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Prep basketball star Aquille Carr plans to pursue professional deal overseas

Former Baltimore prep basketball star Aquille Carr plans to pursue a professional career overseas instead of playing at Seton Hall next season, he announced Saturday evening after he scored 52 points in his final high school game.

Carr, who played his senior season at Princeton Day Academy in Laurel, had strongly hinted at his intentions in an interview last month and again in a series of tweets last week. He verbally committed to Seton Hall early last year and maintained all along that if he played in college, that would be his destination.

Though some scouts are skeptical of his overseas prospects, the 5-foot-7 guard said he couldn't turn away the possibility of pro money that would help him support his 1-year-old daughter Averi and the rest of his family.

The decision represented yet another twist in one of Baltimore prep basketball's most fascinating biographies. Carr became a diminutive sensation at Patterson, drawing huge crowds to his games in East Baltimore and even bigger audiences to YouTube clips of his highlights. He earned the nickname "The Crimestopper" because crime supposedly dwindled in the surrounding neighborhood during his games. Last year, he led Patterson to a Class 3A state title.

But Carr was arrested last summer and charged with assaulting the mother of his daughter. He ultimately reached a deal to clear his record by attending sessions at the House of Ruth. But he struggled with the fallout from the arrest and also flirted with leaving Baltimore for high schools in New Jersey and Florida before settling at Princeton Day.

He has said that the individualized attention at his new school helped him improve academically. And he continued his high-scoring ways for a team that played tough competition up and down the East Coast.

Carr, 19, now hopes to follow the path blazed by Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings, who played a season in Italy after high school and was then picked ninth overall in the 2009 NBA draft.

"I think that was the right way for him to do what he had to do," Carr said of Jennings in the February interview. "Now he can provide for his family more. I think that could be a possible way for me to provide for my family."

But Jennings was a consensus top-five player in his class while Carr, who faces questions about his height and ability to share the ball, has fallen out of ESPN's Top 100 for 2013.

In an interview with ESPN.com last week, Jennings cautioned Carr about the difficulties of playing overseas.

"It's a totally different game," Jennings told recruiting analyst Dave Telep. "If you look at his highlights, he's really flashy. Over there, they don't really play that. They're about getting the job done and getting wins.

"If he plays at the top level, I don't know how much playing time you're really going to get. Their point guards over there are making starting point guard money in the NBA. They're all about winning."

Though Jennings' move worked in the end, few other top prospects have followed him overseas. Virtually all have decided that playing at least a year in college is the easier route to the NBA.

College or the NBA Development League would likely be easier roads for Carr, said Jonathan Givony, owner of DraftExpress, a scouting company that consults for several European clubs. Overseas play is full of pitfalls, he says, even for experienced American players who are physically and emotionally mature.

"I don't see a lot of teams being interested in him overseas," said Givony, who has watched Carr play a few times. "What he's thinking about, the Brandon Jennings route where you're making hundreds of thousands of dollars, I'd be very skeptical of that."

Givony said he wouldn't be surprised if some pro team somewhere gives Carr a look.

"But when you're talking about European basketball, it's important to understand there are so many levels to it," he said. "There are guys playing for $1,000 a month and bus tickets, and there are guys playing for $300,000 a month who are treated like NBA players."

Carr and his family have said he received an offer two years ago from Lottomatica Virtus Roma, the same Italian club that signed Jennings. But the club's director denied the offer to Italian publications.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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