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Penn State Basketball: Carr Steps Into Leadership Role As Captain

by on February 06, 2017 8:00 PM

Penn State's future depends on its youth so it may as well get its leadership from there too.

And so the Nittany Lions will turn to freshman Tony Carr as a team captain, a first under head coach Pat Chambers, who has reserved that role for veteran players.

Carr is now working alongside Shep Garner, Payton Banks and Terrence Samuel in Penn State's captaincy group. The three upperclassmen started the season with that role.

“I think Tony is ready for that torch,” Chambers said on Monday. “He’s ready and he’s willing, and he wants it. And we’re gonna give it to him.”

“He’s gonna be right there alongside the other captains,” Chambers added. “He’s ready for it, he wants that pressure...that responsibility. He wants it. He understands what it means. We had a long talk about it, about taking care of business, about doing every little thing you need to do to help this program be great. And yourself.“

For Carr the increasing role seems like a natural fit. A leader throughout his successful high school career, he is sharp, one of the first things you notice when he speaks and even more apparent as you watch him scan the floor. While all of Penn State's heralded freshmen have shown glimpses of their potential, Carr's calming presence has been a constant throughout the year. His claim to being the highest rated prospect among the newcomers is an easy case to defend some 20+ games into the season.

“It’s been great just trying to lead the guys more and kind of having that title,” Carr said. “I was trying to step up and be the leader since I got here. But for coach to put that title on me now, it’s a little more responsibility. I’m definitely looking forward to it. Nine times out of 10 the point guard is going to be one of the leaders, just me being a freshman and coach to be honoring me with this role I'm just so excited and ready to get out there and lead the guys."

The biggest shift for Carr and his fellow freshman counterparts is the grind of Division I basketball, more specifically the losing. Carr and company enjoyed near flawless high school careers. Not to say their wasn't heartbreak, but their collective dominance in Philadelphia allowed for a certain amount of protection from the less enjoyable aspects of high level basketball.

But for all of the struggles there is a sense Carr and his teammates are learning a new way of life, albeit not without a clear and present desire to change that trend.

"Thinking back to high school, I hate losing more than I like winning," Carr said. "So us being on a three-game losing streak and kind of having a pretty tough season as we stand right now, it's very different for me. I'm just so concerned about doing what coach says and keep working hard every day in practice and just stop the losing."

And the close losses, all by a few baskets? It's a lesson learned that didn't quite make sense at the outset of the season.

"It's funny because when coach got here he always used to yell 'possession' between every free throw," Carr added. "Just to let us know that it's going to be a one possession game and I didn't really get why he would do that until we got into the Big Ten and every game was decided by two or three points."

All told, if Carr is dispirited by the ups and downs you wouldn't know it. If anything, his presence in the Bryce Jordan Center practice gym after Penn State's last second loss to Rutgers on Saturday is a good sign for fans and the program. Even if it was to lose a one-on-one game with his brother of just nine years old.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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