Upon his release from the NBA Development League, Aquille Carr started a purifying process around him, eliminating distractions and creating a gym regimen. The Delaware 87ers extended Carr an opportunity to train with them for the June NBA draft, but the former high school prodigy understood his run-ins with the team came with consequences and went noticed on the professional level.
So Carr cut his inner-circle, hired new representation (Daniel Hazan of Hazan Sports Management) and constructed a strategy to help rebuild his image. As a heralded phenom out of Maryland, Carr stumbled into problems away from the court. Now, a primary condition in his agency signing was a rebranding of himself through community events and youth basketball clinics in New York.
“I made a couple minor mistakes with Delaware, and I learned from them,” Carr told RealGM in a recent phone interview. “It will never happen again. Delaware was a great experience and I had a lot of fun there. Players and coaches taught me how to be a leader and be responsible. The D-League built my confidence up by playing against older people and more mature guys that played. I had to catch on fast, but I believe I have a good basketball IQ.”
In the weeks after being waived in January, his agency mapped workouts and appearances for Carr to visit elderly men and women and distribute food. Carr received the nickname “Crimestopper” in Baltimore, garnered prominence in an area averse in talent development, and he had been so immersed in this privileged environment, so removed from normalcy.
As Carr says of his experiences through community appearances, “I’ve been wanting to do them, but I didn’t have the support around me to finally go out there. As soon as I told my agency that I wanted to do community events, they were on it. I want to build a new brand, and I don’t want people to think about me as a bad person.”
Even now, Carr doesn’t regret turning pro overseas out of high school, declaring and then forgoing his basketball commitment at Seton Hall University. He wanted a path into the NBA the way Brandon Jennings carved – choosing professional money instead of the payment of tutelage and some sort of education – but stood at 5-foot-6 and became sidetracked.
Signing into the D-League suggested solidified advice, improved voices factoring in his decisions, and Carr averaged 10.7 points, 1.9 assists and 14 minutes in 10 games for Delaware, which drafted him in the third round. He scored 22 points in consecutive games in December. His shooting percentages – 39.1 percent from three-point range, 39.8 percent overall on nearly nine attempts per game – left him putting up more jumpers in the gym with the organization and now in his private workouts, but underscored elevated competition for him. The D-League’s become increasingly respectable, legitimate players old and new, and Carr joined several draft prospects using the platform to showcase in front of executives and scouts.
They all want the same achievement there, Carr noticed, players desiring their own shots and an NBA call-up opportunity. Still, the 20-year-old credits two guiding figures with Delaware: Kendall Marshall, now with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Damian Saunders.
“Kendall was the first one I stopped and asked him to teach me the game, given as long as he’s been playing,” Carr said. “I asked him how I can place people in the right spot, make people better, being more of a point guard, vocal and talkative.
“Damian is an older guy, more mature, and he told me to stay on the good path.”
Soon, Carr will formally declare for the upcoming draft, a hopeful second-round pick in a strong class. Should he go undrafted, has Carr pondered another run in the D-League or possibly another stint overseas?
“No, I haven’t looked past the draft,” Carr said. “My agency and I, we look forward to me getting drafted. I look at getting drafted and working hard until getting that day.”