LAS VEGAS -- Washington coach Lorenzo Romar turned his head and noticed Las Vegas Bishop Gorman forward Ben Carter finishing a media interview following the Gaels’ 89-86 double-overtime loss Saturday night to Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep.
Romar stopped in his tracks on the court at the Cox Pavilion (adjacent to Thomas & Mack Arena) and waited until Carter became available. Romar then shook Carter’s hand and exchanged hellos with the burgeoning Class of 2012 prospect.
A few minutes after that encounter, UNLV coach Lon Kruger met briefly with Carter and his family and officially extended Carter a scholarship offer. Carter has been offered scholarships by BYU, New Mexico, Nevada, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Cal-State Irvine, Portland and St. Louis. He is being actively recruited by Arizona,Washington, USC, UCLA and Arizona State.
The scholarship offers and interest in the 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward should continue to grow as he continues to develop.
“I have definitely become a much better player this year,” said Carter, who posted 17 points and eight rebounds against Findlay. “I worked hard all last summer on my overall game, and I definitely felt like I got better.
“Definitely, my shooting has improved. I am more of a threat from mid-range and my ball-handling skills are getting better. I am also much more physical. I’ve hit the weight room quite a bit.”
Carter’s strength and developing aggressive style resulted in high-percentage shots and trips to the foul line against Findlay. In one sequence, Carter charged hard toward the rim from the baseline, knifed throw two defenders, managed to get the shot up and in and fell hard to the ground following a hard foul.
The foul was called on Findlay center Landen Lucas, who took a few seconds to regain his composure. Carter sprung to his feet right away and headed to the foul line, where he calmly sank the free throw.
“We see Ben in practice every day, so we talk to people all the time about how he has improved over the last six months,” Bishop Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “We trust him with the ball. We clear out and let him handle the ball.
“He can shoot the jumper. And he has a pretty good postup move. He's a high-major player without a doubt.”
Arizona’s coaching staff agrees with Rice’s assessment. Sean Miller and his staff have recruited Carter and Gorman teammates Rosco Allen and Shabazz Muhammad since last year.
“I am really serious with Arizona,” Carter said. “ I know they are a great team. I know Nick Johnson is going there. He's already committed. Then there’s (Class of 2011 signee) Josiah Turner and (Class of 2012 commit) Grant Jerrett.
“I know they have great talent coming in so there is definitely a lot of interest for me going there.”
The most impressive aspect of Carter's game is his air of confidence on the court. He knows he has the versatility to handle the ball on the perimeter and take the pull-up jumper. He is also strong enough to take the ball to the hoop. He plays without fear.
“One thing I've always been taught since I was young by my dad is that I should not be scared of anybody,” Carter said. “That's how I play every game.”
He is lean with long arms and physically conditioned to run against guards and wing players. On top of all of that, he has a good basketball IQ. His father Mike Carter is a former basketball player who has coached Ben in the AAU summer circuit.
The one area he wants to work on the most is his defense. He has another year to work on his defensive footwork and overall agility.
“It has taken him a little longer to get recognized (than teammates Muhammad and Allen),” Rice said. “But he’s always played really well and worked hard on his game. What’s exciting for him is that he will keep getting better.”