Michael Carter III, who graduated from O’Dea in 2016, helped the Fighting Irish to the Class 3A Final last spring and he earned All Tournament honors for his efforts. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 17 points per game. After spending time with the Elite Sports Academy this past season with their Elite Prep team, Carter verbally committed to the University of San Francisco in early November.
But since he didn’t sign a letter of intent, Carter was still available when Washington made inquiries. And once the Huskies decided the fit was right, Carter didn’t hesitate to announce his intentions to stay home and go to UW.
That announcement came late Thursday night.
“I kind of had an idea when they texted me and said they couldn’t wait to get with me at my next meeting with them,” Carter told Dawgman.com about his decision. “From there I knew possibly I would get an offer from them but I wasn’t 100 percent. I was more like 75 percent sure.
“When (Will Conroy) first contacted me a couple weeks ago I didn’t know what was going on. I was just going with the flow. I didn’t think it was going to be anything too big. It was just getting to know the coach. I didn’t know they were going to offer me. When they called and they told me that they wanted me I kind it all came to real life. It was different than the other offers. I could stay with my family. Stuff like that made it more exciting.”
When the decision was finalized, it was big smiles all around.
“A lot of excitement, a lot of joy,” Carter confirmed. “Coach Hop and Coach Dollar and Coach Conroy were all very, very excited. My family was excited too. At San Francisco they wouldn’t be able to see me play as much. Sometimes on TV. Someone I really wanted to see me play is my grandmother because she was a big part of my life and she doesn’t really get out as much when it comes to sports. Staying really made my family excited.”
At the same time, Carter admitted the call he had to make to the San Francisco coaches was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do.
“That was very tough,” he said. “I built a strong relationship with one of the assistant coaches, coach Phelps. Calling him and letting him know that I’m not going there anymore was super tough for me. I’ve never had to do that to anyone. To let him know I wasn’t going to play for him was super-tough on me and tough to let him know I wasn’t coming.”
What stood out to Carter when it came to Washington’s new head coach? “One thing that really stood out was how much passion and energy he has for the game and for teaching his players,” he said of Coach Hopkins. “He has a lot of energy, works out with them. I’d never seen that. He works out with them a lot. He also said to me that I was a great player for their program because I’m tall, and athletic. When he told me that, I was like why not? It’s always a school I’ve wanted to go to. That stuck to me a lot.”
Carter also gave his thoughts on Conroy. Great guy, but he pushes players, and I think that’s what players like about him,” Carter said of Conroy. “He’s definitely going to push you as hard as you’ve ever been pushed in your life. But when you’re doing good he’s also going to compliment you and make sure you know he sees what you’re doing and that you’re doing good. But when you’re doing bad he’ll also get on you. I think players respect that a lot about him, and I think coaches do too.”
Only 5-11 ‘on a good day’ back when he was a sophomore at Franklin High before moving to O'Dea the following year, Carter had a couple of growth spurts, the final one happening this past year, that now see him at 6-foot-5.5.
“Both my parents are short, so…,” Carter’s voice trailed off when asked if he expects to grow any more.
Carter said a mindset change from his junior to senior year, a change he credited to O'Dea Head Coach Jason Kerr, helped get him to where he is today. “I wasn’t taking it as serious as I should have been,” Carter admitted. “I was still trying to get D1, but I wasn’t taking it as serious as I should have been. I think Coach Kerr really helped me with that. I started working out a lot more. My trainer Ryan Stefan out of Bellevue, he really helped me a lot from being unathletic to now people say I’m super-athletic. When I started working out more I started seeing more results in practice. That helped my senior year because it gave me more confidence.”
And now that hard work got him to the point where he’ll be suiting up in the purple and gold this fall, in his favorite number 14.
“Growing up that was my first number,” Carter said. “It changed in high school because somebody else already had it or the jersey wasn’t there. Being 14 next year will be good for me because it’s my favorite number.”
But most importantly to Carter, he’ll be a Husky.
“Growing up in Seattle as a kid, everybody wants to go to U-Dub,” he said. “That’s everybody’s dream school when they first start coming up in the basketball community. That’s the place where you go and see all the guys playing and stuff in open gyms. When they called me I was super-excited because I had just been there working out and stuff, shootaround. I always pictured myself making a big shot and playing with the crowd.”
What should UW fans expect to see from Carter when he finally gets in a game at Alaska Airlines Arena?
“You’re going to see a player that has a chip on his shoulder, a team player but can also score,” he said. “You’re going to see a dude that has a lot of energy and you’re going to see a kid that looks like he enjoys playing the game.”
And any final thoughts for Husky fans?
“Get ready because we’re heading back to the big dance.”
Carter is expected to sign his letter of intent this coming Wednesday, the first day of the regular signing period for basketball.