Carter-Williams offers lessons to Imhotep student-athletes

Posted: November 07, 2013

MICHAEL Carter-Williams has had quite the busy week. A week ago, he was just gearing up for his first professional basketball game, hoping for the best. His team was not supposed to succeed, or even come close.

Fast forward a week, and things have changed drastically. The Sixers are 3-1, including home wins over the Bulls and the defending champion Heat. Carter-Williams averaged 20 points and 7.8 assists in those four games, and was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week after the first three games.

Instead of taking time after yesterday's practice to rest, or play video games, as many 22-year-olds do, he spent time talking to athletes at Imhotep Charter School in North Philadelphia about the importance of an education.

His message was simple: "It is really important to stay on top of your education."

"To finish out school and get your degree and diploma is really important," he said. "Life is real tough without it. It is an accomplishment that you should never forget in your life, and never take for granted, because that, you can have forever. You can't have too many things forever."

The rookie out of Syracuse said that he had the drive not only to excel on the hardwood, but to excel in the classroom. He took it to heart and worked hard in school. Despite playing only 2 years under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, Carter-Williams needs only 1 more year of classes to graduate with a bachelor's degree. His high school coach, Mike Hart, at St. Andrew's High School in Barrington, R.I., played a big role in the development of the young Carter-Williams.

"Well, since I was in high school, my parents and my coach, coach Hart, have always told me the importance of education," Carter-Williams said. "I really bought in to it. I was a good student in high school, and a pretty good student in college. I have 1 year left in college to fulfill, and I hope to do that sooner or later."

The 6-6 point guard did acknowledge that it was not easy to handle being such a high-profile athlete while trying to get good grades. Discipline in his personal life helped him get to where he needed to be.

"I had good time management," the rookie added. "Doing my schoolwork and working out and being the best I can be in basketball may take some sacrifice in my social life, but, at the end of the day, it is worth it."

His sacrifices came full circle this past week when he had one of the best opening weeks for a rookie in NBA history. His Player of the Week award was the first given to a rookie since 1992. That award went to a big man who had a very lucrative professional career.

"I was real excited," Carter-Williams said. "It was a big honor for me, something I will never forget. I am very blessed to be in that situation and be Player of the Week. It's only happened one other time, with Shaquille O'Neal, so that was a big honor. My teammates were great the whole week. Them being great really helped me out."

Not only did Carter-Williams play well in the first week, but his teammates did, as well. The Sixers overcame large leads held by both the Bulls and Heat to win late in the fourth quarter. He has confidence in his teammates, but also knows he has to improve on his early stellar performances.

"I'm just trying to stay confident and keep trying to take it one game at a time and get better each and every day," Carter-Williams said. "I have been saying this for the whole time; this year is really a learning experience for me. I am coming in, learning the system and learning to compete against the top-level guys. I am just taking it all in as a learning experience and take what I need to learn into the summertime and really work on that and come back as a better player."

He already has shown he can be a good player in the NBA, but still wants to improve. It was even a big shock to him that the season started so successfully for him and the Sixers.

When asked whether he thought he would be this successful this early, he replied: "No, not this successful. Us being 3-1 is a big achievement in itself already. I am glad I am able to take part in my team and play a big role on the team. We are sticking together and playing real hard."

On Twitter: @AndrewJAlbert01

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