Penn State Basketball

Penn State women’s basketball: Lady Lions land top recruit

Amari Carter admits to being a little surprised to seeing her name climb up the rankings of the best high school basketball players in the Class of 2015.

But, she’s doesn’t feel like it’s a number she has to live up to, either

The speedy, left-handed point guard from St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., orally committed to Penn State recently. She becomes the second member of the Lady Lions’ 2015 class, joining 6-foot-3 forward Jaylen Williams of Archbishop Williams in Braintree, Mass.

Carter, a 5-foot-7 guard, will arrive in Happy Valley as one of the highest-ranked players in program history. ESPN HoopGurlz has Carter rated as the seventh-best player in her class. She is a five-star recruit and has a scouts’ grade of 98 out of 100, one of seven players rated that highly.

“I don’t really look at the rankings so I don’t feel any pressure,” said Carter during a phone interview Saturday. “I was kind of surprised I was in the top 10. I’m not mad about it or anything like that, but it was a little surprising to me that I was ranked so high.”

Carter does believe her rise in the rankings has come with her improved play.

Last season, she led St. John’s College by averaging 17.5 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals per game.

“I think I’m a good leader, a good floor leader,” said Carter, when asked to evaluate her game. “I’m really aggressive. I like to get all of my teammates involved and I like to score.”

Her well-rounded game earned her plenty of attention. She narrowed her college choices to Maryland, a Final Four Team last season, Kentucky, which advanced to the Sweet 16, and Penn State, also a Sweet 16 team.

In the end, it came down to Penn State and Kentucky and Lady Lion coach Coquese Washington won out.

“I love it there,” Carter said. “I love the coaches. I love the team. I love the environment.”

Living in ACC country, Carter said that she did not get the opportunity to see much of the Lady Lions on television, but she’s been on campus six times, including camps and football games.

The program’s reputation of developing guards certainly played a part in her decision. Recent Lady Lion guards Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas are in the WNBA and last year’s point guard Dara Taylor was the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year.

“I knew that they had strong guard play,” Carter said. “Coach Washington loves to develop guards and all of their players. I looked at what Alex, Dara and Maggie have ve done over the years when they were there. I think Coach Washington can do great things for me.”

Carter said Washington was ever-present in her recruiting.

“I understand why people who’ve come here say it was because of Coach Washington because she is so great,” she said. “… I feel it is like a family, not just a team and I really like that.”

Family is important to Carter and Penn State’s proximity to home also was a big part of her decision.

“It’s not too far, it’s not too close,” Carter said. “It’s about a three-hour drive, so they can come up and go to games when they want to.”

Thanks to a television show, Carter has targeted her major at Penn State — forensic accounting.

“I was watching Revenge,” she said of the ABC show. “They were talking about what they needed their forensic accountant to look through these accounts to find some money. I was like, ‘I want to know what that is.’ So, I looked it up and I said that sounds interesting.”

She’s happy to have made her decision long before the letter-of-intent signing date in November. She texts often with Williams, who made her oral commitment to the Lady Lions two summers ago.

“It’s such a relief, getting that weight off of your shoulders,” Carter said. “As soon as I committed, it was a great feeling. I’m so excited and so happy.”