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As Division I offers come in, Braeden Carrington set to lead Park Center

By RON HAGGSTROM, Star Tribune , 01/18/21, 1:15PM CST


The Pirates, with 12 former players now on college teams, have a 6-3 shooting guard who has blossomed into one of the state’s most improved players.

Braeden Carrington, a 6-3 shooting guard at Park Center, blossomed over the summer and now has four Division I offers, including from the Gophers. Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ ¥ cgonzalez@startribune.com

Once in awhile even a Division I recruit has to bide his time. Braeden Carrington did that last season.

The 6-3 junior shooting guard was Park Center’s sixth man, coming off the bench in support of the Pirates’ all-senior starting lineup. This season, Carrington will now be counted on to provide leadership and scoring.

“Last year we had a bunch of seniors where I couldn’t really showcase my skills. I just played a role on the team,” Carrington said. “Now I’m more of a leader. I have to step up and make the plays instead of sitting back and watching others make the plays.”

A skilled pure shooter, Carrington continues to develop his game and become multifaceted. He can hit from three-point range, come off screens and score. or take a defender off the dribble and attack the basket.

“I feel like my game has always been there, but I just didn’t have a chance to shown it,” said Carrington, who played with Grassroots Sizzle during the summer AAU season.

He has been diligently working to improve his ball handling skills. It’s been a little more difficult recently with a cast on his right wrist. The cast was removed last week.

“I had a partially dislocated tendon,” Carrington said. “It happened during an open gym period on a chase down block from behind. I ran into the back wall.”

The defensive end of the court is another area that the 170-pound Carrington is starting to take more pride in. He has excellent court awareness and is instinctive.

“I’ve really been working on my defense and guard skills, especially ball handing,” Carrington said. “Those are the two things I need to improve on the most.”

Last season Carrington averaged 6.5 points per game for the Pirates. He was one of the most improved players in the state during fall ball and currently has four Division I offers — Minnesota, Florida, Missouri and Seton Hall.

“I really stepped up and showed my true potential in the fall Breakdown League,” the soft-spoken Carrington said. “A bunch of different coaches started calling and texting me. I started to blow up.”

The Pirates’ program can boast of having 12 players, including six from last year’s team, playing collegiately. The most notable are freshman forward Dain Dainja at Baylor and sophomore guard Jarius Cook at North Dakota State.

“We set super high expectations from day one,” Pirates coach James Ware said. “Show up every day ready to work. If you work hard enough, there will be a place for you in college basketball.”

In Ware’s five seasons at Park Center, the Pirates have a 115-30 record. He inherited a team coming off an 8-18 season in 2014-15.

“He turned the whole program around,” Carrington said. “He brought a winning culture to Park Center. A lot more people now know that Park Center is going to be a hard team to beat.”

Ware was an assistant coach at Hopkins under Ken Novak Jr. before taking over the Park Center program.

“Ken taught me how to create a basketball community that supports itself and a culture that fosters hard work,” Ware said. “The first three years (with 17-, 21- and 24-victory seasons) were the hardest, but also the most rewarding. We created an environment that rewards hard work.”

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