Young Basketball Prodigy Finds Success After Facing Public Doubt

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From the NY Times:

EL PASO — When the basketball world first met Derrick Caracter, in July 2001, he was 13 years old, 6 feet 8 inches and carried around a stuffed orangutan named Ollie.

On Thursday, many fans will be reintroduced to Caracter. He will take the court for 12th-seeded Texas-El Paso in the first round of the N.C.A.A. tournament against fifth-seeded Butler as a 21-year-old junior whose teenage innocence is long gone.

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In between, Caracter emerged as one of the most fascinating and frustrating personalities to come through the American basketball system. He attended three high schools and flamed out at Louisville. The hype surrounding Caracter was so great that a man said to be linked to a player agent dated Caracter’s aunt and lived in the same house with Caracter.

Along his jagged path, Caracter was overweight and academically underwhelming, and he transformed from a can’t-miss preps-to-pros prospect to being labeled a washout at age 20.

“If I could do it all over again? Maybe pray that David Stern didn’t change the rule about high school kids entering the draft,” said Caracter, referring to the N.B.A. commissioner. “Some guys just aren’t built for college.”

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