Look around at NBA draft projections and national Top 100 lists and you won’t often find Maryland junior Robert Carter, Jr. Transfers years have a way of making you slip back under the radar, even if you routinely flirted with double-doubles in the ACC before you left.
But that’s just fine with Carter.
“I don’t expect people to remember me right now,” he told CSN at the team’s media day earlier this month. “I sat out a whole year. I’ve been putting in a lot of work. I feel like I worked the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life, so I feel like getting on the court with this team I’ll be able to do some special things and I will pop back on the radar.”
He has the tools. When he was still 25 pounds overweight at Georgia Tech, he averaged 11 points and eight rebounds. Since he has come to Maryland, coach Mark Turgeon says the Georgia native has cut his body fat percentage in half and expanded his game.
“I had a whole year of offseason, but it was fun,” Carter said. “[Strength and conditioning coach] Kyle Tarp, he’s amazing. He challenged me every day to be the best I can be. I wasn’t playing, so I had to change my diet, my work habits in the weight room.
“I felt like I always worked hard on the court, but the weight room he challenged me.”
The result is a more agile and versatile player who, at times, will be asked to defend guards when Maryland plays big lineups that could feature Carter, freshman Diamond Stone, senior Jake Layman, junior Damonte Dodd, and sophomore Michal Cekovsky in any sort of combination.
His 7-2 wingspan helps him defensively, but the weight he has cut really makes it possible.
Add that to an offensive game that stretches out toward the perimeter and Carter is the type of player who could vault up draft boards and into the first round if he puts it all together.
“The best thing about Robert is what a great kid he is,” Turgeon said. “Talk about a basketball player all you want, but he’s just a great kid and he’s work hard.
“He’s hard as anybody, just trying to improve his game, improve his body since he’s been here so I hope he has a great year because he’s worked really hard.”