Carson McCorkle is a shooting guard who can dunk, shoot 3-pointers, defend multiple positions, holds scholarship offers from N.C. State, Georgia Tech and Iowa and attended the ultra-exclusive U.S. Junior National Team Mini Camp.
And in August, McCorkle attended his first day of high school.
The 14-year-old, 6-foot-2 Broughton freshman is a little ahead of the curve.
“I’ve always had a ball in my hands since I was pretty much born,” McCorkle said. “I was always kind of a step ahead and it’s been a big advantage but it’s also a lot of responsibility.”
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On Tuesday, McCorkle and the Caps take their home floor in the 41st annual John Wall Holiday Invitational with a 1:50 p.m. tipoff in the Triangle-heavy David West bracket. The tournament begins Monday at Cary Academy with girls’ teams and there’s also a bracket, with six of the eight teams from outside North Carolina, in the T.J. Warren bracket.
It gives McCorkle an added sense of pride to play in the West bracket.
In July, McCorkle led AAU club Garner Road’s U14 team, coached by the Golden State Warriors forward himself, to the semifinals of the adidas Summer Championships. It helped him land his first college offer from Iowa in early August.
He was one of about 50 players nationwide in the high school classes of 2019 and 2020 selected to attend the national junior team’s training camp in Colorado Springs, Co. last month.
So McCorkle’s 15th year of life could be a big one.
“I think he’s the next Grayson Allen – that type of explosiveness, that type of competitiveness, that type of skill,” said trainer Mark Adams, who also works with Atlanta Hawks stalwart Paul Milsap and 2016 No. 1 draft pick Brandon Ingram. ... But he’ll be the next Carson McCorkle.”
Quick rise to top level
McCorkle’s father, Brad, played basketball at Guilford College from 1988 to 1992 and professionally in Europe.
His son inherited that talent, and plenty more, and has been rocketing towards a career of his own since he first joined a team at age 3.
McCorkle grew up attending games at N.C. State and joined his first AAU travel team in third grade, playing up to the fourth grade level.
In seventh grade, he migrated to West’s Garner Road program, for whom both John Wall and T.J. Warren both played.
“He’s competitive, has a good knack for the ball,” West said. “He’s improving his ability to knock down shots on the perimeter and he’s a tremendous athlete… He’ll want to guard the best guy on the floor and that’s where he’s a little bit different.”
The Big Ten is obviously in my mind but … I’ve got a long time before I’m really going to decide where I want to go to college.
Raleigh basketball prodigy Carson McCorkle
With his trainer, McCorkle has worked on improving his footwork, his reads on other players and his ability to create and take space on the court.
Shooting has never been an issue, however.
When the first rumbles of college interest reached McCorkle last spring, he was a little surprised how early it had come.
The teenager made a visit to Indiana in the first weeks of summer, with trips to Wisconsin and Iowa quickly following. He ventured to Wake Forest, as well, and traveled to Ohio State in early September for the Buckeyes’ football season opener.
“Obviously I want to play in a good environment,” he said before N.C. State became the second major college program to offer him a scholarship. “The Big Ten is obviously in my mind but … I’ve got a long time before I’m really going to decide where I want to go to college.”
Georgia Tech soon followed to give him his third offer.
Iowa has even been to Holliday Gymnasium at Broughton to see McCorkle in a regular-season game against Leesville Road.
Still focused as attention grows
After receiving that first offer, Adams said he expected McCorkle to arrive at their next training session distracted or perhaps even gloating. He was wrong.
“The kid comes into the workout and he’s as focused as can be, working harder than he’s ever worked,” Adams said.
A bigger reason to gloat came in the mail when a letter arrived from Sean Ford, director of the U.S. Men’s National Team, inviting him to the 2019 and 2020 classes’ national mini camp.
McCorkle was going up against players older than himself, but he also admitted that it’s felt as if he, too, has been older than his opponents for years.
“With my IQ and me being a guard with my size, it’s kind of seemed like that sometimes,” he said.
