Traci Carter following in footsteps of cousin Dion Waiters

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Traci Carter, formerly of Roman Catholic, will be getting a new chance at Life Center Academy. (Photo: Josh Verlin)

Traci Carter, formerly of Roman Catholic, will be getting a new chance at Life Center Academy. (Photo: Josh Verlin)

Jeff McDevitt (@JeffMcDev)

After playing the last season at Roman Catholic, Traci Carter will begin a new era of his high school basketball career at Life Center Academy (NJ) in the fall.

An athletic 6-foot-1 point guard averaged 7.6 points a game for the Cahillites. However, some personal issues at the school forced Carter to leave, and he will enroll at Life Center next year.

valiers guard Dion Waiters, who happens to be Carter’s cousin. Waiters’ being an alumnus of Life Center made the decision of where to spend the next two years easy for Carter.

“He definitely had an influence, him being my cousin; I definitely wanted to follow in his footsteps. I needed a new environment,” Carter said.

“I think it’s a big step, from leaving the city and going out there where you’re away from everybody and you really get to focus,” Waiters said about his experience at Life Center, which is a Christian boarding school in Burlington, NJ. “It’s a great opportunity for him to learn how to live on his own and mature fast. That’s what helped me growing up. When you’re away from everybody and you have access to a gym 24 hours a day, you have nothing to do but be in the gym, and I think that’s a big thing for him.”

“I feel like it’s a new beginning, but I definitely am going to miss Roman, the staff, and especially the head coach, Chris McNesby because they helped me a lot. The entire staff improved my game,” Carter said.

Among the obvious improvement he has made as a shoot-first point guard in the past year, Carter said that McNesby and the staff at Roman helped Carter learn the little things he needed to play at the next level including more advanced terminology of the game and how to navigate pick and rolls on both offense and defense.

Carter has been one guard in the 2015 class that has used the several all-star showcases across the city early this spring to set himself apart from other guards in the talented class. He went toe-to-toe with Rysheed Jordan in the Battle of Brotherly Love, scoring 20 points for his South Philly squad which Waiters coached. In the All-City Classic, Carter showed his ball-stopping skills, winning the defensive MVP of the 2015 game while still dropping 12 points.

“My mindset on the court is that I have no friends,” Carter told CoBL after the All-City Classic. “I don’t like to lose, so I put in my head that I am not losing,”

Carter said his offer list up to this point included Villanova, St. Joe’s, Penn State, Syracuse, and Georgetown, and that he wants to go somewhere that is a “good fit.”

It’s clear Carter has been set up for success, with a cousin who grew up two blocks from him on Carpenter Street who starred at Syracuse, the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, and chosen to this year’s NBA All-Rookie First Team.

“He seen where I came from. I was the same kid. I worked hard and I was motivated to become successful,” Waiters said.

Waiters insisted Carter is on the right track to success that he was on as a high school sophomore. A player needs that competitive fire burning inside them to continue to improve, and the drive to succeed that exceeds their opponent. Waiters had it and still has it, and Carter, with his ‘no friends’ mantra, is cut from the same cloth.

“That’s how you’ve got to be. When you’re on the court there’s no friends in between those lines until after the game. He’s got to continue to have that same mindset. He’s got that toughness in him like I had. I was a little bit more athletic than him. He’s crafty, he can do a lot with the ball. All he has to do is keep working, and have something to motivate you, and then destroy it, “Waiters said.

“I didn’t smile on the court, that’s why everyone thought I was mean.”

In the meantime, Carter will spend the rest of the summer playing with his powerhouse WE R1 16U AAU squad, and the offers should to continue to pile up. If you ask him, he won’t be making any friends in the process.

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