Just under one month ago, Jeff Capel and the Pitt hoops program received their second verbal commitment from a prospect in the 2023 high-school class.
Days before, Dior Johnson, a five-star prospect in the class of 2022, committed to the Panthers. Now, Capel had landed a pledge from Carlton Carrington III, a 6-foot-4 guard out of Baltimore, Maryland.
Carrington chose the Panthers over Loyola-Chicago, Stanford, George Mason, and Iona. His final five schools — those four plus Pitt — included some very solid basketball programs and top-notch academic institutions, for sure. But none that normally catch the eye of big-time, high-major prospects often.
Carrington is ranked as a four star on 247 Sports, which has him as the No. 98 player in the class of 2023. However, he is an unranked three-star on Rivals. He doesn’t have any stars, nor a ranking at all on On3. To most who have seen him play, the lack of attention he gets is ludicrous.
“He’s just so underrated,” Carrington’s father, Carlton Jr., told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “You know, we didn’t do any social media campaign. He doesn’t have any Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all that. We don’t post every time someone calls. He did have a lot of offers, and a lot of people don’t know about them because we weren’t going to entertain certain schools anyway. So, you know, if I would have put out there every time a school offered him, every time a head coach called me, he would’ve been blowing up even more, or there would’ve been more of a sense of urgency.”
Oftentimes, a player like Carrington, who clearly has Division One talent and is committed to a high-major school, may garner interest from all over, before and after a commitment is announced. However, Carrington, led by his father, has taken this recruiting process one step at a time, patiently handling each new offer with one phrase in mind:
“You can only choose one school,” Carrington’s father added.
“And that’s what he understands. He feels comfortable with Pitt. He feels comfortable with Capel and Milan [Brown]. I think Milan was the first person to call him his junior year. At 12:01. We never forgot that.”
Along with Carrington, Pitt reached out to plenty of other guards in the 2023 class. The staff has continued relationships with prospects such as Jaylen Curry, Ty-Laur Johnson, and others for more than a year. However, in Carrington’s instance, in addition to the relationship with the actual player, Capel had a very strong relationship to his father.
“To be honest, I’ve known Capel since 2008,” Carrington’s father said. “I was an AAU coach. I started the Team Melo program, I started Baltimore Elite. I had sent Capel a kid in 2008-2009, Andrew Fitzgerald, at Oklahoma. He [Capel] had done everything he said he was going to do for the kid and more. He helped the kid out. The kid is still playing basketball around the world, he’s still making money. So I had already had a prior relationship with Capel since ’08, for 14 years now. We’ve always kept in contact. He recruited a couple kids I had in the program while he was at Duke.”
In addition to his relationship with Capel, Carrington Jr., a staple in the Baltimore hoops scene, also has another noteworthy connection to Pitt. Years back, he coached former Pitt Panther Jamel Artis while Artis grew up in Baltimore. Ever since Artis was young, Carrington was coaching him, leading him through the recruiting process, and ultimately watching the Baltimore Elite star thrive at Pitt.
“We had a good team,” Carrington added. “Jamel [Artis], Kam Williams, from Ohio State, Daxter Miles from West Virginia, those guys were special because ‘Mel [Artis] was like, the biggest guy. He was like a point forward for me. He had a good career, him, Mike Young, James Robinson, just saw James is coaching college basketball now. I had Mel ever since he was 10 or 12 years old. So I’ve been coaching Mel really his whole life.”
So after 364 days of direct contact with the Pitt staff along with years of hearing about the program and coaches from his father, Carrington III made the decision to commit to Pitt live on CBS Sports with his father sitting right behind him.
BREAKING: 4⭐️ 2023 guard Carlton Carrington has committed to coach Jeff Capel and @Pitt_MBB 🔥
— 247Sports (@247Sports) June 15, 2022
“It was pretty much a great relationship, a level of comfortability, and I know Capel as a good, solid dude, and I know if he says he’s going to do something, he’ll do it. To me, there was no better man to look after my son while I’m not there anymore coaching.”
“It felt great,” Carrington, the player, said about his commitment to Pitt. “That was my main goal, to go to college for free and play D-1 basketball. I did it on a high level too, so it was just a great feeling and a great day.”
Since his commitment, Carrington has shined playing on the Nike EYBL circuit for Team Melo, the same program that his father started years ago.
“This summer is going a lot better for me,” Carrington said. “In the beginning, it was shaky, but I think the thing that helped me to start having a better summer was my confidence. I think that’s the main reason why my summer is concluding how it is now.”
The skilled guard is improving by the day, and is keeping in touch with the Pitt staff by the day as well.
“Coach Capel and Coach Brown still talk to me every day,” he said. “It’s definitely a strong relationship that we’ve built over a year or so.”
Pitt’s 2023 recruiting class includes Carrington, as well as 6-foot-6 wing Marlon Barnes out of Brush High School in Cleveland, Ohio. While the Panthers will lose four of their main guards after this year — Jamarius Burton, Greg Elliott, Nike Sibande, and Nelly Cummings — Carrington is ready to win as soon as he arrives on campus next summer.
“I am most excited to win,” he said. “If I had to give one message to the Pitt fans, it’s that I am coming to win. I’m not coming to lose.”