Now that the Big Game is over, it's time to turn our attention briefly away from the gridiron and back to the hardwood as A Sea of Blue continues its series on the current Wildcat team. Last time we looked at Joe Crawford, and previous to that, Ramel Bradley. Today, we will look at our star-crossed big man, Jared Carter.
Back in mid-2004, Jared Carter was a big body but only a mid-major recruit, drawing interest from the likes of Western Kentucky, Jacksonville State, and Marshall. No big-time programs had Jared on their radar, a testament primarily to his undeveloped basketball skills. At Scott County, Jared got by primarily on his 7'2" frame, but in the summer of 2004, he played well enough to start hearing from a few mid-majors. Jared was a very late-blooming player.
Then, in October, bigger schools began calling as the 2004-05 season got underway. First Boston College, then Vanderbilt and Illinois began to express interest in the Scott County giant. Boston College emerged as the early leader for Carter's services. While Jared liked Western, he clearly was focused on bigger programs than the Hilltoppers. As midwinter of 2004 came along, Tennessee entered the mix and shortly thereafter, Tubby Smith began to express interest. Carter continued to improve at Scott County, averaging nearly a triple-double and causing a national stir. Carter recieved an offer from Kentucky in February, but at that point, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati, North Carolina and Kansas started contacting Jared about his services. At the time, Carter was averaging 15 points, 9 rebounds and 8 blocks at Scott County. When North Carolina offered Carter a scholarship a few days later, the heated recruiting battle for his services had officially begun.
In March, it was all over. Jared Carter verbaled to Kentucky as a member of perhaps the weakest recruiting class Kentucky had ever signed.
In 2005-06, Jared showed some promise early by being aggressive in the paint and demonstrating many of the skills he had developed in his last year at Scott County. But Jared was limited by his slow footwork and inability to defend the faster and stronger SEC centers. Carter averaged only 5 minutes per game on that team, and contributed little.
The present has largely been a nullity for Jared, basketball-wise. In October of the 2006-07 season, he dislocated his right shoulder in practice and was held out until the Wildcat's sixth game of the year. Jared appeared in three games in 2006 before re-injuring his shoulder in practice. Jared had reconstructive surgery on his right shoulder and sat out the rest of the year, with the intention to apply for a medical redshirt at the most advantageous time.
The injury bug simply wouldn't leave Carter alone. In June, Carter dislocated the shoulder again, forcing yet another surgery. He is currently recovering from that operation as the 2007-08 season approaches.
The future is very murky for Jared Carter. Because of the many injuries he has now suffered to his shoulder, there is concern among many in the know that he may never play significant minutes in a Wildcat uniform, and that his basketball career at Kentucky and elsewhere may be over. This would be a tragic outcome for the Scott County big man, who many believed would grow into a solid center with seasoning.
At a time when Kentucky really needs a big presence in the paint, a completely healthy Jared Carter would really help the Wildcats. Even if Carter would be expected to do little scoring, he could provide a shotblocking and rebounding presence that Kentucky could really use, and would enhance our chances for a successful season in 2007-08.
There has been little news out of UK about Carter's rehabilitation, but word on the street is that he is recovering nicely and is shooting around. He has reportedly put on some weight, now checking in at a robust 270#, although little is likely to be the type of lean muscle mass Jared needs. Still, we have to hope that Jared will completely recover and be able to compete for the Cats this year. If so, I think he will help us, although in a fairly limited fashion. With some significant playing time and hopefully injury-free, Carter may yet develop into a serviceable SEC center.
We'll have to wait, and hope.