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Michigan State Commitment Scouting Report: Coen Carr

Tom Izzo’s newest recruit will garner quite a bit of attention with his high school highlight tapes until he comes to Michigan State.

Syndication: South Bend Tribune
Get used to this picture of Coen Carr jamming a ball into the hoop as hard as he can.
Michael Caterina / USA TODAY NETWORK

Coen Carr recently committed to the Michigan State men’s basketball program and thus became the newest member of Tom Izzo’s star-studded 2023 recruiting class, which currently ranks third overall in the country, according to 247Sports.

Below, we take a look at what Carr brings to the table, how he might fit in with the Spartans and what fans of MSU can expect from the youngster. We will follow it up with a series of in-depth looks at all of the recruits from the 2023 class.

Coen Carr’s recruitment

Coen Carr hails from Stockbridge, Georgia, but has mentioned that he has been a fan of the Oregon Ducks ever since he was 8 years old. Nike U actually showed some interest in him but didn’t really follow up on the pursuit. There were a number of other prominent programs recruiting Carr, though, including North Carolina State, UConn, Indiana, Tennessee and LSU, among many other.

He visited Bloomington in March, then stopped by at Vanderbilt a few months later and had his latest visit with the Volunteers on July 25. At that moment, plenty of people considered the Vols the favorite for Carr, but Michigan State had started to show some interest by then after not really having the small forward/power forward on the program’s radar for long.

Some people believe that Carr became more interesting for the Spartans after it seemed clear that Devin Royal, another MSU small forward target, was likely to choose his home state school Ohio State, which he eventually did. So on July 30, Carr came to Michigan State, took a tour around the campus in East Lansing and received his offer from the Spartans with the conclusion of his visit. After that it didn’t take two weeks for him to commit to the Green and White.

In an interesting blog entry with Sports Illustrated (SI covered his recruiting over quite some time), Carr mentioned that he reached Izzo at his beach house when he delivered the big news of his commitment. The coach was just getting his Jet Ski out for a ride on Lake Michigan, but let Carr know that he would probably first jump in the water out of joy. Carr also mentioned former Spartans Branden Dawson, Miles Bridges and Gabe Brown as players who were similar to him, and how he expects MSU to not only prepare him for the pros, but also challenge for a national title during his time in East Lansing. He has been in constant contact with the other members of Michigan State’s 2023 recruiting class, too (Xavier Books, Jeremy Fears Jr. and Gehrig Normand — all prospects rated in the top-90 nationally). Normand actually finished his visit to East Lansing right as Carr was coming into town. Talk about back-to-back.

The player, Coen Carr

Think about this for a moment: 45 inches. Yes, that’s supposed to be Carr’s vertical, and as crazy as that number sounds, watching him play almost certainly makes you believe it. Plain and simple, he is a world class dunker already and possesses a violent, natural athleticism that not many people on this planet have at their disposal. Whenever Carr comes even near the rim, he will look to finish with a thunderous slam and make everyone notice his presence on the court.

He brings all the attributes to the table that you expect from a first class athlete like him. He is fast, quick, extremely bouncy, can get up for a second jump in an instant and he is very aggressive when he attacks the rim. Between the legs, tomahawk from the free-throw line, poster dunks over bigger people, you name it, Carr can do it all. There is a good chance that Carr won’t see many comparable run-and-jump athletes like him until he reaches the NBA (if he gets that far) and even then, he would probably be in the upper tier of high-flyers.

Of course, dunking and athleticism only get you so far and it would be unfair to just limit Carr to that. He has an extremely high motor, loves to compete and works tirelessly throughout a game. For his current team, Legacy Early College — a Greenville, South Carolina-based prep school — he often times played the four-position (power forward) despite only being listed somewhere between 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-7. While he definitely is bigger than the lowest number, it’s hard to imagine him being longer than 6-foot-6 right now, and even that might be generous. While solidly built, the future Spartan lacks great mass and is a fairly lean athlete with long legs and a decent wingspan.

