The news broke Saturday night that Nahziah Carter, a 6-foot-5 forward from Rochester, N.Y., had verbally committed to the Dayton Flyers. Carter sat behind the bench during Dayton’s season-opening 96-68 victory over Austin Peay on Friday.
“It was nothing like I imagined,” Carter told the Dayton Daily News on Sunday. “The crowd numbers are very intriguing, and the student section is very intuitive. It gets loud. They really cheer on the team with their full support so when the team is on a run it seems to almost last forever.”
Not long after Carter posted his news to Twitter, Evan Daniels, of Scout.com, created a bigger buzz around the story. He posted a Tweet with the nugget that Carter is the nephew of rap star Shawn Carter, better known as Jay Z.
Fans immediately started picturing a Senior Day in 2021 featuring Jay Z at courtside at UD Arena with his equally-famous wife Beyoncé plus the Greek Freak, Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose brother Kostas will be a UD senior in 2020-21. One fan, Matt Allaire, who runs FlyerFaithful.com, even photoshopped the three sitting together into a crowd photo.
On Sunday, Carter’s high school coach, Kevin Goode, of Bishop Kearney in Rochester, confirmed Carter’s connection to entertainment royalty and said the family is close. Carter’s dad Eric is Jay Z’s older brother.
The Flyers may have gained two fans who have won 41 Grammy Awards between them, but more importantly, they added another piece of the recruiting puzzle for 2017. Carter joins guards McKinley Wright and Jordan Davis and forward Jordan Pierce in a four-man class. Antetokounmpo, in a way, will be a part of that class because he’s sitting out this season as a partial qualifier and will debut in 2017-18.
Dayton has still has one scholarship open in the 2017 class. Carter will be Dayton’s first recruit from Rochester since Gamal Gilchrist, who played for UD from 1999-2001. Goode described Carter as a phenomenal scorer and good athlete. He’s a three-star recruit who ranked 53rd at his position in the class of 2017, according to ESPN.
“He’s going to fit right into the system they’re playing,” Goode said. “He’s a true gym rat, always focusing on how he can get better. His 1-on-1 skills are phenomenal. He’s very hard to guard. He’s been growing every year since eighth grade, two inches, three inches. I want to say he grew another 2½ inches over the summer. He’s gotten stronger. We did a lot of weight training. He’s just going to be a man child in high school. He can jump out of the gym. He’s an exciting player.”
Carter was considering a year in prep school until recently. That’s why VerbalCommits.com listed him as a member of the 2018 class.
Carter was the youngest player on the City Rocks Nike EYBL team last summer. He was 16. City Rocks President Jimmy Hart said two thirds of the players in that league are 18, and the other third are 17.
Carter was a full year younger than most of the players and still led the team in field-goal percentage (59.2) and 3-point percentage (46.4). He averaged 10.7 points per game on a team full of Division I prospects, including Hameir Wright, the 16th-ranked recruit in the class of 2018.
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“This is a great get for Dayton,” Hart said. “The good thing for him is he’s a smart kid. He gets it. He’ll develop more under coach (Archie) Miller than he would in a prep school. Longer term this is a better decision for him. He’s a good student. He wants to go to college. He didn’t really want to go to prep school. A lot of people said to him, ‘Oh Naz, you’re only 16. The other kids are 17 or 18. You’re a perfect candidate.’ And he is. But some kids are trying to find a way to game the system. ‘If I do this, I’ll be ranked higher.’ Naz isn’t about that.”
Carter will graduate in the spring and play at Dayton next season. Last season, he had Iona and a couple smaller schools recruiting him. The recruiting picked up when coaches took notice of Carter while going to Bishop Kearney to see Quinton Rose, who’s now a freshman at Temple. Providence was another school that recruited Carter.
“All the coaches coming into see him were loving Nahziah,” Goode said. “After the first couple games this past AAU season, that’s when it really picked up. They started seeing the type of player he can be and how he’ll fit certain programs.”
Dayton first called Goode about Carter in the middle of last summer. Assistant coach Allen Griffin, who played at Syracuse, 87 miles from Rochester, led the recruiting effort.
“They couldn’t wait to come see him,” Goode said. “We had workouts in the gym. They’ve been out three times expressing interest. He had a sprained ankle, and he wasn’t able to work out. They still came anyway to show how interested they were in him. The coaches did a wonderful job describing the atmosphere to him, the expectations of what goes on at Dayton, and it just sparked his interest. He wanted to go out there and see what it’s like. Everything that was described to him was exactly as he pictured it, and he wanted to be a part of it.”
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Carter said the coaches sold him on “the players having their own space and not having to share rooms, everything being pretty close so it’s easy to get to classes, the gym, etc. The players are fed pretty well. I was stuffed and still saw food on every corner. They mixed my own film with theirs, showing me how well I fit in their program. I loved how the coaches really only focus on the necessary. Speaking to them, they tend not to participate in the more unnecessary things that they believe will not better you as a person, student and athlete, and they’re like a family. I really loved their relationships with the players but especially their relationships and interactions with the player’ families. It’s really a warm family community.”
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