Purdue fans have seen this happen before. It was an ACL injury, and most knew it right away. When official word came out on Monday, it was upsetting for Boilermaker fans.
In just a short time on Purdue's campus, Carter became a favorite. Even before his stellar signature performance in the Boilermakers' win over rival Indiana, the fifth-year senior guard had grown on the loyal fan base. He represented what it takes to be in the Purdue program—work ethic, perseverance and true toughness.
"Sterling gave all he had for the program this year and did everything we asked of him since his arrival last summer," Purdue coach Matt Painter said.
Painter found the fifth-year senior in the small basketball program of Seattle University. The move was a quick fix for a roster in flux, but it turned out to be an important addition. Carter became an impact player for the young Boilermakers. He emerged as a starter midway through the season, breaking an early skid in conference play to become a confident player.
The turnaround for Carter started with a call back home to Seattle, speaking with family members he's so close to. He was encouraged to leave it all out on the court.
The move to West Lafayette was a difficult one for Carter, leaving behind his family and home in the Pacific Northwest. But he quickly became part of the close-knit campus at Purdue. Fans embraced his hustle plays and sweet three-point stroke. Teammates and coaches admired his leadership and example.
A key moment came after Purdue's road loss to Michigan, where a frustrated Carter let loose in a postgame interview.
"I go out there and play hard every game," Carter said. "I play hard I practice. There's pretty much noting more I can do.
These words spoke volumes to Purdue fans. His game matches the sharp words. This is a player who understood what it means to be a Boilermaker.
See the play against Indiana, where Carter dove to the floor and deflected the loose ball off a Hoosier and out of bounds, keeping possession for Purdue. This was part of his top performance, leading the Boilermakers past their rivals.
It was a gift from Carter to his mother back home in Seattle, one day after her birthday. He was pouring everything onto the Keady Court, just as his family had wished.
Carter gave everything he could to Purdue, leaving an indelible mark in such a short time. Perhaps his example will carry on with the young team. At the very least, it will be remembered by Boilermaker fans.
The news of Carter's career-ending injury is simply devastating.