Vernon Carey Jr. Not Satisfied With Past Accomplishments
The forward on the USA U17 World Cup team is striving to get better every day.
The list of accolades Vernon Carey Jr. is amassing on the basketball court is significant. And, it’s only going to grow with a year still to go in high school, then college and whatever comes next.
So, it was a little surprising to hear Carey admit to being nervous about his chances of making the 2018 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Cup Team. When he was asked about it during the team’s training camp in mid-June, Carey sounded a little shaky.
“I’m still kind of nervous if I’ll make the team,” Carey said.
It wasn’t necessarily what one might expect from a 6-foot-10, 277-pound forward who was named MVP of the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, leading the U.S. to a 5-0 record and gold medal. He also has won a Florida state championship for his high school and Peach Jam championship with his summer team and was named to the 2018 USA Today All-USA first team.
But Carey is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kind of guy. He’s not one to assume his previous accomplishments will earn new opportunities for him.
“I still have to go out there and compete,” Carey said.
Not every young player takes such a mature view of having great potential. Carey said he has learned through watching college coaches and players and NBA coaches and players that none of them care much about what they’ve done in the past. They’re constantly looking to the next challenge. He has adopted that mindset.
He also isn’t about to take for granted the opportunity to play for his country. He enjoyed the experience last summer and wants another one just like this year.
“It means a lot, because there are only 12 people in my age group in the whole USA going to represent us in Argentina (at the FIBA U17World Cup),” Carey said. “So, it would mean a lot to be a part of that.”
Carey said he tried to build on his coaching and the entire experience of playing for USA Basketball during his junior season in high school. He said he applied what he learned from USA coaches to his high school team as much as possible, and it helped him lead University School in Davie, Florida, to a 36-2 record and national runner-up finish in the GEICO High School Nationals.
Of course, Carey had a lot of help from a USA Basketball teammate who also is on his high school team. Scottie Barnes, a 6-foot-8 forward, also earned on a spot on the USA U17 World Cup Team. The two classmates and friends will make their second trip to Argentina later this month.
“It was just unbelievable, because I feel like our chemistry carried over from the U16 team to our high school season,” Carey said. “He’s a friend, a good friend.”
Carey admitted he wasn’t in great shape this spring, because he was injured briefly and didn’t do a lot of activity for several weeks. He said he came to training camp carrying extra weight but feels like he is working himself back into shape through the training and practices USA Basketball offers.
Carey is considered one of the best players in the 2019 class by college coaches and recruiting services. He has offers from more than 20 schools, including all the blue blood programs in the college game. He believes he still has room to improve as a high school player and his hard work at the prep level and for USA Basketball will help him reach his goals.
He also has experienced voices around him to help push him hard and make wise choices. His parents, LaTaviaand Vernon Carey Sr., have instilled an appreciation for education. He is a member of the honor roll at his high school. His father also played college football at the University of Miami and professionally for the Miami Dolphins, and his grandfather, Vincent Banks, played basketball at Oral Roberts University.
In addition to improving his conditioning, Carey said he is working on becoming a better defender and communicating with teammates on the court. He also wants to be more of a leader.
“I’m still working hard,” he said.