Call it Rock Island basketball's tale of the not-much tape.|
When it comes to just how tall Rock Island point guard C.J. Carr is, Rocky coach Thom Sigel says he's not exactly sure.
"He's listed in the program as 5-foot-7, but that might be a bit much. Maybe 5-6, but that might be on the high side too," said Sigel.
It's a tall order, indeed, on determining Carr's down-to-the-half-inch measurement. Then again, this week's Metro Pacesetter for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus says when it comes to basketball significance, you'd don't need to worry about feet and inches.
"It's more about heart than height," said Carr, who spearheads the Rocks with a 13.7 scoring average, shooting 47 percent on field goals, 44 percent on 3-pointers and 69 percent from the free-throw line.
"I don't want teams to think they have any kind of advantage because of height. I want to show my skills and do what I can do."
What he does certainly gets attention, both from opposing teams and from spectators. At one of the State Farm Holiday Classic games in Normal, a dad seated behind press row during a Rocky game leaned over to his son and said, "If you want to see how to lead a basketball team, watch No. 0."
No. 0 would be Carr. The only significance to the number is that it's different, and just a little. The size of intent there doesn't matter either.
"He had No. 5 last year, Chasson Randle's number, but it was a bit too big on him," related Sigel. "We ordered him a smaller number and gave him a choice. No. 1 already was taken, so it was 2 or 0 or maybe 10. He wanted zero."
While the major college attention on Carr hasn't been zero – he's received an offer from Truman State in NCAA Division II – Sigel believes it should and would be more the more coaches see Carr play.
"If he was a true 5-9 or 5-10 guard, he would have more offers, without a doubt," Sigel said of Carr. "I tell him, just play. Don't get caught up in all of the rest. The height thing doesn't mean they won't come; it just means they want to see more, they want to get a second and third look."
What they would see would be a lot of scoring pop, plenty of passing zip, and a flair for on-court creativity and pzazz. A play that quickly comes to mind came in the Genesis Shootout, when after a Carr steal, an Assumption defender was right on top of him on the dribble to the other end. As he approached the basket, Carr adeptly faked a behind-the-back pass that left the Knight in the dark and the uncontested layup.
"We've seen it in practice," the coach said. "If guys have worked on things and they work, then so be it. It's part of who he is.
"He's toned some things down a bit from what we need him to do, but he does have a little flair to his game.
"One of the big questions for the next level would be defensively. A couple of times in AAU seasons, teams try to take advantage of the height difference. But C.J. does well. At both ends of the floor, he's been one of the smaller guys his whole life, so he's learned to adapt. When you wonder how he got off a shot that he did, he's learned that. It's what he's done all along."
Even though he has reaped rewards for what he has done during Rocky's 11-2 season, getting an All-Tournament award in RI' runner-up run at the Classic, Carr remains humble.
"It's a huge honor, and it's a team honor," said Carr, who averaged 12 points per tournament game, shooting 50 percent from the field. "My teammates get me the ball or are there for me to get it to them, and we have great coaching. I didn't do it by myself at all."
But he was the one noticed, the only Rock to be so honored.
And it's not likely that being one of the shortest, if not the shortest, standout in the field was the reason he stood out.
"I just want to go out and show everyone what I can do," Carr said. "I want to show that, no, height doesn't matter."
And what exactly IS that height?
"It's 5 foot 6 and a half," said Carr.
Not that it matters.
Favorite food: Pepperoni pizza.
Favorite school subject: History.
Favorite music: R&B.
Favorite sports team: L.A. Clippers.
Favorite athlete 5-foot-7 or under: Mugsy Bogues.
Best Christmas gift: Being with family.
Parents: Connie Carr, Rock Island, and Chis Carr, Davenport.
In the running
Derrick Stabler, Moline: Scored 40 points in three games on 15-of-24 field-goal shooting after moving back into a starter's role for the Maroons at the DeKalb Holiday Tournament.
Lexie Gerard, Moline: The freshman missed a double-double by one rebound in her first girls' basletball varsity start, at the Peoria Manual Tourney. In her first four varsity games, she averaged 8 points and 7.5 rebounds.
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