It’s not just his basketball intelligence and height, though. It’s dynamic shooting ability and versatile defending. It’s his NBA mentors. It’s his already-extensive experience against elite competition under the spotlight.
And soon, it’s likely it will be his lengthy list of scholarship offers as well.
“He is a special player,” Adams said emphatically. “He’s going to have an extremely successful career playing basketball, I believe at the highest level in college for sure. …He has the game to play anywhere in the nation: Big Ten, ACC, wherever he’s gonna be.”
John Wall Holiday Invitational
at Broughton and Cary Academy
Girls Round-Robin: Wakefield vs. Trinity Christian, 11 a.m. (Cary Academy)
Girls Tournament: Green Hope vs. Ravenscroft, 12:30 p.m. (Cary Academy)
Girls Round-Robin: Southern Durham vs. Village Christian, 2 p.m. (Cary Academy)
Girls Tournament: Heritage vs. Riverside, 3:30 p.m. (Cary Academy)
Girls Tournament: Cary vs. Northwood Temple, 5 p.m. (Cary Academy)
Girls Tournament: Millbrook vs. Clinton, 6:30 p.m. (Cary Academy)
Girls Round-Robin: Roxboro Community vs. Trinity Christian, 10:30 a.m. (Cary Academy)
Girls Tournament: Losers GHO/RAV vs. HER/RIV, TBA (Cary Academy)
Girls Round-Robin: Southern Durham vs. Freedom Christian, 1:30 p.m. (Cary Academy)
Girls Tournament: Losers CRY/NWT vs. MBK/CLI, TBA (Cary Academy)
Girls Tournament: Winners GHO/RAV vs. HER/RIV, 4:30 p.m. (Cary Academy)
Girls Tournament: Winners CRY/NWT vs. MBK/CLI, 6 p.m. (Cary Academy)
David West: Heritage vs. Southern Durham 1:50 p.m.
David West: Garner vs. Leesville Road 3:30 p.m.
David West: Broughton vs. Cox Mill 5:10 p.m.
T.J. Warren: Cary vs. Tampa Catholic (Fla.), 6:50 p.m.
David West: Millbrook vs. Ravenscroft 8:30 p.m.
Girls Tournament: 7th-place, 10:30 a.m. (Cary Academy)
Girls Tournament: 5th-place, 12:10 p.m. (Cary Academy)
Girls Round-Robin: Southern Durham vs. Trinity Christian, 1:30 p.m. (Cary Academy)
Girls Tournament: 3rd-place, 3 p.m. (Cary Academy)
David West: Losers HER/SDR vs. MBK/RAV 10:30 a.m.
David West: Losers GAR/LVR vs. BRO/CXM 12:10 p.m.
T.J. Warren: J.M. Robinson vs. Thornlea School 1:50 p.m.
David West: Winners GAR/LVR vs. BRO/CXM, 3:30 p.m.
T.J. Warren: Cannon School vs. University School 6:50 p.m.
David West: Winners HER/SDR vs. MBK/RAV, 5:10 p.m.
T.J. Warren: Hillcrest Prep vs. Northwood Temple 8:30 p.m.
David West: 7th-place, 10:30 a.m.
David West: 5th-place, 12:30 p.m.
T.J. Warren: Losers CAN/UNI vs. HCP/NWT 1:50 p.m.
T.J. Warren: Losers CRY/TAM vs. JMR/THO 3:30 p.m.
David West: 3rd-place, 5:10 p.m.
T.J. Warren: Winners CRY/TAM vs. JMR/THO 6:50 p.m.
T.J. Warren: Winners CAN/UNI vs. HCP/NWT 8:30 p.m.
T.J. Warren: 7th-place game 10:30 a.m.
Girls Tournament: Championship, 1:50 p.m.
T.J. Warren: 5th-place game 3:30 p.m.
T.J. Warren: 3rd-place game, 5:10 p.m.
David West: Championship, 6:50 p.m.
T.J. Warren: Championship, 8:30 p.m.