In the past two years, junior point guard Aquille Carr
has drawn comparisons to Charm City legends Muggsy Bogues and Shawnta Rogers, both of whom were diminutive point guards with a knack for dropping jaws.
Carr says he's not trying to emulate anyone. He's himself on the court, a 5-foot-7 stick of dynamite contorting his body in unique ways to elude shot blockers and score buckets.
Even when his ability to cross defenders over was compared to Allen Iverson, Carr halfheartedly laughs. It's clear he wants to be his own player striving to make his own name.
Named the Baltimore Metro Player of the Year in 2010, Carr averaged 31.7 points per game for Patterson (Baltimore)
. His highlight reel from HoopMixtape.com has generated almost 2.5 million views on YouTube and the viral sensation studies his own film to incorporate more moves into his previous ones.
Carr led the Clippers to the state championship game last season, where they fell to North Point 76-72. He believes that with his leadership and the team around him that Patterson will be able to capture a state championship, a year after winning its first city championship since 1976.
"We have a good enough team to make it," Carr said. "If we don't make it there's something wrong."
Carr has generated a lot of buzz around Baltimore with his style of play. He's been given the nickname "The Crime Stopper," as the city itself stops to come see him in action.
"They say when I play, the crime rate goes down," Carr said. "Mostly everybody is at my basketball game watching me play. It's a quiet Baltimore city."
Carr noticed he was becoming a main attraction in Baltimore after scoring 39 points against Lake Clifton during his freshman season. He hasn't failed to impress those fans, evidenced by scoring a school-record 58 points in a Christmas tournament game last season.
"The only person that will stop Aquille is Aquille," said Patterson basketball coach Harry Martin. "If he wants to make it to the next level and make it professionally, and he puts in the work, I don't think anything will stop him."
Carr has worked on his outside and mid-range shot, something Martin said he was hoping to see improve this season. Carr has an innate ability to finish around the basket against big defenders (his 48-inch vertical helps), but would like to add another element to his game to make him even more diverse.
One of his priorities this season is to get his teammates more involved on offense. He admitted he would sometimes place too much of the workload on himself last season.
"I probably tried to do too much, more than I had to," Carr said. "This year I have a good team to where I don't have to do too much. We have more shooters and scorers this year."
Guard Shakir Brown
, forward Nymee Manns
and center Leonard Livingston
transferred to Patterson this season and should help Carr tremendously on offense. Livingston, a 6-10 center, gives Carr a big presence down low to help take pressure off him on the perimeter.
"It's my first time in high school having a big (center)," Carr said. "It's helped me out a lot. He can do a lot. He can rebound, block shots, he can jump, he can shoot. He's really got the whole package."
Said Livingston: "It's going to open a lot of things up for him. Most of the time when he's driving, he doesn't have anybody to come clean up for him. That's what I do."
Carr, a four-star recruit according to MaxPreps, said Seton Hall, Memphis and Texas have been recruiting him hard. He's also heard from LSU, South Florida and Baylor. Memphis, Kentucky, Syracuse, Xavier, Wake Forest and Arkansas have been in the mix as well. He's not in any rush to decide, saying he's letting the recruiting process play out.
Carr will have a chance to showcase his abilities on a national stage at times this year as Patterson has accepted invitations to play games in New York, Washington D.C., Milwaukee and Philadelphia.
Martin said he's always asked who his star point guard reminds him of. He responds "No one," though concedes he hears the Bogues and Rogers comparisons. Martin added the old-school basketball lovers in Baltimore say Carr is better than them at this stage of his career.
But Patterson's coach sees Carr more as an extension of his staff out on the floor.
"We talk about basketball IQ a lot and knowledge of the game, how to use a screen, how to read defenses, those type of things where he's gotten better," Martin said. "It's like having an assistant coach on the floor for me. His basketball IQ is really high."
Carr's height, or lack thereof, has forced him to play the style of basketball he plays. He first picked up a basketball when he was 4 and is usually the smallest player on the court. But that hasn't stopped him from playing much bigger than his size.
"I've always been little so I've always had to work harder than the next person," Carr said.