Braeden Carrington, a 6-foot-3 guard from Brooklyn Park (MN) Park Center, become the first Gopher commitment for the Class of 2022. He is one of the top guards in the Midwest in the Class of 2022 and is ranked as the number eight senior in the state by Prep Hoops.
Carrington averaged 18.1 points per game this past season. He scored in double figures in 15 of 19 games as the Pirates finished 16-5, losing to then-undefeated Champlain Park 69-63 in overtime in the section finals. Carrington scored 30 or more points four times, including 33 points in a first round 72-56 playoff over Roseville.
GopherHole caught up with Carrington to learn the latest on his college decision.
Gopher Hole: You committed to Minnesota. What was the main reason that you decided that homestate school was the right fit for you?
Braeden Carrington: It was nothing like any other school. From the head coach to every assistant coach, they were always showing the same amount of love. Not every school was doing that, so to me, it was just special that every coach was showing me the same type of love that the head coach was. It’s the hometown school, so that just added onto the decision and when I walked into Williams Arena on my visit Tuesday and I thought “This is beautiful and I could see myself playing here for however many years, 4, 2, whatever.
GopherHole: You are the first high school player to commit to new head coach Ben Johnson. Is that a special feeling knowing that you are the first commit that he got?
Braeden Carrington: They have been saying that they want to build around me and I’m like the foundation for high school players. If they see me come in, they might think Ben Johnson can really win here, really start a good team and have a good future here.”
GopherHole: You are also the first Minnesota commit from the state as well. Does that make it even more special since Coach Johnson has made getting the top local players to stay home a priority?
Braeden Carrington: Yes. He definitely made me a priority. It’s nice knowing that he is really trying to focus on getting Minnesota kids. Once he can lock down a few, he can go outstate and try to get more. It just shows that he really loves the state and he is starting to show love and giving back to his old team. It’s nice because you have the whole city behind your back. I had fans texting me, so it’s nice knowing that everybody thinks it’s a good decision too, not just me.
GopherHole: Recruiting is a little bit different with so much emphasis being placed on the transfer portal. Did that play a part in you making your decision when you did since some other recent commits felt that they needed to decide now rather than lose out on an opportunity?
Braeden Carrington: To me, that didn’t really play a part. Coach Johnson told me that he has a couple of scholarships that he was going to use for a couple of transfers and then the rest for high school players. I committed now, because I just felt like it was right. I felt that there was no need to see any other colleges, because it just seemed like they (Minnesota) were giving me so much love. I didn’t think that any other school could touch that. It was just the perfect fit for me.
GopherHole: Minnesota was also recruiting some other players at your position. Did that also play a part in you making your decision when you did?
Braeden Carrington: Not really. I just felt like it was the right time, so I just decided to commit then and not wait, because there was no point. If I waited longer, I just feel like there would have just been more pressure on my shoulders.
GopherHole: How did you commit to Minnesota?
Braeden Carrington: We were on my visit and we just done seeing Williams Arena. We went back to the hotel for a break and I told my mom “that I think this is it and I think I am going to make my decision today.” They picked us up to go out to eat. There was all the coaches and two players. We ate for a little bit and then I texted Ben and asked him how long it would take for an edit for my commitment tomorrow. At first, he was kind of confused. He was like “Oh, really, are you being serious?” Then, he figured out I wasn’t joking and he got up all excited. Thorson was jumping up and down.
GopherHole: What was the reaction of the other people at the restaurant?
Braeden Carrington: They were like “he really decided.” They were all happy that they finally got me committed, because they had been trying for so long. They asked me when my final decision was and I said when we toured Williams Arena and they said “You mean you waited five hours to tell us this.” They were super excited.
GopherHole: Were the other people at the restaurant wondering what was going on?
Braeden Carrington: A worker came in because he heard them saying congratulations and brought us some desserts. The manager came in and said “That’s cool. I hear we got a new Gopher.”
GopherHole: I know that you just committed, but do you feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders already?
Braeden Carrington: Yes, definitely. I feel like talking to all these coaches was getting sometimes repetitive and sometimes I was just hearing the same stuff. Some of the coaches, I felt like, weren’t even trying to recruit me that hard. To get it out of the way, now I can just focus on my high school season and after that, getting ready for college.
GopherHole: What is it going to mean to walk on the court at Williams Arena as a college freshman for your first game?
Braeden Carrington: It’s going to mean a lot. I’m going to have, how knows how much people, just for me. My family. Teachers from my high school. Friends. So, there are going to be a lot of people for me my first home game, for sure. It’s going to special. A couple of years ago, I never thought I’d be playing Division I basketball like this, but once I started getting better and improving my game, it started becoming a reality and it actually is going to happen. I feel sometimes like, I still don’t believe it. I got to really put on a jersey until it happens.
GopherHole: You are playing in the Pacesetter event this weekend with your Park Center team. What are the expectations for the upcoming year?
Braeden Carrington: I’m actually sitting out the Pacesetter. I have a knee injury, but I’ll be there to support. This year, they are expecting us to go to state and hopefully, win it. We have a bunch of returning players and we have a couple of younger players. I feel like we are set up and this is the best chance we have and it might be our last chance for Park Center in awhile. We’ll see.
GopherHole: Last year, you got knocked out by Champlin Park, but you gave them three very close games to a then-undefeated team. All those games were super close. Does that make you feel like you are very close to getting to the state tournament?
Braeden Carrington: It was hard losing that game. It was a game that we should have won. A few less mistakes and we are going to state. It is a chip on our shoulder and something that we have to fight for. This year, I feel like we are going to work a lot harder. We should be able to get there, if we play our game.