Volume 92, Issue 93
Wednesday, March 24, 1999
Two roads, same plan for McGrady and Carter
© Randy Quan/Gazette
PICK ME TEACHER, PICK ME! Raptors' sophomore forward Tracy McGrady (1) took a different route than his cousin, forward Vince Carter (15, above), but both have flourished since hooking up together in Toronto.
By Randy Quan
TORONTO For most students, the end of March signifies the end of the school year and the beginning of the hectic exam season.
For the two youngest Raptors, 22-year-old forward/guard Vince Carter and his cousin, 19-year-old forward Tracy McGrady, the end of March signifies a beginning more than end.
Both players are beginning to show they are key to the team's franchise and have bright futures ahead of them. However, it is their past which has been the foundation from which they leap towards stardom.
While both players took completely different routes to get where they are today, both have agreed their education plays a very important role in their lives.
In the 1998 National Basketball Association entry draft, Carter was drafted fifth overall by the Golden State Warriors and immediately traded to the Toronto Raptors for the rights to fourth overall pick Antawn Jamison. During his three years at the University of North Carolina, Carter was named first team all-Atlantic Coast and second team all-America honours in the 1997/1998 season.
Carter welcomed talk about his university days and said he often reminisces about being a Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina. He added his years there were an experience of a lifetime. "I have no regrets," Carter said.
For many graduated students, finding a job and relocating for the first time can be a difficult and lonely endeavour. For Carter, it was an easier transition. "In the NBA, it's totally different," Carter said. "Here, you get to play against a lot of the guys you played against in university it's like a reunion out here."
On the other hand, McGrady, following the likes of Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, opted against attending university and jumped directly into the NBA at the tender age of 18. McGrady, chosen by Toronto in the 1997 entry draft, was that year's ninth overall selection. The highly touted high school senior from Mt. Zion Christian Academy averaged in his final year 27.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game. He earned numerous honours including being named to the McDonald's all-America team, USA Today's player of the year and player of the year in the state of North Carolina by The Associated Press.
McGrady struggled early through his inaugural season, missing 11 games due to various injuries. However, he made a strong improvement by the end of the season starting the last 11 games and averaging 11.2 points and 8.0 rebounds in 33.3 minutes per game.
While most NBA players hone their skills at university, McGrady was quick to respond when asked if he felt he entered the NBA too early. "I don't really regret skipping university," McGrady said. "For me, I wanted to get into the NBA as fast as possible." He does, however, acknowledge the importance of a post secondary education.
"I'm still going to take courses during the off-season," he said. "I can't play basketball forever."
Copyright © The Gazette 1999