Maryland is likely to have three players selected during Thursday’s NBA Draft.
However, the most intriguing prospect to watch may be forward Robert Carter.
Carter has had an interesting path to the NBA. Coming out of high school, the Shiloh (Ga.) big man was a four-star recruit with several offers from high-major schools in the South.
Carter elected to stay close to home and attend Georgia Tech. After two seasons on a struggling ACC squad, he elected to transfer and ironically, Charles Mitchell ended up transferring to Georgia Tech after a pair of seasons at Maryland.
The Georgia native sat out the 2014-15 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but worked his tail off in practice. As a junior this past season, Carter averaged 12.3 points and 6.9 rebounds while blocking 1.3 shots per contest.
Carter was expected to return for his senior season in College Park, but he shocked many when he announced that he would be entering the NBA Draft and hiring an agent. He wasn’t slated to even be drafted despite a solid junior campaign.
Heading into the NBA Scouting Combine, Carter had a lot of work to do in order to prove himself to scouts. During five-on-five scrimmage, he did just that.
Carter elevated his stock to that of a player that will likely be selected towards the middle of the second round.
What exactly makes Carter so appealing at the NBA level?
It all starts with how versatile Carter is.
He can play at either of the frontcourt spots and his athleticism allows him to guard just about any player. Most big men aren’t going to venture out to the arc and attempt to lock down an opposing guard.
However, Carter has no problem with such tasks.
In the play above, Denzel Valentine had the ball in his possession on the perimeter and Matt Costello came up and set a pick for Valentine to clear out Rasheed Sulaimon. However, Carter came up with Costello and when Costello set the pick, Carter stepped out beyond the arc and rotated to defend Valentine.
The possession eventually needed with a three-pointer for the Spartans, but Valentine didn’t have a chance to make a play and was forced to give up the basketball.
Carter also defends pretty well in the post and is very active with his hands. He can oftentimes force the post player he’s guarding to dish the ball or take a contested shot. The former Terp had at least one block in 23 of Maryland’s 36 games last season and multiple blocks in 11 games.
He also isn’t afraid to provide help defense in an effort to defend the paint.
As impressive as Carter can be at times on the defensive end, he’s an absolute force offensively.
Carter can stretch the floor like few players can. The former Yellow Jacket has a tremendous post game and is extremely quick off the dribble.
When he’s around the basket, Carter uses his patented hook shot to score a good amount of the time. It’s a fluid motion that is made possible by Carter being in control of his body at all times.
The most crucial part of Carter’s game is his ability to shoot from the perimeter.
The former four-star recruit hasn’t ever been afraid to shoot the jumper. However, it hasn’t always went down with regularity.
During his two seasons at Georgia Tech, Carter only shot 27.4 percent from beyond the arc and was attempting 2.2 long-range shots per game.
Carter improved his jump shot during his one season at Maryland. During the 2015-16 season, he shot 33.3 percent from three and was very efficient.
Carter only attempted more than three long-range shots in five games this past season. He’s the type of player that knows that he can hit those shots, but doesn’t chuck them up in large volumes.
Carter is one of only a handful of players that has seen their stock rise in a big way over the last month. His performance at the Scouting Combine was superb enough to make many teams take a second look at the former Maryland star.
Carter probably isn’t going to put up All-Star numbers right off the bat, but his talent speaks for itself. If he stayed in College Park for his senior season, he could’ve even been a first round pick next year.
However, there’s a ton of upside with a player as versatile as Carter and that what makes him so attractive to NBA teams.