Chennedy Carter brings Hollywood to the WNBA

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If you're into horror movies, go to YouTube and type in "horror shorts." When you've done that, grab some snacks and make yourself comfortable on the couch because you'll be there for a while.

This rabbit hole with 15-minute strands of hair is a great distraction after a long day at work or a lazy weekend. And if you're a 22 year old native Texan playing pro ball in Turkey and looking to do something after a game, you couldn't ask for a better escape.

"I'll check this out," says Chennedy Carter, peeking out from under a black Bathing Ape hoodie on a recent Zoom call. “I like all scary films. With the pandemic, it took me away (from going to the theaters). I went to the cinema like every Friday. I didn't miss Annabelle or The Quiet Place. "

For much of the early fall, Carter was playing international ball in Elazig, Turkey, a historic city of about 300,000 people about a 12-hour drive from Istanbul. Elazig doesn't have many nightly gimmicks, so Carter spent her free time calling Call of Playing duty, doing some shopping, and watching spooky movies.

"I'm such a movie person," says Carter, appropriately dubbed "Hollywood" by friends and fans – although the nickname has a lot more to do with her flashy style of play than her preference for streaming. “I like to lie down and just watch different films. This is me. I am cold. I don't really need too much to keep myself company. My (PlayStation 4) gaming system, my Netflix and Hulu and I are good. So I stay here. "

It can be terrifying to be so far from home, especially when the coronavirus fears are very much alive. Even so, Carter defied the unfavorable conditions to play in Europe. She felt she had no other choice.

"I just knew that I had to do something to make money – and to take care of myself and my family – that I had to leave school," she says. “I was prepared for it. I just spoke to my agent on the phone. He checked that my sanity was good and that I was okay. I thought: yes, I'll do my best. "

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Can you say it out loud. In Elazig's first three games, Carter averaged 16 points per night. She looked especially comfortable during a contest on Oct 10 when she went for 26.

Unfortunately, this was the last time Carter played in an Elazig uniform. Less than a week after our interview, Carter and the team split abruptly. At the time of going to press, we hadn't heard the official reason for her departure and couldn't confirm any rumors on social media that she might be playing for another club overseas this year.

We're not going to speculate about what happened in Turkey. We just know that the team has benefited from their presence wherever super-soft Carter has played before. She graduated from Timberview High School in Arlington in 2017 as McDonald & # 39; s All-American and # 6 espnWs with a 70-4 record in both her junior and senior seasons.

Carter took these dominant trails a few hours south to Texas A&M. While in College Station, Chennedy carved her place in the record books (high school highs for a season average, 23.3, and most points in a single game , 46) and shaped her name in numerous trophies (National Freshman of the Year 17) -18; three-time All-American) while regularly striking through SEC defenders with Michael Myers-like precision.

"Chennedy's ability to create for herself and others is what sets her apart," says assistant coach Kelly Bond-White, who is starting her 19th season with Aggies. "What makes them special is their true desire to want the moment in clutch situations."

Coach Bond-White points to A & M's match in the second round of the 2019 NCAA tournament with Marquette as the perfect example of Carter's killer instinct. The game was a back and forth between evenly matched teams – until you add the Carter factor, of course. Chennedy exploded for 30 points and 9 rebounds, displaying an arsenal of skills in the crucial moments of the 2-point win – a nice touch, timely passes and tight defense. (Oh, after your horror movie marathon, check out "Chennedy Carter Highlights" on YouTube. You won't be disappointed.)

(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIuGh9ivTwE (/ embed)

This must have been one of the games Atlanta Dream saw as the franchise didn't flinch when it came time to make its pick for the first round in the 2020 WNBA draft.

"We couldn't be more excited to welcome Chennedy and her family to the ATL," Dream head coach Nicki Collen told reporters after hitting the 5-9 Carter with the fourth pick. "Chennedy is a talented goalscorer with great speed, dexterity and strength with the ball in hand. We believe that with time and commitment, Chennedy has the chance to be a special player in Atlanta."

That's a terrifying thought.

I'm not sure Chennedy has seen the horror short Other Side of the Box. It's a creepy little movie about a couple who got given a box of an eerie surprise that gets closer and closer to you when you take your eyes off it. It's strange as hell.

The same premise basically applies to Carter's game. A combo guard's blur can dribble on the centerline in a minute, but if you take your gaze away from her for even a second, she'll be zooming right in past you for an acrobatic layup for the next minute.

Chennai Carter

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"The (Atlanta) coaches have done a great job getting my game used (at a professional level)," says Carter. “You said, before we get to the (WNBA) bubble, we need to pick up your pace. We need to make sure you make room when you take a step. We know you are used to being visited by people in college, but it's a little different in the league. You need to create a little more space on your crossover. I think my coaches made my transition really easy because they believed in me. "

The jump from NCAA to WNBA can be daunting. The intense exercises. The general speed. The physical toll in color. The A’ja Wilsons. The Brittney Griners. That is much. But if you've been paying attention, you know Chennedy Carter is a whole different animal.

"I just feel like I've been good after three games," says Carter, who averaged a dream high of 17.5 points a night. “Those first three games were kind of my testers, the icebreakers. Everyone was set (for the games). Everyone said, Yo what are you doing with the newbies? After I got comfortable, I started to find myself. "

Ask Washington about her. The Mystics and the Dream only met once at the Wubble. The Mystic's Guards likely still have night sweats because of the 26 points the rookie scored in the Dream's season finale.

And it didn't just terrorize the league's lean teams, either. In a meeting on August 6 with eventual champion Seattle Storm, Carter showed 35 points, becoming the youngest player in WNBA history to score more than 30 points in a game. Easy to see why she was a unanimous WNBA all-rookie pick.

(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdGsxCct5UI (/ embed)

However, the season presented its challenges. An ankle injury put Carter out of action for about two weeks. Chennedy watched helplessly as the dream went 5-1 in her absence, cementing the team's second loss in a row.

Lack of talent is not Atlanta's central theme. The most improved player in the league, Carter, Elizabeth Williams and Betnijah Laney have many Hellraisers on the roster. The young squad just needs more time on the pitch as a unit.

"I think we need to have more exercises together," says Carter. “We have a lot of people who were late because of COVID (related issues). This is doing something to your body. It was a challenge for her to be back out there and have her legs under her again and really get used to the pace.

"I feel like we could have a normal season and really spend time in training and get to know each other a little bit better – and it's not that quick together – I think we'll be at that level."

But if the dream is to completely drive out the recent playoff demons – Atlanta missed the postseason in four of the last six campaigns – Carter must take the lead. "I just want to add more sauce to my game, more unexpected (play)," says Carter, who admits she spent part of her Netflix time watching the documentary series The Last Dance repeatedly.

"If I go to the edge you think I'm doing a layup, but in the end I'll do a fadeaway step backwards or something. Just being more unpredictable, I'll add that to my game. Even though I've only played a year, I want to change everything I do anyway. When I come back, I'll change it and expand it as much as possible – be it defensive or offensive. "

Coach Bond-White adds, “I expect Chen to remain open to learning. She is surrounded by the greats in our game. She is a sponge, even if it doesn't seem like she's listening or taking notes. She is learning and will put everything in her arsenal. "

WNBA, consider this your only warning because as soon as Chennedy Carter finds everything she's coming for blood.

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DeMarco Williams is a SLAM employee. Follow him on Twitter @demarcowill.

Photos via Getty

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