It is not enough to just look at the numbers. Not that they don't speak for themselves. Coming into Scott Drew's Baylor men's basketball program, Tweety Carter had scored more points than anyone in the history of high school basketball. He was Baylor's first ever McDonald's All-American. He has contributed since the moment he stepped foot in Waco, and his Baylor basketball career is not over yet. The Bears are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the 2nd time in 3 years, and Tweety Carter is the undisputed leader of the most successful class in Baylor history. While Carter, a senior guard from Reserve, Louisiana, prepares for another trip to the Big Dance, he took some time to reflect on his legacy at Baylor.
The recent history of Baylor basketball is well-documented. And at the time, the down and out Baylor men's basketball team needed something to get back to winning basketball games. Enter Tweety Carter.
"I wanted to be a part of something special," says Carter about his decision to sign with Baylor. "What Baylor went through was a sad situation, and it could have happened anywhere. For Coach Drew to come here, and take this job, and recruit great kids, and Christian kids, it was eye-opening to me. This city needed some people to come back here and lift it back up as far as men's basketball was concerned. With CJ [former Baylor guard Curtis Jerrells] and them setting the tone, it allowed me, Lace [Dunn], Ekpe [Udoh], and Josh [Lomers] to be successful."
And successful they were. In Carter's sophomore campaign, the Baylor Bears were selected to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years. He started the final 8 games for the Bears, and averaged 9.6 points and 2.8 assists per game. But his role as an underclassman was undefined; a scorer that seemed to be in a spot shooter's place on the floor. Baylor was full of athletic guards. Guys such as Aaron Bruce, Curtis Jerrells, and Henry Dugat all split time in the backcourt. The Bears lost to Purdue in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament.
In Carter's junior season, it appeared that the Bears were headed to yet another NCAA Tournament. However, a rough conference stretch all but shattered the notions of a back-to-back NCAA appearance for the Bears. Carter had a bigger impact on the team. He started 36 games, averaged 10 points and 3 assists a night. Yet, still, it seemed as if the team belonged to senior point guard Curtis Jerrells. And while the rest of the nation may have written the Baylor basketball team off as a contender, the Bears made an improbable run in the Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship. Knocking off Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas in 3 consecutive days put Baylor in the final game against Missouri. A win and the Bears would go dancing again.
But it wasn't meant to be. The Bears' legs were shot. 4 games in 4 days was too much to overcome, especially against a talented Missouri Tigers team. Baylor lost to Missouri, yet received a bid to the NIT Tournament. Victories over Georgetown, Auburn, Virginia Tech, and San Diego State allowed the Bears to get to the NIT finals. The Bears' incredible turnaround season ended with a loss to Penn State in Madison Square Garden, but the torch had been passed. And Tweety Carter appears to be lighting the way.
Carter's senior season has proven to be one of the most successful in Baylor history. Their 24 victories this season are the second-most regular season victories ever. (Baylor won 25 in 1945-46). The Bears are a lock to make the NCAA Tournament once again, and have earned a #3 seed in the 2010 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship. And last Saturday, in a game that saw Baylor complete a sweep over the Texas Longhorns for the first time since 1997-98, the Bears played in front of the largest home crowd ever.
"I think we have come a long way," Carter says of the fan support shown in the Ferrell Center on Saturday. "For it [Ferrell Center] to be sold out was incredible. To go out like that was just a blessing. To sweep those guys, Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech, I don't think we have ever swept three teams. To be a part of that is just an honor. But it is a new season now."
And while the senior point guard leaves no doubt that the postseason is in the forefront of his mind, he realizes the magnitude of success that he has helped create at Baylor. His career numbers are indeed noteworthy, and his superlatives are to be admired. However, the humility and leadership Carter displays are to be forever remembered. He not only averages 15.8 points a game, but he also averages over 6 assists a game. Carter has shown the ability to score when his team needs it, and to pass the ball when required. He preaches defense to his teammates, and he realizes the importance of team unity. He calls the underclassmen his brothers, and is not shy about calling his Baylor teammates his family. And as the team prepares for the conference tournament, Carter points to one event as the highlight of his collegiate career so far.
"Getting selected to go to the NCAA Tournament. It was the best feeling in the world. Not knowing what was going to happen, and then being the last team called, that was just a blessing to me."
Rarely do 4 years pass by in anyone's life, much less a college athlete, without at least one regret. For Carter, however, he leaves Baylor with no regrets, but rather a level of maturation he wishes he would have obtained earlier in his career.
"Everything happens for a reason, so I never try and look back. But, I would say just I should have let God show me the way more than what I did."
And with that, Carter will once again lead his team out of the locker room, lead his team on the floor, and lead his team in his last NCAA Tournament run. But someday Tweety Carter will return to the Ferrell Center no longer wearing the green and gold jersey he has worn the past 4 years. And years from now, if someone were to see Carter from a distance, point him out, and talk about the guard from Reserve, Louisiana, what is it that Carter would want them to say?
"There's Tweety Carter. He's one of the amazing, fun guys to watch play basketball. You know he would come out and play hard every game."
Tweety Carter Leaving Lasting Legacy
Bears Illustrated Top Stories
5 Keys: Texas LonghornsWe take a look at 5 keys that could secure a Baylor win on Saturday
Bears Illustrated12:05 PM
Game Predictions - Baylor at TexasGet the full predictions for the Bears versus Lonhgorns.
Bears Illustrated6:33 AM
Big 12 2016-2017 Basketball PreviewBig 12 basketball is almost here. Campus Insiders' Jordan Cornette gets fans ready for the 2016-2017 season by predicting which team will win the conference, who will be the player…
Bears IllustratedYesterday at 2:24 PM
Bears Try to "HexTex" Once AgainThe 6-0 Baylor Bears travel to take on the 3-4 Texas Longhorns Saturday afternoon.
Bears IllustratedYesterday at 9:55 AM