By Peter Mallett
Boys and girls from all over the world grow up dreaming that they will one day be able to play sports in college and the pro ranks. With around 8 million students currently participating in high school sports in the U.S., only about 460,000 of them will compete at collegiate level. From this select group of athletes, only a very small fraction will become professional athletes. Coming out of Bruton High School in Williamsburg, VA, Marcus Carter fell into the 1% of 541,054 men’s high school basketball participants that made the jump to play at a Division I school in 2014 . Shortly after a summer stint at University of Maryland Eastern Shore in the MEAC, Marcus decided to transfer to Christopher Newport University. Now as a sophomore, Marcus is dominating the Division III game while filling up his own personal trophy case with awards and All-American stats. Still the question remains, was the decision to transfer to CNU the best step on his journey to success on the court? Carter thinks so and he has aspirations to be a leader by example with dreams to take the CNU program to new heights through teamwork and dedication to their system.
“In middle school we won the 8th grade championship, we played really well and my stats were high. I was already talking to the high school coach about next year playing varsity as a freshman. I kinda realized that I could actually do something with this and then a lot of people just started telling me I could play basketball in college, so I listened to their advice and took advantage of it.”
After graduating high school in 2014, Marcus committed to play at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) for summer school and basketball camp. The stint at UMES did not last long and he ended up transferring to CNU for the Fall 2014 semester.
“It didn’t really feel like home, so I had my release forms ready to go to come play for CNU. CNU recruited me and I wanted to come play for a great program and Coach John Krikorian. Also I feel at home with Coach Art Ross because I have known him for a very long time. The campus is beautiful to me, and I had a couple of family members that played here to so it seemed like the best place for me to be.”
Once he transferred to CNU, Marcus immediately made an impact on the Captains’ program and started winning awards. His freshman season he was named CAC Rookie of the Year. This past season Carter was named CAC Player of the Year and he is the first player in CAC history to win Rookie and Player of the year in back to back seasons. Along with being named player of the year, Marcus was named a 1st team All-American for Division III and he was the second basketball player in CNU history to receive that honor. In addition to that he was also named the District Player of the Year for the Mid-Atlantic Region. His final and most recent award was from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) where he was named a first team All-American. Many people wonder why Marcus transferred to a Division III program when he obviously could have been successful in Division I, but he says he is happy to be a Captain.
“Lots of kids grow up and have the dream to play on the big stage, Division 1 basketball and some kids really can play at that level. But a lot of people don’t know that sometimes people can go play at the Division 1 level at a bad school or with a program that they don’t end up liking and then they want to leave. The real biggest dream for me as a kid is playing in the NCAA Tournament. So I have the opportunity to say, I play for a great university with solid program that made it to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. The key for me is having success in the tournament and enjoying my time with a great team.”
During his time at CNU, Marcus has become a leader by example on and off the court. He says that there are three main people that have helped him take his game to the next level: teammates Logan Miller and Hunter Wetherell and Coach JD. Logan Miller is one of Marcus’s roommates and he is always pushing Marcus when they workout together. Hunter always motivates Marcus on and off the court to work on his craft and be a better all around man. Coach JD always sits Marcus down during games and says two specific things: let the game come to you, every game is not the same and adjustments always need to be made. Marcus credits all of these men with motivating him to be better teammate, friend and man.
In terms of his own personal success in winning lots of awards this season, Marcus credits his teammates for pushing him to better.
“To me these awards I got are not individual awards, they are all team awards. They choose me for these awards, but I couldn’t have gotten any of them if I didn’t have: Tim a big stud in the post, Aaron a quick guard who can shoot the three, Rayshard pushing the ball down the court, Kevin coming in and hitting clutch plays, Justin getting big boards and hitting huge shots and Connor, Hunter and Ben leading as the three seniors. I know I personally put my work in, but these awards are for the whole team.”
As the team had an amazing season on the road to the Final Four, Marcus credits their bond as a team off the court for as one of the major factors.
“The bond of the court really made this season great, this year is crazy with how close we are. Even still now in the offseason we see at least some of our teammates every single day. From the Freshman to the Seniors, we all want to hangout with each other every single day. So the off the court bond and brotherhood we built was the major key to our success.”
As Marcus looks forward to next season, his goal remains the same and that is to win as a team and enjoy the journey. He personally wants to improve on ball handling, being more efficient as a shooter and overall getting in better fitness shape. In terms of the team, he feels now as a upperclassman his job is to help get the younger guys mentally ready to accept the challenge and play against grown men.
“As an older guy now, I gotta lead them by words and action. But also we need to set the tone early for ourselves, put us at high level from the beginning of camp so that we can grow from there and become successful as a unit.”
When it comes to his legacy as a CNU Basketball player, Marcus is very open about being a team player and serving others. He wants to be remembered by his coaches as someone that played hard every time he touched the court. He wants to be remembered by his teammates as somebody who is fun to be around and puts in effort on the floor. He wants to be remembered by the fans and students at CNU as a great guy and leader on campus who was supportive of his friends and other CNU athletic teams. The journey that the CNU Men’s Basketball team had this season was remarkable and it was so much fun to watch for me personally as a CNU Athletics employee.
“I take the most pride in the journey we had this season, from October all the way to March. From day one, we never got mad each other or broke apart. Even as the year went on we got stronger through bonding together. So I look at my personal success this year and say I’m blessed to have received those awards, but I’m more proud about the journey we took as a team this season on the road to the Final Four.”