Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Shiloh's Robert Carter, a Georgia Tech signee, tranferred for his senior year after starring at Class AA power Thomasville. He hopes to lead the Generals deep into the playoffs.
SNELLVILLE -- At 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds, Shiloh's Robert Carter stands out anywhere he goes.
And as one of the nation's top high school basketball players, he wears a figurative target on his jersey pretty much every time he takes the court.
That situation alone would seem to be enough to rattle many high school seniors, let alone having to adjust to a new community and a new school.
But Carter has gotten used to the center -- or, in his case, power forward -- of attention over the years.
And after transferring from Thomasville in south Georgia over the summer, he is settling in with his new teammates and classmates and life in general in what he is confident will be an outstanding senior season for himself and the Generals.
"It's a bigger environment (than Thomasville)," Carter said of Shiloh. "It's a bigger school and different people, but basketball is basketball. Anywhere I go, I'm going to be a team player. I just want to win. I know these guys want to win. I think together, we can win this thing and make Shiloh No. 1."
The 2011-12 season is still very young, but so far, so good for both Carter and the Generals.
Less than three weeks after signing his national letter of intent to attend Georgia Tech next fall, he has lived up to his billing as a consensus as one of the top 25 players over all and top 10 power forwards in the nation.
He has averaged 19 points, nine rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots in leading No. 6 state-ranked Shiloh to victories in its first two games heading into Friday's Region 8-AAAAA opener against eighth-ranked Berkmar.
That comes as little surprise, as well as a welcome sight in the low post, to Generals coach Kim Rivers.
"Before Robert, I think the biggest guy we've had since I've been (at Shiloh) was about 6-4," Rivers said. "He's a multi-talented kid for his size. ... He's a man down low. I think he's ready, physically, for the ACC. Now, he's still got stuff to work on mentally and in terms of getting into better condition, but that will come in time. His future looks great."
High expectations are something Carter has had to live up to for quite some time.
He first appeared on Gwinnett County's radar as a sophomore, when he put up 20 points and 11 rebounds in Thomasville's 77-65 loss to GAC in the 2010 Class AA state championship game.
He then caught the nation's attention through his work on the AAU summer circuit, as well as averaging 20.3 points. 14.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots per game in helping the Bulldogs back to the state quarterfinals as a junior before moving up to Snellville over the summer and was recruited by most major college programs before he signed with Tech earlier this month.
His move to Shiloh makes him the Generals' most celebrated big-man since 7-footer Jon Mandeldove, who went on to play college ball at Connecticut, and one of the program's highest-profile players ever.
While that kind of notoriety might bring a great deal of pressure, Carter says he welcomes it.
"I've always been a go-to guy. Every team I've played on I've felt like that," Carter said. "I like the challenge. I'm a player. I'm going to a (big) Division I college like Georgia Tech to be a go-to player. And I want to be a pro one day, so I've got to get used to it. I've been doing it all my life. So, I think I'm a successful player. So, between my teammates and me, I think we've got a good chance of winning."
Carter says that the welcoming atmosphere he's experienced since arriving at Shiloh has helped his transition on the basketball court.
While limited experience playing AAU ball and pickup games with other Generals like 7-0 sophomore Trayvon Reed, and guards Christopher Keys and Jordan Gaither has helped, the rest of Shiloh's student body has been equal in helping him feel at home at Shiloh.
"Everybody was pretty nice when I got here," Carter said. "There's some good people here. Of course, there's going to be those people you don't want to (be around), but there are a lot of good people here. I'm really enjoying this school right now."
While Carter's basketball success has made him popular with his teammates and classmates, Rivers says his personality and willingness to be a team player have also helped him fit right in.
"He's just such a well-rounded individual," Rivers said of Carter. "The guys were, of course, excited about having a playing of he's caliber, but he's been really good at helping a lot of the younger guys, and they've welcomed him with open arms.
"He's probably one of the most humble kids I've ever coached with that kind of talent. I think that's a compliment to his parents on keeping him well grounded. And he's got a great work ethic."
That work ethic is something Carter knows will be challenged quite a bit now that he's at Shiloh.
While he faced plenty of challenges while at Thomasville, he believes the competition will be turned up a notch in always rugged Region 8-AAAAA, beginning with a trip to Berkmar on Friday for a head-to-head the defending region champions and 6-9 sophomore Tim Rowe right off the bat.
But Carter also says he is looking forward to the challenge that the region wars figure to bring, and beyond.
"I hear there are some pretty good team in this region," Carter said. "I just want to try to win. I'm used to kind of breezing through the region and winning the region and looking forward to going to state. ... But here, I hear we've got a little more (competition) in the region, and you take pride in winning region."