Duke and Harvard -- yes, Harvard -- are locked in a recruiting battle for one of the best high school basketball players in the country

Wendell Carter Jr. is one of the best high school basketball players in the country. At 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan, the senior at Atlanta’s Pace Academy is currently listed at no. 3 on ESPN’s Class of 2017 recruiting ranking, and he is already projected to go as high as third overall in the 2018 NBA Draft.  

But before Adam Silver can call his name, and before he can be paid for his supreme basketball abilities, Carter must first decide where he’ll play his college hoops. 

In late September, Carter announced on Twitter that he had narrowed his college decision down to four schools: Georgia, Georgia Tech, Duke, and Harvard.

Yes, Harvard.

Because along with basketball, Carter also takes AP Calculus, enjoys theatre (he missed a weekend of AAU basketball because of his role as a handyman in his school’s production of You Can’t Take It With You), and he boasts a GPA that is — as he put it apologetically to SB Nation  — “only” a 3.6. 

On the one hand, that Harvard is among Carter’s final four schools makes complete sense. He’s an extremely bright high school senior, and where do the best high schoolers apply if not the Ivy League? 

But in the world of one-and-done basketball, where blue-chip high schoolers play one season at the same, say, 10 powerhouse programs before immediately entering the draft, Harvard is not a school that ever lands top recruits thanks in part to their lack of athletic scholarships. 

“For a lot of great basketball players, it’s either Duke, Kentucky or Arizona,” Carter told SB Nation. “I’m thinking about doing something different.”

His parents, both former professional basketball players themselves, are hoping he does pick that school outside of Cambridge. 

“That’s our choice for Wendell,” Kylia Carter told SB Nation. “We hope he chooses Harvard. It just smelt academic. It felt it, it smelt it, it looked it, it was really a great experience. I don’t see how anyone would not want to pursue that academically. It’s just awesome.”

In August, she noted that Harvard had more of a shot at landing her son than anyone — including Harvard itself — realised. 

“Just wait and see,” she said. “Just wait and see because I really think… I think Harvard has a better shot than people think. I think Harvard has a better shot than they even think… I really do.”

If Carter were to pick Harvard, he would major in business and continue classes even if he only stayed for one year. Although he hasn’t yet graduated from high school, it’s safe to say he would be the best basketball talent in program history — and only the third (behind Jeremy Lin and, in 1951, Ed Smith) to ever make the NBA. 

Or, Carter will choose Duke and play under Mike Krzyzewski. Seems like a win-win. 

Check out highlights from Carter’s game below:


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