When five-star Wendell Carter Jr. committed to Duke in 2016, he was expected to become the Blue Devils' go-to big man of the future.
That was until Marvin Bagley III stunned many by committing to Duke in the summer of 2017 and subsequently reclassifying to play early. Landing Bagley, who instantly became the No. 1 prospect of the 2017 class, was a late-cycle coup for the ages for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff. But it was unwelcome news for Carter Jr. and his family, who said they weren't informed of Bagley's plans prior to Carter Jr. signing with Duke.
"My initial reaction, I was pissed," Kylia Carter, Wendell's mom, told NBC Sports. "And it wasn't pissed because Marvin was coming. To be honest, I felt like that was information that was kept from us. It felt (shady), it felt like my baby was gonna get kicked to the curb. I felt like all of that."
And she plans to let Coach K know she isn't happy about what happened.
"We have not had our conversation but we will. We almost went there with him when we did our exit interview," Kylia Carter said. "But he'll come around to a Bulls game and I'll get the chance."
Wendell Carter Sr. was a but a bit more understanding, but clearly not happy with how everything went down.
"I tell people 'people make promises they can't keep.' It didn't bother me," Wendell Sr. said. "I was concerned because I felt like we were lied to. 'Oh, Wendell's gonna be the man' and then the rug was pulled from under us."
Carter Jr. could have looked for a situation that may have benefited elsewhere, but he stuck it out. He didn't produce at the level he was initially expected to in college as the shadow man for Bagley III, but he was a top-10 pick in last week's NBA Draft. His mother says that is a credit to his reaction to keep his head down and work despite the surprise of Bagley's decision that would eat into his playing time and production.
"He told us it bothered him at first. But he said 'I gotta make it work,' " Kylia Carter said. "You're gonna do all the stuff you already know how to do. And you're gonna do it at an extreme level. Everything but score. Do everything else to aid.
"Everybody knows you can score. So let Marvin have all the damn points. They're throwing him the ball, the offense is geared around him. Why are you beating your head against the wall."
Carter Jr. scored 13.5 points and pulled down 9.1 rebounds per game for Duke in a secondary role last season. In his new home with the Chicago Bulls, who picked him No. 7 in last week's draft, he'll get a chance to thrive as a go-to big man -- perhaps in a situation he expected to join before Bagley joined the Duke fold last summer.