Q&A: Carson McCorkle comfortable with early commitment to Virginia basketball team

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Virginia commit Carson McCorkle will play for USA Basketball at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, which will be held Oct. 6-18 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

There’s a lot of things that will happen between now and 2021 that we won’t expect. But one thing that became a near certainty on Friday night is that when 2021 rolls around, Carson McCorkle will be in a Virginia basketball uniform.

The high school sophomore, who averaged 10.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists as a freshman, committed to UVa to kick off the weekend. He’s the first commitment in the Class of 2021 — the Cavaliers don’t even have a 2020 commitment.

“If you walked into the gym, you wouldn’t pick him out,” said his high school coach, Freddy Johnson. “But when he starts playing, you see what kind of athlete he is. He’s a really good athlete.”

The Greensboro Day School attendee spoke to The Daily Progress about his commitment.

Daily Progress: Why now? How did this decision come together for you?

McCorkle: “[Virginia] watched me throughout the summer this year, and they really liked me. Coach [Tony] Bennett actually never really saw me play in the summer. Then they wanted me to come visit about a month ago. So I went up and visited, and I had a really, really good visit. And my parents loved it. It was great. We loved the school. Then we came back and Coach Bennett came and watched me work out about a week later. And he offered me after that. Then he came back and watched me twice in the next week. So after that, I just knew that Virginia really wanted me. I think it says something when the head coach comes by himself to watch you work out twice in one week. That just made me want to commit.”

DP: What did they have you do on your visit?

McCorkle: “There were no practices or anything that I went to. But I toured the campus. I got to drive around and see everything, went in John Paul Jones Arena for a good time. I got to see all the facilities and things like that. We had lunch together. I talked to Coach Bennett in his office for probably an hour. So that’s really all I did. We’ve talked about coming back up soon. I don’t know how soon it’ll be, but I’m gonna come back up really soon and see practice, and get to meet more of the players and things like that.”

DP: Why did you want to make this decision so far ahead of time?

McCorkle: “As soon as I left visiting and talked to the coaching staff and things like that, I just knew God had a plan for me and knew God wanted me to be at UVa, and my parents knew that as well. We just knew it was the right fit. And we knew if we know this is where we want to be, and this is the right place, then why waste any time?”

DP: What is the situation with your classification? You could join the Class of 2020?

McCorkle: “As of now, I’m the 2021 class, but I do have the option of leaving after next season, and that’s a decision I’m currently going over with Coach Bennett and my coaches in high school and my family. And sometime after my season ends at Greensboro Day School, I’m going to really think hard about if I want to be here next year or if I want to leave two years from now.”

DP: What’s your experience been like with Team USA?

McCorkle: “It’s amazing. It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s awesome to put on that USA jersey and play. I enjoy it so much and it’s been something I’ve had a lot of fun with and it’s something that’s a dream of mine since I was a little kid that I honestly never thought would have happened. It’s cool, you learn a lot, and get to do a lot of really cool things and play against great competition.”

DP: Your coach was talking about your defense. Is that strength what drew UVa coaches to you?

McCorkle: “I do think my defense has gotten a lot better over the last year or so. It’s gotten tremendously better. It’s become a strong point in my game, especially this summer. I would say my shooting is something that Coach Bennett really liked as well, because he’s real big on shooting and technique and things like that. He really liked how I could shoot the ball and handle it. Obviously, I’ve got to get stronger and I’ve got to get bigger, but that’ll come over time.”

DP: What’s been the reaction from family, friends, fans?

McCorkle: “It’s been cool. My family knew, we told all my family members, aunts, uncles, grandparents, that that was going to be the place I was going to commit to that night. They were all really excited for me, and they wanted me to go there as well. They said that they didn’t have any doubt on Virginia and they wanted me to be there. I had a lot of friends and people that I had just known that a lot of them were surprised because of how early technically that I committed. I just told them it was the right fit for me.”

DP: Did you wake up Friday knowing you were going to do this?

McCorkle: “Coach Bennett came and watched me play on Wednesday. And so I kind of after that, we talked on the phone, and I just knew. I talked to my parents about it that night. I just knew that was going to be the place for me.”

DP: What were your thoughts on UVa last season?

McCorkle: “Last year they had an unbelievable season. It was cut short, but it was still a great season. The way Coach Bennett reacted after having that tough loss in the first round was something that kind of showed me how much of a good man he is, his faith in God. It was something that loss didn’t upset him; it didn’t get him upset, he wasn’t mad, like he didn’t hide himself from anything. He was still the same person, and just knew that God had a reason for that. That showed me and my parents that he’s here for more than just winning. He cares about his players, and he cares about his program, too.”

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Sam Blum is The Daily Progress' University of Virginia sports reporter. Contact him at (434) 978-7250, sblum@dailyprogress.com, or on Twitter @SamBlum3.

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