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October 22, 2014

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High school basketball:

Canyon Springs guard is out to prove he’s learned from academic issues

Shaq Carr had to sit out the last semester of his junior season, cooling his recruitment and forcing him to refocus

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Leila Navidi

Canyon Springs High School sophomore Shaquile Carr practices with the Las Vegas Prospects at Durango High School in Las Vegas, May 22, 2012.

Shaq Carr knows it’s better to be seen and not heard than the other way around. That’s what he’s striving for, because for the past semester, at least in basketball circles, he was neither.

A class of 2014 guard for Canyon Springs High, Carr missed the second half of the 2012-13 season because his grades weren’t good enough. The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association requires students to maintain at least a 2.0 GPA to remain academically eligible.

Making things maybe even more frustrating, the team seemed to get better in his absence before losing to Centennial High in the Division I state semifinals, a game Carr said he’s sure he could have helped win.

“I feel like I let a lot of people down,” Carr said. “I need to pick it up over the summer so I can get my mom back on my side, get my coaches back on my side and get college coaches back on my side.”

Winning people over won’t be easy, especially when the battle starts at home. Carr said his mom is on him about academics every day, asking him questions and making sure he did the required work.

“She’s keeping my head on my grades,” Carr said.

It takes a team to help out, though, just as it took a team to replace Carr once he had to take a seat. That could have essentially ended the season, but instead it reinvigorated the players.

“It motivated the other kids,” Canyon Springs coach Freddie Banks said. “They knew once he wasn’t with us, they had to step up.”

Banks said he was personally hurt by Carr’s ineligibility. Banks has tried to set a standard that Carr, at least for a time, didn’t meet. Carr has paid the price, Banks believes, and will be the better for it.

“I think this year he’ll be a totally different person,” Banks said. “It’s do or die for him as far as being recruited by big-time schools.”

UNLV is one of many that have backed away, and the schools still pursuing Carr do so with more trepidation.

It’s not that missing one semester of high school basketball, especially as a junior, is that big of a deal when recruiting a player. Performance during summer tournaments is far more important.

But this wasn’t time missed because of an injury that’s now in the past. Failing to stay in good academic standing is a warning sign that turns many people away for fear it won’t be corrected. Carr knows this.

“Some (coaches) don’t contact me like they used to,” Carr said.

Convincing them he’s changed will start this summer on the road with the Las Vegas Prospects. College coaches will see a more vocal leader on the court, Carr said, with an improving jump shot. He’s still active on defense, and there are coaches still active on offense in pursuit of him.

Arizona, Oklahoma, USC and especially Colorado are in contact with him, Carr said. And Butler recently jumped into the picture.

Whenever coaches go to Banks for the background story, he still fights for his player.

“You still have a quality player you shouldn’t turn your back on,” Banks said. “I tell coaches: ‘Don’t forget about him. Regardless of circumstances, that’s past tense. This is this year.’”

And just how different this year turns out to be is ultimately up to Carr. He can get help from his mom or from coaches such as Banks or the Prospects’ Anthony Brown, but at the end it’s up to Carr to commit to and complete the work.

“We can’t do it for him,” Banks said. “We are the outside people.”

And Carr could spend all day telling anyone who would listen that’s he’s going to do it, that he learned from his mistakes and will correct them. But those would only be words, and if there’s anything Carr’s learned through this, it’s that words alone won’t be enough.

“You can’t tell them that you’re going to do it,” Carr said. “I feel like I shouldn’t say anything to them. I should just do it.”

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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