• Traci Carter - A Hard Worker On & Off The Court

    Marquette landed a commitment from 2015 PG Traci Carter

    Less than two months ago, Traci Carter was asked about his top colleges & Marquette was nowhere on that list. Today, he committed to play his college basketball at Marquette.

    After Nick Noskowiak decommitted from Marquette, there was a clear need at the point guard position. The staff began pursuing Carter in January & really turned up the heat in February. What kind of player is Marquette getting? I spoke to Delgreco Wilson, one of the men who helped Carter develop into the student-athlete he is today, about what Carter had to offer.

    “Traci is just a tough, tough hard-nosed Philly guard,” Wilson said. “He's a capable scorer, but I think his strongest assets are his handle, vision & passing ability. He does a very good job of pressuring ball-handlers & never backs down from a challenge.” Listening to that description sounds like exactly the type of player Wojiechowski is looking for. Wilson compares Carter’s game to former Villanova star & current Toronto Raptor All-Star Kyle Lowry. With players like Duane Wilson, Jajuan Johnson, & Henry Ellenson around him, the pressure won’t be on Carter early to score. What Marquette needs is a distributor that can hold his own on defense. Though when asked about what part of his game Carter is working on, it’s reassuring to hear Wilson say this about his shot: “I think he can become a very good 3 point shooter over time.”

    For head coach Steve Wojciechowski, this may be his most impressive recruiting battle victory to date. Sandy Cohen, Nick Noskowiak (later released), Wally Ellenson, Henry Ellenson, & Matt Heldt are all quality recruits, but are also all in-state kids. Wojo beat out Georgetown & Cal for Haanif Cheatham, but he made the Florida native a priority shortly after getting the Marquette job, which allowed more time to win the battle. Last month, Sacar Anim picked Marquette over St. John's, Northern Iowa & Northwestern. As impressive as it was for the staff to get in on Anim late in the process, he put off his commitment in hopes of landing an offer from a school as prestigious as Marquette.

    That’s not the case with Carter. His offer list includes the defending national champion Connecticut, a tournament regular from the ACC in NC State, & other prominent programs including Xavier, Cincinnati, & Memphis. All of them are closer to home than Milwaukee & have coaches with a track record of success. So how did Wojo get the commitment? “Wojo played point guard for Coach K. Wojo coached under Coach K for years,” Wilson said. “Traci feels that he can help him develop into one of the best point guards in the nation. I think Wojo just flat ‘outworked’ the other guys.

    “Traci is true fan of college basketball. As such, he has a solid understanding of what Marquette University & the Big East Conference represent,” Wilson continues, “He wants to play at the highest level & Marquette represents that for Traci. From my conversations with Traci, the most important factor was the relationship he has developed with Wojo. He worked really hard to establish a rapport with Traci. Traci respects the ‘hard work’ Wojo put in.”

    One of the biggest focuses we’ve heard from Coach Wojiechowski from his first day on the job was how he wanted to build the character of the program. I was curious to learn how Traci would fit in at Marquette. When talking about Carter’s past, Wilson notes that he grew up in a tough part of South Philadelphia. He was raised primarily by his grandmother, but really began to grow as a man thanks to finding the game of basketball. Through basketball, he met Donnie Carr & Rashid Bey, two local college hoops legends that took Carter under their wing.

    In addition to growing up in a rough neighborhood, Carter has also dealt with his share of injuries. He missed his entire freshman year with a knee injury, & also suffered a torn meniscus that required surgery in April, 2014. The timing could not have seemed worse as Carter missed the crucial summer AAU recruiting period that makes or breaks the careers of so many young men. But instead of letting it get him down, he focused on his academics & his rehab.

    Wilson has known Traci since he was in seventh grade & has been by his side to make sure he understood what he needed to do to earn a college scholarship. Wilson dedicates himself to making sure that student-athletes know that talent & hard work on the court isn’t enough, it takes hard work in the classroom & understanding what needs to be done there to play at the next level. Wilson told me “Traci has really matured over the past three years. He took control of his academic fate & constantly monitored his core course GPA & test score results.”

    For Carter, his high school work is just about done. He’s made the grade on the court & scored well in the classroom to earn a scholarship from Marquette. But as soon as he arrives in Milwaukee, his work will begin all over again. With a focus on culture, I was interested in what kind of young man Marquette is getting in Carter. Wilson was happy to give his take. “Traci is very engaging. I think his fellow students & young fans of Marquette basketball will really enjoy interacting with him. More than most young men his age, I feel that Traci is ready to leave Philadelphia & find his way on the Marquette campus. He will be an asset to the learning, social, residential & athletic communities at Marquette. In my opinion, Marquette just got hold of Philly's finest!”

    Despite losing a point guard a month ago, Coach Wojo & his staff have done an excellent job of adding one right back to the mix. Carter sounds like a perfect fit for the program on & off the court. The last thing Wilson had to say was this: “He's the best we have to offer. Take care of my boy!”

    I’m confident the Marquette community will be happy to.