Five-star point guard D.J. Carton commits to Ohio State
The whirlwind recruitment of D.J. Carton — the 12-month explosion of a kid who became arguably the country's best point guard in the Class of 2019 — has reached its conclusion.
Carton, a consensus top-20, five-star prospect out of Bettendorf, Iowa, committed to Ohio State on Saturday. He announced his decision via Twitter.
The Buckeyes beat out Indiana and Michigan, the other two schools in Carton's final three. Carton had previously released a top six in June that also included Iowa, Xavier and Marquette.
"He had been searching for that gut feeling for a while. When he took the visit to Ohio State, he said that’s what really stuck out," Bettendorf head coach Curtis Clark said. "It just felt like the right place for him."
Rivals ranks Carton the No. 17 prospect in the class and the No. 4 point guard. 247Sports ranks him No. 20 in 2019 and No. 2 among point guards. He was also receiving interest from Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Wichita State; it's not out of the question the blue bloods still take a look at him this July.
Ohio State made a major statement in Carton's recruitment back in April, when it sent its whole staff to watch Carton in Minnesota on the first day of the April 27-29 evaluation period. No other school did that.
Clark said the Buckeyes did well making it crystal clear to Carton that he was their top priority — especially by carving out time during a critical July evaluation period to host him for an official visit this week.
"It’s kind of unprecedented," Clark said.
Carton averaged 23.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 steals for Bettendorf as a junior en route to his All-Iowa honorable mention selection.
It wasn't long ago that the 6-foot-2, 195-pound lefty was a small sophomore who turned a few heads at the 2017 state basketball tournament with his natural play-making ability. That spring and summer, Carton worked his way onto the Midwest's radar and earned offers from Wisconsin, Marquette and Northern Iowa.
Then, he just kept improving. His athleticism and passing were always strengths, but his shot began to smooth out. His long frame bulked up. His handle tightened. His court vision became among the best in the region. Soon, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota tipped the Big Ten scales.
Carton saw his results thanks to his work ethic, plain and simple, Bettendorf head coach Curtis Clark said.
"He’s one of the only players I’ve ever had a conversation with to pull him back, where I thought he was doing too much," Clark told the Register when Carton first saw his stock surge last spring and summer.
This winter, Carton vaulted 83 spots from No. 121 to No. 38 in 247Sports' 2019 rankings, cementing him as a legitimate elite prospect for this class.
It was hard to believe Carton could see his stock rise even more.
But it did.
Carton blew up — again — this spring with Quad City Elite and picked up offers from his final three schools in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio State. The once-overlooked kid from Iowa dazzled scouts in June at the U18 National Team Trials and the NBPA Top 100 Camp, where 247Sports director of scouting Jerry Meyer called Carton the best point guard prospect in attendance.
"A lot of it is just confidence on his part," Carton's father, Dale, told the Register in June. "He was always very athletic, and then he got the dribbling part, and then the IQ came where he could pass and he saw the court very well. Now, he’s even getting physically stronger and now playing against the other guys thinking, 'I can beat these guys. I went to USA camp and I was one of the best ones there.'
"He’s just so much more mature on the court. He sees things and it slows down. He says, 'I can slow the game down. They don’t speed me up like they used to.'"
In the end, Ohio State picks up one of the hottest gems of 2019. Carton's growth has been almost exponential these past 12 months. Coaches are so excited about him as a prospect because that exponential growth projects to continue.
Carton will compete immediately for the starting point guard job in Columbus. At minimum, he should land the back-up role behind Florida State transfer C.J. Walker.
"That was a major part of it. When you look at their roster at the guard position, it’s probably the most open out of the three programs," Clark said.
Michigan and Indiana got Carton's first two official visits at the end of June. He took this week off AAU basketball to visit Ohio State.
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 email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.