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PROSPECT WATCH: Tony Carr of Penn State

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Bryan Fonseca took the train up to Madison Square Garden to gather some intel on the best NBA prospect in the NIT, Tony Carr, who fits the Net mold. Here’s what he came back with, and how the Nets could obtain a potential Lion in the Jungle.

Jeffrey Armstrong

Looking ahead (as the Brooklyn Nets always are) Tony Carr may very well be a name you’ll hear a lot of before too long. That’s if the name doesn’t already ring familiar to you.

While leading his Penn State Nittany Lions to the 2018 NIT title, Carr put together one of the best basketball seasons a PSU player has in recent memory, averaging 19.6 points, 5.0 assists, 4.9 rebounds and shooting 43.3% from beyond the arc.

He went out with 15 points, a career-high-tying 14 assists (only one turnover) and nine rebounds in the Nittany Lions’ 82-66 title game over Utah Thursday at Madison Square Garden, where the team went 4-1 during the season.

“For me, it’s got to go to his IQ,” Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers said regarding his first impressions of Carr back in 2016. “He’s got such a high IQ. He really sees the floor. He’s every bit of 6’5.“I knew we were getting a good player. I knew he could make shots, but I think his shooting from three has really impressed me the most. He put in a lot of work in the off-season to improve his shooting. Obviously he was in the low 30s last year.

“And you know what, he fell in love with the weight room,” added Chambers, who put on 25 pounds (he contends its all muscle) since arriving in College Station.

Here’s a look at his game...

So where do the Nets come into play?

As of now, Brooklyn will have a late first round pick, and two second rounders in the 40’s. Carr is, at the moment, projected as a late first or early second round draft choice. For example, nbadraft.net has him pegged at 33 to the Atlanta Hawks. ESPN has him listed at No. 44, which is one below where the Nets currently pick.

Over time, we’ve learned that Kenny Atkinson likes big guards, like when he opted for the 6’6” Spencer Dinwiddie over the 6’0” Yogi Ferrell, or his support for the Nets to the 6’5” D’Angelo Russell, the 6’6” Allen Crabbe and the 6’7” Caris LeVert. The Nets favor big, skillful, long, versatile guards, who can play three positions ... on both ends of the court. For Carr, at 6’5” and 205 pounds, ideal isn’t a strong enough adjective to describe his potential fit.

And the final aspect is the consequences of possible player movement. The Nets may go for “best player available,” but Draft Night could see some moves. The last two have.

Well, Dinwiddie and Russell are free agents in 2019. Decision time is coming. If the Nets feel like they’ve seen enough, they could offer one, both, or even neither of them contract extensions this coming summer, ahead of 2018-19.

The Nets could also get ahead of the game in another way by trading a guard this summer, perhaps at the Draft, setting up the possibility of a cheaper (for a longer period of time) rookie, like Carr, in the backcourt.

Dinwiddie still probably the best value in the league, is making just north of $1.5 million this season and next year, before hitting unrestricted free agency.

Russell, who is making $5.5 million in 2017-18, will hit $7 million next season, and the Nets could extend a qualifying offer of about $9.2 million for the 2019-20 season if nothing is done prior. If accepted, Russell would become an unrestricted free agent in 2020. That’s unlikely. No need to rush.

The Nets, who know plenty about restricted free agency (see Allen Crabbe, Tyler Johnson, Donatas Motiejunas and Otto Porter Jr. offer sheets over the last two seasons), could conceivably got that route again.

As for Carr, he does have some New York City experience as previously alluded too, and even partook in the Barclays Classic in November, where Penn State went 1-1 and Carr had a 31-point game against Texas A&M, who have multiple draft prospects in Robert Williams and Tyler Davis.

Penn State, at five wins in NYC this season ... almost have as many as the Nets, it seems. He’s had big games at the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic, too, with 16 points and five assists against Pitt and 31 points and four steals against Texas A&M.

Now, most importantly is the big question, will Carr, a 20-year-old sophomore, even enter the 2018 Draft? He says he doesn’t know yet.

“I’m talking to the coaching staff and talking to my family, and just make the best decision going forward,” he said regarding the big decision, after Thursday’s championship victory.

Chambers, also asked of the pending move, says Carr’s best interest mirrors his own.

“You know what, I’ve been collecting a lot of information and I’m going to do what’s best for Tony, and whatever that is,” he Thursday night as well. “(I will) Talk to his family, talk to him, and if he thinks it’s best to go, I’m going to encourage him to go. If he thinks it’s best to stay from the feedback that we get, then he should test the waters. So he’s got a couple different options.”

Chambers also described the situation in its entirety as “exciting,”while also noting that the Nittany Lions haven’t had an NBA draftee this century – Calvin Booth, a second rounder and 35th overall selection in 1999, went to the Washington Wizards. Tim Frazier, a current Wizard, went undrafted in 2014.

“It’s only a positive,” Chambers later added on Carr. “It’s a win/win for everybody. If he stays it’s a win. If he goes, it’s a win. What he has done for this program; if he goes, we can say we finally developed a pro and it’s recruiting. So people are going to want to come to Penn State.”

No one on the Nets is saying who they’re interested in (although we’ve assured that if Marvin Bagley III or Deandre Ayton falls to No. 28, the Nets are prepared to take either.)

There is a Nets connection with Penn State. Jordan Ott, an assistant coach with the Nets, graduated from Penn State and was student manager for Penn State men’s basketball under Ed DeChellis. He’s someone Atkinson trusts, having brought him to Brooklyn from Atlanta where the two worked together.

Of course, that assumes Carr will come out and that the Nets are interested. Both mysteries will have to wait a while to be solved.