.
“He lets the game come to him and he’s tenacious on defense,” says Mike Daniel, the head coach at City College High School. “He’s savvy, intelligent and has an unbelievable will to win at all costs. That kid’s got a Sixth Sense, and only the great ones have that.”
After Carr’s scorching 43 points help deliver Patterson its first ever 4A regional championship, Urbana High School head coach John Cooper was at a loss.
“We tried to prepare for him, but we weren’t prepared,” said a red-faced Cooper. “You go zone and he hits threes, you play up on him and he goes around you. He’s just a freak of a player who can just make you look ridiculous.”
Early in the game, Carr strolls over to Urbana’s point guard, who, thus far, has looked as conflicted as a vegetarian dope fiend while trying to guard him. He stares him directly in the eyes, inches from his face, but not in a menacing or hurtful way. It’s innocent, almost as if he’s looking into the competition’s soul. Flustered, his opponent fearfully averts his gaze, resting his eyes on the floor.