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Brooklyn Nets Summer League: DeMarre Carroll Keeps an Eye on Hoops Hopefuls

Nets forward roots on Summer League squad while also supporting AAU program

LAS VEGAS — DeMarre Carroll was at NBA Summer League with his Nets teammates to support the franchise’s summer squad, but it wasn’t the only team of young hoopsters he’s keeping an eye on this time of year.

Carroll is the founder and sponsor of Team Carroll, an AAU organization that fields 20 teams in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama and his college home in Missouri.

“They’ve been doing really good,” said Carroll. “I’ve got a group of guys on my team that play the way I play, hard-nosed. They might not be at the top of their class, but I want guys that are hungry and play hard. This is big-time for them, these two adidas tournaments. One in New York and then they go to California. Hopefully they can do some damage.”

Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, there was no local AAU team for Carroll to join. So he traveled 90 minutes each way to Huntsville to play for a team there.

“This is my third year,” said Carroll. “It’s just me giving back. I think AAU helped me get a scholarship, helped me get seen. I wish I could have gotten it earlier, but I had to drive all the way to Huntsville to do AAU so I wish I could have done that earlier. Having a team right in Birmingham where my mom didn’t have to travel that far and my dad didn’t have to travel that far. I’m just trying to do something special for the kids, because at the end of the day that’s what it’s about.”

It’s telling that Carroll’s commitment extends from his hometown to Missouri, where he helped lead the Tigers to an NCAA Regional Final in 2009 while playing for his uncle, Mike Anderson, playing his way into a first-round draft selection along the way.

Last summer, Carroll helped organize an alumni basketball game with former Mizzou football and basketball players. It’s something he plans to continue doing every other year. And he’s got his annual Next Level Basketball Camp coming up in Missouri at the end of the month.

“My Next Level Basketball Camp I’ve been doing for five, six years now,” said Carroll. “It’s great to give back to the Missouri community and try to go back there, show my face, show that I still support the university. But at the end of the day, I love being in Missouri, that’s my home. They gave me an opportunity and kind of jump-started my career.”

As for his team in Brooklyn, Carroll takes his status as a veteran mentor seriously. (“I look at those guys like my brother. They look at me like their big brother.”) From a May outing to California to the significant presence in Las Vegas, the team’s offseason togetherness has been notable.

One of the symbols of that has been a photo posted on several of their Twitter accounts of an informal team picture taken at the top of a trail in the hills of Los Angeles.

“We did the hike and then we did the mountain,” said Carroll. “We charged it a little bit so we were getting cardio, but it was also the team helping other guys when they try to slow down, pushing them. It was good. It was great. We had a lot of fun. I’m always trying to orchestrate things like that.

Carroll’s interest in his teammates extends beyond those he sat with courtside in Las Vegas. He was there to support Jarrett Allen, the two-way players who spent time in Brooklyn last season, Milton Doyle and James Webb, draft picks Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs, and all the players fighting for a spot in the NBA.

“I remember these days when you come here and practice and do basically training camp before doing training camp,” said Carroll. “A lot of these guys, they get an opportunity. They might have been cast-offs in the league. At one point I was like them. So me, personally, I always come back here. Doesn’t matter what team I’m with. I’m going to come back and show my support. Just to see an NBA guy who’s been through the trenches and been through the way on the sideline, I think it gives them a little bit more motivation. To me, I’m just always trying to give back. This game wasn’t promised to me and I’ve got nine successful years in the NBA. I just want to continue to keep trying to give back.”

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