D.J. Carton recruiting: Fran McCaffery, John Beilein among swarm of coaches watching Friday in Minnesota
MINNETONKA, Minn. — I'll be out here at Hopkins High School just outside Minneapolis all weekend covering elite four-star point guard D.J. Carton at the 2018 NY2LA Spring Extravaganza. Expect thoughts/observations from each of the three days, plus an updated scouting report and plenty of content for next week.
Since Carton's Quad City Elite only played one game on Friday, these thoughts/observations won't be as long as Saturday's and Sunday's.
But let's get to it.
There was no shortage of coaches on hand to watch Carton. The game before featured some nice Division II prospects with some D-II coaches watching from the baseline. I kept waiting for Division I guys to show up.
All of a sudden, I hear, "Hey Fran!" behind me.
It was Michigan head coach John Beilein calling over Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery to chat for about 15 minutes before Carton's game tipped. I believe Beilein had assistant coach Luke Yaklich with him. McCaffery was Iowa's only representative Friday, and he watched closely from his seat along the baseline.
From what I could see, Ohio State's Chris Holtmann and all three Buckeye assistant coaches were on hand — that's a big statement to send your full staff to watch a prospect on the first night, especially with so many of the shoe-brand kids playing in Atlanta and Indianapolis.
Minnesota's Richard Pitino and Ed Conroy were also here. Wisconsin's Greg Gard and Joe Krabbenhoft were here too, as well as Indiana associate head coach Tom Ostrom. Missouri's Cuonzo Martin was also here at Hopkins, but he was watching a different court. NY2LA tweeted that Marquette's Steve Wojciechowski and a Michigan State assistant were in the building, too.
I'm told Iowa State is expected to come watch Carton on Saturday.
But back to Ohio State: If it hadn't done so before, it made it clear to Carton that he is a priority by sending all four coaches to watch him Friday.
All those coaches didn't see a great game from Carton, but that doesn't matter too much right now. Carton could get to the rim pretty easily, but he struggled to finish all game.
By my count, he wound up with 11 points on 5 of 15 shooting in QCE's 51-50 win over Midwest Unsigned. He hit the game-winning free throw with 2.4 seconds left. He added four rebounds, two assists and a steal.
He missed his first four shots before he spun in a lay-up under the basket on his fifth shot. I heard a few golf claps from the coaches around me after that.
Carton still was able to show off a couple of the reasons he's become a national prospect with offers that span 2,800 miles from Los Angeles to New York City. He consistently pushed the ball in transition, whether that meant him finding a teammate in the corner with a long-range missile pass, or him driving inside before kicking it out to a teammate for an open 3-ball.
He defended well and used his length to clog passing lanes and alter shots. He was selfless and let his teammates have theirs. But he just never found his offensive rhythm on this night.
Perhaps Carton’s best moment came with four minutes left: He drew a double-team on the perimeter, dribbled to his left and rifled a spot-on pass between the two defenders to his teammate in the low post.
The only problem? It was such a perfect pass that his teammate didn’t expect it. It bounced off several arms down low and wound up a turnover.
Carton and QCE will play two games tomorrow. I'll have updates all day.
Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.