By: Aaron Williams
I “met” Kerry Carter when I hit him in the face with a basketball.
It wasn’t on purpose! I happened to be chilling on the half court seat on Gucci Row with my lap top, taking notes on a Friday night game. A loose ball was spiked out of bounds, careening directly toward my most precious possession – I did what came naturally. I stuck my foot in front of my computer, if only to stop the inevitable destruction of all the hard work I have done for DrewLeague.com so far. The ball found the tip of my toe, and caromed straight up. Unfortunately, Kerry had chased the ball out of bounds as well. As it happened, straight up for the ball was exactly where his face was.
When you think about it, this is all Keion’s fault. (Also, I want to apologize – I misquoted the both of them in the MVP preview; Kerry is the second coming of Jonathan Gibson. Or the light skinned version, depending who we’re quoting. But I digress.) If he wasn’t always pushing that sort of non-stop hustle in the players he trains – particularly the ones who play on his teams – Kerry never would have been in that position to begin with.
Or maybe he would. Kerry’s that kind of player. You know the type; plays with reckless abandon, pedal-to-the-floor all 32 minutes, dives after every loose ball, relentlessly attacks the rim like it dissed his mom and owes him money. So that’s bad news for anyone who happens to be sitting on the sideline, standing in his path to the basket, or tries to get past him to score – and really great news for Redemption. With previous MVP Jonathan Gibson out of town on “Association” business, Kerry hefted the load, averaging 20 points a game and leading his team in scoring when their number 1 has been unavailable. He earned a Top Performer nod in Week 2 with 31 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in a win over C.A.B.C., proving that he is more than just a palette swap of Player 1. So don’t call him number 2; not only will this human wrecking ball probably put you on a poster for the insult, but it became clear when Gibson returned, they’re more of a 1a/1b situation. You figure out which.
Kerry always wanted to play at the Drew; watching Kobe Bryant and Lebron James on YouTube gave him the hunger to prove himself against the best as a kid. “Everybody in LA knows this is where you got to come to showcase your talent,” he told me, “You go overseas and you’re from LA, everybody wants to know if you play in the Drew. If you don’t, they wonder why!” Last summer he played at the San Francisco Pro-Am, but says it’s “just not the same” – he wanted to show out on home turf. Gibson, a longtime workout partner, introduced him to trainer/coach Keion Kindred, who saw in him a mix of both guard positions. “He had a great college career. I’m looking forward to big things from him,” Keion says, “A lot of his game is toward the basket. We’re working on his midrange game.” An explosive guard who can get to the rim, Keion knows that this will become tougher at the next level, so he wants Kerry to learn to get to his spots and get his shot off.
This is why both of them are prone to compare Kerry’s game to Jonathan’s. While not as efficient a shooter, one thing Kerry has done – in each year from college to the pros – is improve. “For me Jon is the first guy from my city that I got to see do it first, so you can see a lot of resemblance. I’m used to being number 1 or number 2 on my team, but it’s not an ego thing. Everybody eats,” he observes. Regarding his year-to-year improvement, from West Covina High School, to Citrus College, to St. Mary’s and onto international competition, he explains, “I never stop working. Teams like Real Madrid, I had 9 points in 10mpg. Success is all situation; all the reps you put in will come to fruition.” It’s true; before Jon managed to return, Kerry had led Redemption to an undefeated 7-0 start, and since then they’ve only dropped one game on the way to a number 1 seed in the Stanley Dill Division. While that’s an enviable position for any team to be in, every member of the team follows their coach’s lead in recognizing that they’ve got to take care of business in the playoffs to take home that Drew League trophy – something that Keion hasn’t done yet, despite winning practically every other major basketball competition in LA. So, as the Drew dives into the Playoffs this Friday night, we’ll all be watching closely… hopefully from someplace a lot safer than the sideline. Perhaps, by doubling down on his MVP guard with Kerry Carter, he’s finally found the missing piece to finally earning his Redemption.
Aaron Paul Williams is a freelance writer and has written for DrewLeague.com and Clipperblog. He is also the creator of Compton Beach, a lifestyle brand and media company that seeks to change the way the world views South Los Angeles and benefit the communities he and so many others reside in, work in, and love. Catch him on Twitter: @aaronsmarter.