Greg Carter 'right at home' in Starkville

[Premium article] It hasn't taken long for Starkville Yellowjackets basketball coach Greg Carter, an All-SEC forward at Mississippi State, to get settled in his new job.

Of course, there wasn't much for Carter to do except sit down with Dr. Larry Box, Starkville Superintendent, meet the school board, the returning Yellowjacket hoopsters and the media before getting started.

A favorite among the Maroon and White everywhere and especially in Starkville, home of the Battlin' Bulldogs and the storied Black & Gold, Carter has been able to basically, just pick up where he left off a little over a year ago.

Greg and his wife Schreese, an alumnus of Starkville High School where she was a cheerleader, and their two children, Toria, 9, and Tyson, 4, were spared the sometimes unenviable task of shopping for a place to live. They already owned their own home in the Hospitality City.

All in all, the former two-time All-SEC standout had spent 11 years in Starkville before returning for his second stint in the city, four as a player and seven as an assistant coach on the staff of Richard Williams and Rick Stansbury.

"This is just like coming back home," explained Carter with an enormous smile a little over a month ago upon accepting the head basketball post at Starkville after serving a year as head coach at Brandon.

"Yes, Starkville is like home to me," he said. "It's where I met my wife, Schreese, and its' where I've played and coached in college."

Twice named SEC "Player of the Week" his senior campaign, Carter paced the 1990-91 SEC Co-Champion Mississippi State Bulldogs in rebounding (7.8 rpg) and field goal accuracy (56.5 percent), finishing third in the conference in both categories. He scored 15.4 ppg, second on the team and ninth in the SEC, his senior campaign, and averaged an even 13 points a game as a junior.

Carter, 33, played two seasons of professional basketball overseas (Cyprus and Mexico) before returning to his alma mater as an assistant coach under Williams and Stansbury, two outstanding floor leaders.

"As soon as the season overseas was over I'd return to Starkville," said Carter after wrapping up a basketball camp session Monday. "It was home then and is now."

To say that Carter has long been an icon in Starkville is putting it mildly. Even after hanging up the sneakers, collegiately and professionally, he continued to play in City League pick up games and tournaments.

It was in tournament play that the former MSU whiz became acquainted with another pretty competitive and equally talented hoopster himself, Starkville Police Capt. John Outlaw, a 6-6, 255-pound bruiser under the boards, and the father of one of the most talented prep stars in the nation, highly-touted 6-10 Yellowjacket senior center-forward Travis Outlaw, who committed early to Mississippi State.

"We've had a few one-on-one encounters, all in fun," explained Carter, the two-time recipient of MSU's "Best Defensive Player" award, while earning the team's prestigious Babe McCarthy Memorial Award as a senior.

"John's amazing," said Carter nodding his head. "For a guy his size, he can play. He can clear out down low. I always tried to get him to come out on the perimeter and guard me, where I thought, perhaps, I had a better chance of getting to the basket. He usually wouldn't go for that. But we had fun."

Now for the other side of the equation as told by Capt. Outlaw:

"First, I think Greg Carter is an outstanding young man," said John Sr. "I played against him in the City Leagues and I watched him play at Mississippi State. He was a great player.

"I was impressed when he said the 'first thing we are going to do here is bring the team back into the picture,'" said Outlaw.

About their "one-on-one" battles, John Sr. acknowledged: "Greg tried to lure me out on the perimeter, get me out from under the basket," he said of MSU's No. 23, the Dogs' lightning-quick, 6-6, 215-pounder who once played 57 minutes in an incredible, four-overtime, 104-102, win over instate rival Ole Miss.

Carter gets his athleticism honestly. His father, Alvin Carter, was an outstanding defensive end at Jackson State. Two of his cousins played in the NFL. Perry Carter was a defensive back with the Oakland Raiders while Rashard Anderson was a first round pick as a DB with the Carolina Panthers.

Both the Carter children, Toria and Tyson, have already begun to display their athletic skills, too.

Toria has already told her parents "she's going to play basketball" just like her dad, while Tyson "loves to get on the coliseum floor" and "dribbles a basketball anytime he can get his hands on the ball," according to his father. "Tyson loves to go to the gym."

For the more immediate future, Carter will have a dozen or so young Yellowjacket hoopsters under his wing headed by versatile Travis Outlaw.

"Travis has tremendous talent as everyone knows," said Carter. "In fact, I like all our seniors (three returning) and I've been impressed with some of our younger players, too."

The Yellowjackets' first-year head coach said the three veterans - Outlaw, Rodney Hampton and Norvell Jackson - "played well" during the 2002 State Games held recently at Meridian.

One of the future players to watch is Starkville backcourt standout Jarvis Hill, just a sophomore, but plays "like a senior" according to Carter.

"We've still evaluating the players. We haven't spent a lot of time on offense, but hopefully, we're going to be aggressive on both ends of the floor. We're going to press and trap some and do some other things.

"I'm always looking for something that will work with the personnel on hand," said Carter, who eclipsed the 1,000 point barrier while starting every game during his junior and senior seasons, and leading the Dogs to school-first, back-to-back postseason tournament appearances during the 1989-90 (NIT) and 1990-91 (NCAA) seasons.

"I love basketball - all aspects of it - coaching, camps, clinics, teaching, and watching film. I like what I'm doing. I feel like I'm definitely in it for the long haul," said Carter.

Back in his own backyard, Carter looks like a firm fixture in the land of the home-standing Bulldogs and the tradition-rich Black & Gold.

Don Foster, a 31-year veteran newspaper writer, is the Sports Editor for the Starkville Daily News. He will be writing regular feature articles for Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports and Mississippi High School sports on the internet.

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