Carr takes basketball skills to England
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Former Shepherd basketball player AJ Carr was a high school student at St. James School, just outside Hagerstown, Maryland. He knew the value of stressed academics and learned various cultures from students from abroad, as well as from basketball.
It was just last season he completed a four-year career at Shepherd, finishing a distinguished tenure with the Rams with 1,519 points and 804 rebounds.
In his last season at Shepherd, Carr scored 462 points, had 248 rebounds, averaged 15.9 points per game and 8.6 rebounds.
He was named Shepherd’s Senior Male Athlete of the Year.
Following his four years with the Rams, was there any chance of playing basketball at the professional level? Carr, at six-foot-six, wasn’t going to the NBA from the Mountain East Conference.
He hired an agent to see what avenues could be taken to the professional ranks.
In due time, Carr and his agent were in contact with a representative of the Reading Rockets, a team in the National Basketball League of England. The Rockets are in Division I of the league and are located in Berkshire.
It’s a 14-team league with scattered franchises such as the Worthing Thunder, Thames Valley Cavaliers, Solent Kestrels, Nottingham Hoods, Manchester Magic, Team Newcastle, Leicester Warriors, Loughborough Riders, Hamel Storm, Essex Leopards, Derby Trailblazers, Bradford Dragons and Barking Abbey Crusaders.
Reading also sponsors a women’s team and the equivalent of a high school team. The front office markets itself as a “family oriented” organization.
There are 11 players on Reading’s roster, and three of them are from the United States — Carr, Trae Pemberton and Sydney Donaldson (who holds dual citizenship).
Playing home games in the Rivermeade Leisure Complex that also houses an Olympic-sized swimming pool, the Rockets are off to a 6-3 start to their season.
Carr not only is a starter, but often plays the most minutes of any player.
In a recent Reading win over Leicester, Carr scored 21 points in 34 minutes. He made 10-of-21 shots from two-point range, had 16 rebounds and eight assists. The Rockets were 96-82 winners over the Warriors.
The Reading season carries the Rockets to various tournaments, including the National Cup and several other country-wide events.
Reading has been in Division I of the National Basketball League of England for only a few years and moved up to fifth place last season.
After nine games this season, Carr has been an integral part of the Reading plan and program.
With each of the 14 league franchises showing Americans on their rosters, the influence of fast-paced tempos and the three-point basket sees scores often reach 100 or more points for the winning team.
Carr was comfortable with that up-tempo style at Shepherd, and his statistics abroad in England seem to indicate he is comfortable with the professional basketball played in England.