Fourteen years apart, Perkins and Carter are having similarly productive careers at different Texas schools
Texas A&M’s Chennedy Carter credits her three brothers for helping her become one of the nation’s top collegiate scorers. She told The Athletic, “I grew up with trash talking and all of that. I was like, ‘If my brothers can do that, I can too.’ It made me tougher.”
The junior guard also grew up watching the WNBA, in particular her cousin Jia Perkins, who won a WNBA championship with the Minnesota Lynx in 2017 to cap a 14-year professional career. Carter has worked out with her cousin from time to time, and even back in high school, when Perkins was still playing professionally, Carter claimed, “I think I can go by her and beat her.” She added, “When we step on the court, you are a regular opponent to me. You are no longer a pro. I don’t look at rankings or if you are a pro or a guy or anything. I just go out there and play.”
That confidence has served Carter well at Texas A&M, where she is on track to finish in the top seven nationally in points per game for the third straight season. She is also looking to improve on two straight Sweet Sixteen berths in the NCAA Tournament—though it’s hard to believe that Carter could play better in the postseason. As a freshman and sophomore, Carter led the nation in points per game in the NCAA Tournament, becoming just the second player all-time to do it in two straight seasons.
As I have done with other basketball families (most recently, with the Jones siblings), I am settling the score between the cousins by comparing their college statistics. Since Carter is currently a junior, we’ll look only at Jia’s first three seasons as a student-athlete at Texas Tech. Perkins’s statistics are from the NCAA and Texas Tech women’s basketball websites, Carter’s statistics are from Her Hoop Stats and the Texas A&M women’s basketball website, and WNBA Draft data are from Across the Timeline and High Post Hoops. The top performance in each statistical category is highlighted.
Perkins played in 99 games in her first three seasons, leading her team to 74 wins while averaging 15.2 points per game. But Carter has scored over 400 more points than Perkins in 14 fewer games, as she has missed some time over the past two seasons with injuries and still has several more games to play as a junior. With the Aggies’ next win, Carter will surpass her cousin’s three-year win total.
Carter’s scoring has lifted the Aggies throughout her career, but equally importantly, she is scoring at a relatively efficient rate. She is averaging 1.03 points per scoring attempt for her career and 1.05 this season; the latter ranks in the 76th percentile nationally this season. Carter is a better career 3-point shooter than Perkins by over eight percentage points, but she is not shooting threes well this season, making just 25% compared to 38% and 35% in her first two seasons. Luckily, Carter’s 2-point percentage (52%) this season is easily the highest of her career, though it hasn’t been quite enough to push Carter’s career field goal percentage past Perkins’s.
Looking beyond scoring, Perkins leads Carter in rebounds, blocks, and steals per game, while Carter has the edge in assists. The cousins have the most separation in steals per game, as Perkins averaged 2.7 to Carter’s 1.7, but Carter has ranked among the top 15% of players in steals per game in each of her three seasons. (Perkins is simply on another level—she ranked 45th in the nation in steals as a college sophomore, and her 634 steals in the WNBA rank sixth all-time.) Perhaps the biggest takeaway here—pun intended—is that Perkins and Carter are both extremely well-rounded basketball players, even though many observers focus solely on Carter’s scoring.
In the postseason, the cousins each reached the Sweet Sixteen as freshmen and sophomores, and three of those four trips were as a No. 4 seed. (In Perkins’s freshman year, the Lady Raiders were a No. 2 seed.) High Post Hoops’ Russell Steinberg currently projects Texas A&M as a No. 5 seed in the 2020 NCAA Tournament, which would mean the Aggies would not host the first and second rounds for the first time in Carter’s career. Regardless of seed, though, the Aggies will look to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 2014, a feat that Perkins and Texas Tech accomplished in 2003.
After that, Carter could return to College Station for her senior season, or she could follow Perkins to the professional ranks. “If I’m honest, [the WNBA Draft] is something that has been on my mind,” she told The Athletic in December. “I will make the best decision for me. I am eligible to leave. Will I? I don’t know.”
If Carter does close the books on her college career this year, she could also best her cousin in another stat by April: WNBA Draft position. In his most recent WNBA mock draft, High Post Hoops’ Howard Megdal has Carter as a lottery pick, going fourth overall to Atlanta. “I don’t think Atlanta can pass her up,” he wrote last month. But even if she slips slightly, she is all but assured of being picked ahead of where Perkins was drafted (No. 35 in 2004). That would also make Carter the second-ever first-round pick from Texas A&M, following Kelsey Bone in 2013.
Whether Carter is drafted in 2020 or 2021, Perkins will be one of many people who will have helped her reach the highest level of women’s basketball. In November, Carter reflected on Perkins’s influence, telling Women’s Hoops World, “It’s cool to have a family member who’s been down the road that [I’m] trying to travel on, who’s already been there and paved the way for me.” The cousins’ college careers are pretty evenly matched, but although Carter may be confident in her ability to take Perkins one-on-one, Perkins finished her WNBA career with nearly 4,600 points scored in 440 games. All we can do is wait, and watch, to see which cousin’s pro career ultimately comes out on top.
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