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Meet the Horns: With an eye on the NBA, Toronto’s Marcus Carr continues his journey at Texas

Minnesota transfer believes UT is getting a strong two-way player: ‘Just a two-day dog, who wants to do anything to win’

New Texas guard Marcus Carr on his transfer to the Longhorns: "I just can’t express how blessed I am to be here and blessed to be a part of this team."

Having grown up in Toronto, Marcus Carr has indeed tried hockey.

“I played a few games in my gym class,” Carr said, “but I wouldn’t say I’m very good at all.”

Basketball, that’s a different story.

The 6-foot-2 Canadian spent countless hours in the driveway with his older brother Duane Notice imitating NBA moves and imagining they’d make it big someday.

Notice played on the 2017 South Carolina team that reached the Final Four. That same year, Carr got his start as a college freshman. His journey started at Pittsburgh, then to Minnesota and now all the way down south at Texas.

“No, it’s definitely not something I would have guessed,” Carr said Tuesday. “But it’s something that when I look at it, it’s pretty full circle now. The guys that have come before me and paved the way through here, I just can’t express how blessed I am to be here and blessed to be a part of this team.”

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The Longhorns have welcomed Canadians before, notables like Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson. Joseph was from Toronto, too. 

Minnesota's Marcus Carr (5) drives as Purdue's Eric Hunter Jr. (2) defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, in Minneapolis.

Carr said he still remembers T.J. Ford playing for the Toronto Raptors for two seasons. When Carr looked at his options last spring, he knew full well UT’s reputation and that of coach Chris Beard.

Carr went through the entire NBA draft evaluation process but also secured a scholarship offer from Beard’s new staff just in case. Either way, the former All-Big 10 guard had solid choices for his basketball future.

Obviously, Beard would have liked for Carr, considered one of the best players in the transfer portal, to give college one more year.

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“We kind of spoke, had a real good conversation. It was very truthful,” Carr said. “He understood what I was trying to do and that my feet were kind of in the process and trying to get to that next level. He did nothing but support me from day one and wish for my success.”

Once Carr decided to put the NBA on hold, he took a hard look at how Beard was building the roster. Carr ended up being the last of UT’s seven new players to announce their commitment. 

Carr’s team played against Timmy Allen at Utah in the NCAA Tournament. Carr also said he played against Courtney Ramey in high school. Now, Carr, Allen and Ramey are all on the same squad inside Cooley Pavilion. 

“I’m a basketball junkie, a basketball head, so I’m always watching,” Carr said. “A lot of these guys who transferred in, I knew who they were before they even committed and came to Texas.”

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Carr has steadily improved each season, and Texas is getting a solid point guard candidate. He’s scoring has steadily gone up while his turnovers have gone down. All the numbers indicate Carr is steadily improving his game year after year.

Vidal Massiah, Carr’s club basketball coach since age 12, said Carr used the COVID-19 break to focus on his body and eating habits to “get your body in the best shape of your life.”

“He really put an emphasis on his conditioning, his body fat percentage, changing his eating habits, really trying to be a pro. So that that’s kind of where we probably spend most of our time in terms of conversation, what needed to happen,” Massiah told the Toronto Star in January.

Minnesota's Marcus Carr (5) shoots as Northwestern's Ryan Young, right, falls following a collision with Carr in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Last season at Minnesota, Carr averaged 15.6 points but shot 31.7% from 3-point range, something Beard chalks up to shot selection on a struggling team. The Gophers went 14-15, prompting a coaching change.

“I’m not the best analytic guy on our staff, but we’ve got some guys who can put it in Big Chief tablet form that I can read,” Beard said. “I passed a lot of classes around here with Cliff Notes. They can’t take my degree from me. I’ve got it. I’ve got a master’s degree based on a lot of Cliff Notes, too.

“Do you young people in here even know what Cliff Notes are? Black and yellow, $4.95, man.”

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Beard credits Carr’s previous coaches for his development and, yes, Carr’s statistical growth was part of UT’s evaluation. 

Now, Carr believes he’s ready to become a premier defensive player while surrounded by more firepower.

Asked what kind of player Texas is getting, Carr said, “Just a two-day dog, who wants to do anything to win. Just putting his teammates in the best position to succeed.”

Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.