Carter-Williams goes 11th to Sixers

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Carter-Williams goes 11th to Sixers

By Matthew Fairburn

Back in the spring of 2008, the Boston Amateur Basketball Club was dominating in a first-round game of an AAU district tournament against a team thrown together by Zach Zagrowski, the stepfather of Michael Carter-Williams.

The scoreboard displayed a lopsided score in BABC’s favor, but CarterWilliams, who had recently completed his freshman season at Hamilton-Wenham High School, didn’t stop attacking. He knew he had a chance to prove himself against an elite program.

“I knew it would be a great opportunity, and I just tried to make the best out of it,” Carter-Williams said.

Carter-Williams did make the best of it. A bit undersized at the time, standing just 5-feet-9-inches tall, he showed off his range, making 3-pointer after 3-pointer. Despite BABC still playing him tight, he continued to make contested shots and drive the lane, impressing Papile and his opponents.

“Nobody really knew who he was, then he put like 35 on us,” recalled Alex Oriakhi, who played for BABC before continuing his career at Connecticut and  Missouri. “And I was like, ‘Wow, that kid can play.’ I always knew he had the ability to do it.”

Just a few months later, Carter-Williams was playing for BABC and was enrolled at St. Andrew’s School in Rhode Island. He had taken the next step in his basketball career.

“That’s when I really started to get noticed,” Carter-Williams recalled.During his time with BABC under Papile, Carter-Williams grew, most notably in height. He sprouted more than six inches during high school and was listed at 6-feet-6-inches tall as a sophomore at Syracuse.

But he also grew as a player. Prior to joining BABC, Carter-Williams played off the ball a lot, given his ability to score and create chances. When Carter-Williams started playing for BABC, Papile wanted to get the ball in his hands.


Zagrowski, Carter-Williams’ stepfather and coach, was hesitant.

“I remember telling Zach, ‘I want to get him on the ball and make a point guard out of him,’” Papile recalls. “He says ‘I don’t know, Mike can score.’ I said ‘I can see all that, but combine his scoring ability with his ability to see the floor, you
could have a pro some day.’”

Carter-Williams has now made Papile’s vision a reality. After two seasons at Syracuse, the 6-foot-6-inch point guard he declared for the 2013 NBA Draft and was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the No. 11 pick in the first round on Thursday night.

He will now get to play with his former AAU teammate, Nerlens Noel, the No. 6 pick, whom the Sixers traded for.

Michigan’s Trey Burke may have been the first point guard taken in this year’s draft, but Carter-Williams, a Hamilton, Mass., native, will still hold a special place in BABC lore.

“He’s one of my favorites,” Papile said.

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

BOSTON –  Terry Rozier was having a rough stretch where his minutes were limited and when he did play, he didn’t play particularly well.
 
Among the voices in his ear offering words of encouragement was Avery Bradley who knows all too well what Rozier was going through.
 
For all his time as a Celtic, Bradley has let his work on the floor do the talking for him.
 
But as the most tenured Celtic on the roster, his leadership has to be about more than just getting the job done, but servicing as a vocal leader as well.
 
For a player whose growth from one year to the next has been a constant, being a more vocal leader has been the one dynamic of his game that has improved the most during this past season.
 
And it is that kind of leadership that will carry into the summer what is a pivotal offseason for both Bradley and this Celtics franchise which was eliminated by Cleveland in the Conference finals, the first time the Celtics got that deep in the playoffs since 2012.
 
He is entering the final year of the four-year, $32 million contract he signed in 2014. And it comes at a time when his fellow Tacoma, Wash. native and backcourt mate Isaiah Thomas will likely hit free agency where he’s expected to command a max or near-max contract that would pay him an annual salary in the neighborhood of $30 million.
 
At this point in time, Bradley isn’t giving too much thought to his impending contract status.
 
Instead, he’s more consumed by finding ways to improve his overall game and in doing so, help guide the Celtics to what has to be their focus for next season – a trip to the NBA Finals.
 
While Celtics players have said their focus has always been on advancing as far into the playoffs as possible, it wasn’t until this past season did they actually provide hope and promise that Banner 18 may be closer than you think.
 
It was an emotional time for the Celtics, dealing with the unexpected death of Chyna Thomas, the younger sister of Isaiah Thomas, just hours before Boston’s first playoff game this season.
 
And then there were injuries such as Thomas’ right hip strain that ended his postseason by halftime of Boston’s Eastern Conference finals matchup with Cleveland.
 
But through that pain, we saw the emergence of Bradley in a light we have seldom seen him in as a Celtic.
 
We have seen him play well in the past, but it wasn’t until Thomas’ injury did we see Bradley showcase even more elements of his game that had been overlooked.
 
One of the constant knocks on Bradley has been his ball-handling.
 
And yet there were a number of occasions following Thomas’ playoff-ending injury, where Bradley attacked defenders off the dribble and finished with lay-ups and an occasional dunk in transition.
 
Among players who appeared in at least 12 playoff games this year, only Washington’s John Wall (7.9), Cleveland’s LeBron James (6.8) and Golden State’s Stephen Curry (5.2) averaged more points in transition than Bradley (4.7).
 
Bradley recognized the team needed him to be more assertive, do things that forced him to be more front-and-center which is part of his evolution in Boston as a leader on this team.
 
“It’s weird but players like Al (Horford) definitely helped me get out of my shell and pushed me this year to be more of a vocal leader,” Bradley said.
 
And that talent combined with Bradley doing what he does every offseason – come back significantly better in some facet of his game – speaks to how he’s steadily growing into being a leader whose actions as well as his words are impactful.