After leaving UNCW, former Pender star Jajuan Carr feels rejuvenated with CFCC

·3 min read
Cape Fear Community College's Jajuan Carr takes on his defender during the Sea Devils win over Brunswick Community College last week. Carr is rejuvenated after a difficult first year of college basketball at UNCW.   [KEN BLEVINS/STARNEWS]
Cape Fear Community College's Jajuan Carr takes on his defender during the Sea Devils win over Brunswick Community College last week. Carr is rejuvenated after a difficult first year of college basketball at UNCW. [KEN BLEVINS/STARNEWS]

Jajuan Carr is smiling again, and that's bad news for Cape Fear Community College opponents.

The former StarNews All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year has found a new home this winter with the Sea Devils, and the familiar sights of his explosive game have returned. With a knack for finishing around the basket and a lethal first step, Carr is averaging 14.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists for the 10-5 Sea Devils.

CFCC is coming off its biggest win of the season, with Carr scoring a game-high 23 points in a 96-80 win over arch-rival Brunswick Community College last week. Not long ago, Carr didn't know if he'd ever be the focal point of a big win on the hardwood again.

After graduating from Pender in 2020, Carr enrolled at UNCW with dreams of leading the hometown team to conference titles and NCAA tournaments. Instead, Carr spent one year with the Seahawks. He didn't play in a regular-season game and entered the transfer portal in March.

"There were just some problems with myself mentally that I had to figure out," Carr said. "Going through the COVID year was one of the toughest situations I've ever dealt with. I never wanted to be done with basketball, but I needed to connect with myself before I got back on the court."

Cape Fear Community College's Jajuan Carr receives instructions during a break in the action against Brunswick Community College on Jan. 19. [KEN BLEVINS/STARNEWS]
Cape Fear Community College's Jajuan Carr receives instructions during a break in the action against Brunswick Community College on Jan. 19. [KEN BLEVINS/STARNEWS]

He doesn't blame UNCW for his transfer. The college basketball landscape last year would have negatively impacted Carr at any school.

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He compared the experience to professional players talking about their time inside the NBA Bubble of 2020, with a new routine leading to anxiety and self-doubt. Basketball has always been Carr's biggest passion, but he never wanted it to define him.

So, Carr spent plenty of time re-connecting with friends and family, with the goal of finding happiness in his personal life, and having those emotions roll over to the hardwood.

"Basketball has always been my favorite thing, but I learned I also needed to have balance to be healthy," Carr said. "At UNCW, I wasn't the same person. I'm trying to get back to that good balance now."

Balance has been a little more difficult to maintain in recent weeks. Carr welcomed his first son, Justice Carr, to the world on Dec. 29.

"It's life-changing. And it's a good kind of life-changing that I really couldn't have described before (Justice) got here," Jajuan said.

Jajuan Carr was the All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year in 2020.
Jajuan Carr was the All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year in 2020.

Jajuan is sleeping less, managing a new schedule and enjoying every second of fatherhood. Basketball now has no choice but to take a step back in the list of priorities.

Still, he's hungry to prove himself once again.

Jajuan chose CFCC because of his relationship with head coach Mark Lane and the chance to stay close to home. On the court, his biggest focus is on becoming a consistent shooter. Jajuan has always been able to get downhill and pull up in the midrange, but he wants to be a better 3-point shooter off the dribble and off the ball.

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If everything goes as planned, Jajuan will return to a four-year university in the near future, and because of COVID-19 eligibility waivers, Jajuan is still a freshman.

Throughout high school, the only ambition was to be a D1 basketball player. Now, Carr just wants to be happy, and he knows that is about more than basketball.

"I just want to find the best fit for me both on and off the court," he said. "I don't want to pressure myself. Take things day-by-day, because I still want to win (at CFCC) first before I go anywhere else."

Reporter Jackson Fuller can be reached at Jackson.Fuller@StarNewsOnline.com or 910-343-2262.

This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: UNCW transfer Jajuan Carr rejuvenated at Cape Fear Community College