Wendell Carter Could Be Next Great Superstar

Duke senior Brennan Besser discussed his former teammates, as well as his two-month bike ride across America

The DA Show
July 18, 2018 - 1:43 pm

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Brennan Besser might not be the most well-known Duke basketball player, but he is among the most noteworthy. The senior shooting guard biked from Seattle to New York City from May 16 to July 17 to raise $1 million for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD).

“My legs have been perpetually tired,” Besser said in studio on The DA Show. “But I’m excited to be in New York. I’m feeling great.”

Besser, a Chicago native, biked more than 3,500 miles – roughly 60 miles a day – while also leading basketball clinics along his route. He was joined by his sister, Rachel Besser, co-president of Walk On America.

“Our goal was to try and put on a basketball clinic in almost every stop for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Besser said. “(We did) four-and-a-half, maybe five-and-a-half hours of biking a day to do our 60 miles. Then we’d put on an hour-long clinic, or we’d do an hour-long clinic in the morning and then I’d get on the bike. It fluctuated here and there, but that was the standard regimen.”

Besser’s older sister, Jacqueline, 23, has autism and is nonverbal.

“She’s the inspiration for the project,” he said. ‘Our family is a part of the IDD community. We’re fortunate to have resources to assist Jacqueline, but we know that there are a lot of people out there that are not as fortunate. That was the basis for this trip. How could we help? How could we start a national movement to try to empower individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and really create this narrative that it’s a call to confidence. It may seem like you’re alone when the day-to-day challenges are hard, but it’s going on all across the world.” 

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski supported Besser’s mission.

“Coach K is from Chicago. We have that special connection,” Besser said. “He was unbelievably supportive. I think at first when I actually sat down and told him the idea, he was maybe slightly shocked. I am known on the team for being in practice the guy that dives on loose balls – maybe a little bit crazy at times, but in a good way. He digested it, was unbelievably supportive, and made sure that we got the type of exposure and coverage that was necessary to spread the word.”

Besser, a walk-on, also discussed his Duke career. He has played with multiple lottery picks, including Brandon Ingram, Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter, and Luke Kennard.

“I’ve seen so many great talents,” Besser said. “I’m a hoops fanatic. It’s really been special. Obviously through the years there have been so many great players it’s almost hard to decipher who's better than the other. But I will tell you, Wendell Carter, who just got drafted by my hometown of the Chicago Bulls, I’ll say it on the record: I think he could end up becoming one of the next great superstar players.”

Carter, 19, was the seventh overall pick in the draft. The 6-10 forward averaged 13.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists at Duke while shooting 41.3 percent from three.

“He’s a big guy, he’s strong, he has guard capabilities, he’s got a jump-shot from three – so he’s a talent,” Besser said. “(He’s also), by the way, an incredibly kind guy. The physical ability, if you can make it to Duke as a basketball player, that’ll be inherent. But Coach – and this coaching staff – brings in people with great character. And within that realm, Wendell as a player and as a person really has just blown me away. We have a great friendship.”