Devin Carter

Kings draft pick Carter ready to follow in dad's NBA footsteps

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SACRAMENTO – Growing up the son of a former NBA player and assistant coach gave Devin Carter access to people and places that most kids at a young age can only dream about.

Carter took full advantage of it all, soaking up wisdom from Kings stars like Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins, or getting into shooting competitions with Seth Curry.

Late at night after games, whether he attended them or not, the younger Carter would be quick to tell the stories of hanging out with the players and then would implore his father to take him to a gym to work on what he had learned.

“He would say DeMarcus was showing him this, or Rondo showed him this,” Anthony Carter told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday. “So he wanted to go to the gym and work on that. I said, ‘Whatever you get from any of them, we’re going to work on it.’ ”

All those nights in the lab and on the court certainly paid off. Devin followed his father’s footsteps into the NBA, joining the Kings as their first-round draft pick in last week’s 2024 NBA Draft.

Both Carters were at Golden 1 Center on Tuesday morning for the formal introduction of Devin to the Sacramento media. Unlike on draft night, the 22-year-old wore a shirt and appeared very comfortable and ready for his professional career to begin.

“Just super excited to be here in Sacramento,” said Devin, who spent part of his childhood growing up and playing youth basketball in Roseville. “Definitely had a great experience here. I’m just ready to get to work.”

Kings fans have that same passion for Devin. When the Kings' newest rookie flew into Sacramento International Airport on Monday, he was greeted by a crowd of fans decked out in purple and holding up cowbells.

“It was electric,” Devin said. “They were ringing those cowbells, there was purple everywhere. It was great. I definitely feel welcomed here.”

The Kings hope he feels equally comfortable on the court.

A two-way star in college who was the Big East Player of the Year, Devin is lined up to be Sacramento’s stopper on defense. While he made significant strides in his game offensively in his final season at Providence, Devin's defense is what caught the attention of NBA scouts and elevated him to first-round status as a draft prospect.

“For sure the first thing that jumps off the film with Devin is just how hard he plays,” Kings general manager Monte McNair said. “I think that shows up in the box score and some of the stats. Basketball’s about the ball, and Devin goes and gets the ball. Missed shot, he goes and gets it. Loose ball, he goes and gets it. He takes it from the other team and then he goes and puts it in the other basket.

“Sounds simple, but we see that all over when we watch him, when we talk to him and when we look at the statistics. When those things all line up, we feel confident he’ll be able to do it at the next level.”

Like with just about everything in his basketball career, Devin needed to look no further than his own family for inspiration growing up.

Asked where he got the inspiration to devote much of his game to defense, Devin pointed to the crowd of people gathered inside Golden 1 Center and pointed to his father who was sitting in the front row.

“Came from that guy right there,” Devin said. “Throughout my whole life, I saw how he got on the court by his defense. It kind of gets to be repetitive when you’re walking around basketball games and everybody’s like, ‘Your dad was a dog on the defensive end,’ and stuff like that. Just trying my best to mimic that. 

"At the end of the day if you’re not scoring, if you’re not doing anything else, you can at least guard and take that personally. You want to give the coach a reason to play you, and every coach wants somebody who plays defense. I’d pride myself on that. But for me personally, I think my defense turns into offense as well. If I got a stop or a block or a steal, I’m able to turn that into good momentum on the offensive end. I think I feed off that.”

After Tuesday’s press conference, Anthony stood in a corner quietly talking about his son’s achievements. He sounded every bit the proud papa and, although maybe a little biased, believes Devin will be a big asset with the Kings.

“It’s just a great feeling, knowing how hard he worked and all the countless hours that he asked me to go to the gym, whether it was midnight after my games or it was 5 a.m. before school,” Anthony said. “By me being a former NBA player, I knew what it took. So I already had the recipe. It was just up to him to just listen. I just took him to the gym, told him what to do and he went and did work.

"When it wasn’t quite a good day, if he was going in there (goofing around), I’d take him and send him right out of the gym. It’d be five minutes, and if he’s not going hard enough, let’s go. I’d make him think about it.”

When he was in middle school Devin started doing things that other basketball players his age or older hadn’t enough thought about doing – breaking down film, first with his father then later, as he grew and learned, by himself.

“I would be gone coaching and then I’d watch (Devin’s game) and be like, ‘You did this, you did this, you sucked at this, this was great, why didn’t you shoot your shot, why didn’t you play defense?’ ” Anthony said. “So then he started looking at his own film, because he knew I was watching him. He was always real with himself. He knew when he was messing up. To this day, there could be a game two years ago and he’ll tell you every play, what happened in this scenario.

“I was like, ‘This kid’s got it.’ His IQ was always there. He was always ahead of the players he played against and, to be honest, against some of the players that are playing in the league today.”

Since the draft, McNair has spoken several times about the impact that the Kings believe Devin can make not only this year but for many seasons down the road.

For now, however, Devin wants to focus on improving his mid-range shooting – something his college coach forbade him to do – and keep the Kings pushing to get deeper into the postseason. 

He spoke with De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk after the draft, met with Keon Ellis and Colby Jones at the Kings’ facilities, and is anxious to get to work on the court with them and the rest of Sacramento’s roster.

“I don’t have any rookie goals or anything like that,” Carter said. “My main concern is just winning and playing the right way.”

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