Robert Carter said he loved his Georgia Tech team. He praised coach Brian Gregory. However, the sophomore forward said that, for the sake of his basketball future, it was necessary to make what he called one of the toughest decisions of his life — to walk away from Tech after two seasons.
“My plans are just to open it up now and then just see who wants to recruit me and then make a decision based on who’s recruited me and then who has what I want, who can help me achieve my goals the best,” he said Thursday in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Those goals, he said, are going to the NCAA tournament and developing his game and body to play professionally.
“Georgia Tech was a good school, a great school,” he said. “I just felt like I needed to put myself in a better position to accomplish the goals that I set for myself, and that’s it.”
At Tech, he started 49 of the 54 games in which he played. His scoring, rebounding and field-goal percentage improved from his freshman to his sophomore seasons, up to 11.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and a field-goal percentage of 46.7. After missing 10 games with a meniscus tear, he finished the season impressively, averaging 16.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in the final six games of the season. He even made the dean’s list this past semester.
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This season, in part because of several injuries and occasional lapses in play, Tech finished 16-17, falling short of its goal of a postseason tournament.
Carter called Gregory a great coach and a good person and said that “I love the team.”
But, he said, he came to his conclusion to leave after spending time reviewing the season and thinking about what he needed to do to better himself as a player. The decision was a shock to those within the program. Carter, born and reared in Thomasville, was part of Gregory’s first signing class and considered a foundational part of Tech’s rebuilding efforts. Carter said he understood there would be criticism and confusion regarding his decision.
“It’ll be all right,” he said. “I’ve just got to continue, just go forward.”
He also asserted that “this is definitely my decision. Nobody’s in my ear.”
Carter declined to identify interested teams, but said “a lot of schools” have called to express their interest. While speculation has centered on Auburn, Maryland and South Carolina, Carter said “none of those are definite. It’s still open right now.” He said the decision-making process “should be pretty quick.”
Carter’s recruitment caused a disagreement between Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski and Georgia counterpart Greg McGarity. Tech restricted Carter from transferring within the ACC and to Georgia, which Tech plays annually, a practice Bobinski called standard. Georgia does not place restrictions on athletes seeking to transfer. McGarity contacted Bobinski for permission for his coaches to speak with Carter, but Bobinski refused.
“In this case, we’re going to disagree on how things are handled,” Bobinski said. “That’s fine. Sometimes that happens.”
Said Carter, “I’ve been at Georgia Tech too long to be able to go to Georgia.”
Asked if he had a message for Tech fans, Carter said, “Thank you for supporting me. I’ll always have a place in my heart for Georgia Tech.”
Carter is part of a growing trend in the college game. Last year, more than 500 Division I players transferred, about 1 1/2 per team.
The cycle continued Thursday at Tech, where coaches were busy entertaining a player who could possibly help fill the gap, Ole Miss center Demarco Cox. A 6-foot-8, 276-pound center who averaged 4.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 16.6 minutes last season, Cox is expected to graduate this summer and would be immediately eligible to play his senior season. His AAU coach, Omahr Carter, said Cox is leaning toward Tech.