Carr makes up for his lack of length with an uncanny ability to find his spots, his extreme jumping ability and with visible heart. He gets extremely low for rebounds and will fight people for loose balls. Even if he had trouble punching above his weight, he almost always presented his much bigger opponents with plenty to think about and has shown a great understanding of positioning himself for boards. Paired with his physical talent, this knack for tracking the bounce of the ball could be a lethal combination going forward.

Offensively, most of Carr’s game will happen around the basket, either from drop-offs, lob passes or through backdoor cuts. Transition, of course, is another strong suit for Carr. His athleticism allows him to get into plays that won’t be possible for other people and normally he is fairly active away from the ball. His measurements would indicate that he will be a wing at the next level, but right now his game is more suited to a four-man in college. He can play either spot, though, but might spend more time at the power forward position.

As of now, Carr struggles to constantly create shots for himself, and while his handles are decent, they are not advanced by any stretch. Most of the time, he drives in a straight line to the basket and uses his quickness to get by his defender. While he is able to hit quite a few shots from the outside, his jumper also needs a bit of work in the future. Ball rotation looks good, but his form is very inconsistent. His herky-jerky movements at times make it hard for him to square up his body and he sometimes lets go of the ball being turned almost sideways. But there is clearly potential here, and once Carr gets reliable in that area, it would only make him that much more dangerous as a driver.

Defensively it’s hard to judge Carr as his regular team mostly plays zone, and in the summer circuits, it’s not always easy to pinpoint someone’s defensive game. Nonetheless, Carr basically has everything that you look for in a potentially dominant defender. It will take him some time to learn all of the man-to-man principles that Izzo requires from his players, and Carr needs to constantly be aware of his surroundings.

At the high school level, Carr can allow himself a few lapses here and there as he can often times recover due to being such a great athlete. In college, that most likely won’t work anymore and would limit his playing time rather quickly. Yet, from everything you can see, Carr is an extremely hard and committed worker, a kid that will run through a brick wall for his team and someone who won’t back down from any challenge. He should eventually be a strong defender.

Coen Carr’s potential role at Michigan State

Regardless of where Carr will spend most of his time in the lineup, his role will be more than just being attached to a position. Due to his individual profile and his special traits, he gives Michigan State the kind of player that it hasn’t had in recent years — someone who will out-jump, out-run and out-athlete most opponents that he sees, even if they are wearing the colors of Duke, Kentucky or Kansas.

The Spartans, with a guy like Carr (and all the other guys in the 2023 class), won’t ever be at a disadvantage athletically from the start in any match and that is even more important when you consider that Jaxon Kohler, a likely centerpiece in the upcoming years, doesn’t offer much above the rim potential. The versatile Carr also gives Izzo great balance for his lineups, as he is a player in the 6-foot-6 to 6-foot-8 range that can play either forward position, should be able to defend almost up and down the entire lineup and can be used accordingly to any matchup.

If Carr will ever become a go-to scorer on the wing remains to be seen. Right now, his game and his makeup would rather indicate him being a guy who does plenty of dirty work, plays tremendously off the ball and will do all the little things that you need in order to win a lot of games. Of course, it is way too early to make any such long-term projections, but even if Carr doesn’t develop into a guy who can create plenty of chances for himself, there is already plenty of intrigue in his game for him to become valuable for the Spartans.

He actually addresses some areas that the Spartans have struggled with in recent years — defensive rebounding, tenacity on the glass and overall athleticism. It’s all good and fine to have skilled-below-the-rim players like Joey Hauser, but you need guys like Carr to make up for the lack of the physical attributes at other positions.

Early on, it could be hard for Carr to really crack the rotation as he is a true “tweener,” yet that might also work in his favor long term. He is the type of player that can have a big impact in a smaller role due to his work ethic, and with more physical maturation, he could easily carve out a do-everything role as a multifaceted wing or power forward for the Spartans.