During a competitive 2019-2020 season for the Central-Phenix City Red Devils, guard Xavier Carnes quickly became a player who caught everyone’s attention. As it turned out, college coaches were among the group who took note of Carnes’ efforts.
Carnes received his first scholarship offer from Virginia Prep Sports Academy in Thaxton, Va. The opportunity to play at the next level appears to be the first of several for Carnes, who has also been in contact with coaches at Huntingdon College in Virginia.
For Carnes, the offer validates the immeasurable work he’s done in order to improve his game.
“It means a lot to me and my family. I say that because I will be the first in my family to go to college and play basketball,” Carnes said. “A lot of people doubted me because of the lack of recruits in my area, but it’s all God’s plan. I’m just very blessed to have an opportunity to play at the next level.”
During his junior year at Central, Carnes established himself as the Red Devils’ most reliable player. Carnes averaged 13.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.8 steals per game for a Central team that battled its way through a highly-competitive Area 4-7A against Auburn High and Smiths Station to grab the area’s second seed in the state playoffs.
“He’s probably one of the most dedicated young men I’ve coached in a while. He’s more of a slasher. He drives the ball well to the basket. He’s pretty good doing that. His shot is coming around. I’m hoping this year will be something like a breakout year for him,” Central coach Bobby Wright said. “Quite honestly, he was pretty much our backbone. Xavier was the most stable guy and most consistent guy I had on the team. To have a young team like I did and to have only one starter coming back from the previous year, he stepped up and kind of took over for me in terms of leadership.
“If there was any information for the players, he was going to be the one to get it to them. He was always the rah-rah kid who was going to try and get the other kids better. He’s a good kid to have as a teammate.”
Carnes explained he’s worked tirelessly to improve his play leading up to this point. He said his focus has been mostly on getting more and more shots up, and he feels he’s made tangible progress in that part of his game. In addition to constantly shooting basketballs, he’s been working out twice a day and emphasizing getting better on finishing through contact. He’s also eager to become a better leader as part of a Red Devils team that has big goals for the upcoming season.
Carnes said the team was not satisfied with the losing record it had last winter, and he’s already recognized that this group is hungry to achieve more. His personal goals are to maintain the same energy every game, limiting turnovers and playing smart on a consistent basis.
Carnes knows what he wants as far as the next level is concerned, saying he wants a school that fits him best and one with established programs in either sports medicine or nutrition and health services, two of his potential majors.
Carnes said he’s excited for the team to get back to practice on July 1 as the players begin working toward the upcoming year. Carnes’ efforts thus far have earned him looks from colleges, but that has not made him content as he gears up for his senior season at Central.
“I’m excited but I’m not ready yet,” Carnes said. “Until that day comes, I will continue to improve on my game. It’s going to be a crazy senior season for me.”