Carr has had a busy spring and summer. In late April, as the only sophomore on the team, he averaged over 30 points at the Junior International Tournament in Milan, Italy, leading the U.S. squad to a gold medal.
Fans hoisted him on their shoulders after one 40-point game. The Italian pro club, Lottomatica Virtus Roma, Brandon Jennings’ old team, reportedly offered him an open-ended, $750,000 per year contract.
“They didn’t talk to me directly, but they told my coach over there that whenever I wanted to come back, there was a spot waiting for me on a pro team,” says Carr. “That just showed me the possibilities of what playing this game can do.”
He’s also added to his prodigious reputation with his play in the Carmelo Anthony Pro-Am this summer, where people are still abuzz over a game in July when he dropped his defender and attacked the Sacramento Kings’ 6-11 DeMarcus Cousins in the paint.
With Cousins trying to block his shot, Carr floated at high altitude from one side of the rim to the other, kissing the ball gently off the glass with cue-ball English at an indescribable angle. He finished with 18 points and six assists, played only half the game and was the only high school athlete on the floor. Smiling from ear to ear, Cousins lifted him in the air with a playful bear hug at the game’s conclusion.
When the NBA’s Baltimore Bullets fled to Washington, D.C. in 1973, and with no major college program in town, rabid hoops fans directed all of their passions toward the city’s top prep players and programs. Remnants of the existing vacuum are still evident today. This winter’s elementary school championships drew a crowd to a high school gym that far exceeded the fire marshall’s limit.
In Baltimore, basketball is not some mere diversion or extra-curricular activity. It’s woven into the daily fabric of being.
For people that suggest that Carr should pack his bags to attend a national prep hoops factory like Oak Hill Academy or Findlay Prep, they simply don’t understand what he means to the city, and what the city means to him.
People struggling through financial distress, unemployment, frightening crime and homicide rates and a deepening recession leave the gym after a Patterson game feeling better about their own lives, encouraged by the vitality of this burgeoning talent displaying his originality and rare ingenuity. His connection with crowds has moved beyond the entertainment sphere and into a spiritual one.
In early August, within the heart of East Baltimore at the photo shoot for this story, speeding motorists screech to a crawl while passing by, some enthusiastically yelling through open windows. “We see you shining boy! Keep making us proud, son!”
Carr smiles, nods his head and cheerfully resumes taking directions from the photographer.