When it comes to role models, Wichita State junior Darius Carter goes right to the top of the basketball world.
He is from Akron, Ohio, hometown of LeBron James. His cousin is Maverick Carter, James’ business manager and longtime friend. Darius Carter grew up attending James’ games at St. Vincent-St. Mary High in Akron. He has played pickup games with James and visited him in Miami.
Carter earned NJCAA All-America honors at Vincennes (Ind.) University, causing James to tweet a picture of the certificate and the message: “Congrats to my lil cuz dcarter12_ on the achievement. On to the next journey.”
“When I go to Miami in the offseason to train, he’ll be there and I’ll work out with him sometimes,” Carter said. “It’s great to see how hard he goes, even though he has all the success. He’s LeBron James, best player in the world, and he still works like he’s trying to get there. That’s definitely something I’ve picked up.”
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There are no complaints with Carter’s work ethic around Koch Arena. Carter, a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged 15.8 points and 8.3 rebounds as a sophomore at Vincennes. He helped Vincennes finish fourth in the NJCAA tournament, averaging 19.5 points in four games.
The Shockers need immediate contributions from him as they rebuild a frontcourt without Carl Hall and Ehimen Orukpe from last season’s Final Four team. Carter’s length and athletic ability should make him a factor in the post and at power forward backing up senior Cleanthony Early.
“He’s athletic and really versatile,” senior center Chadrack Lufile said. “He won the dunk competition (at Shocker Madness). I knew that was going to happen.”
More important, he is working hard and open to instruction on the court and in the weight room.
“He’s a pleaser,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “He’s a guy that wants to be a good player very badly. He can certainly score. He can really run.”
Carter started his tenure at WSU in a good way by asking for extra work in the weight room and making a quick adjustment to the demands of an NCAA Division I strength program. He knows he will need to guard bigger players at this level.
“I like to try to do everything right,” Carter said. “I like to let (Coach Marshall) know that I’m listening to him and trying to do what he tells me to do. I want to be a great defender and rebounder.”
Carter received his first taste of Division I competition in WSU’s closed scrimmage with Baylor last weekend in Bethany, Okla.
“We played great as a team,” he said. “It was different from practice, because in practice we’re killing each other. It was much easier playing against other people.”