Some guys have really long careers like French player Amara Sy who just keeps grinding and has over 20 years of professional experience. Other guys like Dashaun Wood who was the 2011 BBL MVP in Germany played 10 seasons while there are other players that might only reach 3-4 seasons before they have to hang it up. But what about those players that play only 1 professional season and then stop? A career like that must seem like a blur later when a player looks back at their short time playing the game that they loved for money. Especially in the German lower leagues like the Regionalliga, you often see guys who will cut their professional career´s short after a few years as they realize they aren´t climbing the basketball ladder up into higher leagues the way that they had envisioned. The pay isn´t good as imports often earn only something between 500-800 $ per month and after a few years of enduring that and having to come home to the States and get a summer job is something that is difficult to get adjusted to no matter how big the love for the game is. In the end players often have to accept that feeding their family back home with a real job there is more important and the only solution so they return home having to give up their huge basketball dream. One player who played only 1 professional season in Germany before returning home was Sterling Carter. He was a guy I only watched one time Live, but I never forgot that game. I did play by play for the Hanau team that hosted Sterling Carter and his Dragons Rhondorf on a rainy October evening in 2015 and saw him lose 87-62. It was a typical game for him that season as he scored 24 points while netting his most three´s as a professional with 7. It was one of the many games where he tried to do everything he could while carrying his very young team, but in the end just wasn´t enough as the loses grew and grew the whole season. It was a season where the American often was labeled as the escape goat. Not always fair since the club was so young and just wasn´t as talented as the other German Pro A(2nd division) teams. He ended the season as one of the top scorers in the league, but the club won only 2 games and were moved back down to the third league. Seeing a great offensive player playing for a losing team isn´t rare, but when I didn´t see him play after that again surprised me a bit. “I chose to retire because my family needed me home and the contracts I was offered were not what was going to make me stay overseas. I felt that I played well enough to play in the BBL but never received a offer at that level I was 3rd in scoring in the league and 7th in Steals and I worked hard all season went through coaching changes”, said ex Purdue(NCAA) guard Sterling Carter. Sometimes I wondered if the poor season of the Dragons Rhondorf affected him mentally that helped him also with ending his career. “I wouldn’t say that , that season actually helped me it humbled me and helped me become a leader of a young group of guys. It definitely wasn’t what I expected for my rookie season but I think I just embraced the challenge of having the youngest team in league and mentally the coaching change hurt me more than anything but all in all I enjoyed my time with the club playing in the Pro A”, stressed Ex Seattle(NCAA) guard Sterling Carter. It has been more than 4.5 years since Sterling Carter played his last professional game and is featured in the Miles where are they now player feature.
Sterling Carter was born in Seattle, Washington on July 23, 1990. He began his basketball career at Franklin High School that has been known for producing amazing athletics like ex NFL running back Corey Dillion and well known basketball players like Jason Terry, Aaron Brooks and Peyton Siva. He began his basketball career at the University of Pacific, but that gig was brief and he moved to Seattle University where he played from 2010-2013 playing a total of 64 NCAA games. His first 2 seasons were great stat wise and as a freshman averaged 13.8ppg, 3.3rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 36.4%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 67.4% and in his second season averaged 10.1ppg, 3.3rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 40.0%, 3PT: 36.3%, FT: 82.6%. But in his third season there things changed. He played only 7 games averaging 7.4ppg, 2.4rpg, 1.7apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 14.3%, 3PT: 40.5%, FT: 12.5%. It seemed like he may have had a falling out with head coach Cameron Dollar, but that wasn´t the case. “To be honest with you there was never a fall out between us, the program just decided to go in a different direction and they decided to release me and that was all that took place. Which in the long run worked out better for me. I believe everything happens for a reason“, remembered Sterling Carter. He didn´t mope around like a dog and head home, but put his ego on the back burner and finished his degree. “I knew that there was something else in store for me and it hurt that I couldn’t be a part of a team at the time but I graduated and got my degree for my parents and God blessed me with another opportunity to play at Purdue”, stressed Sterling Carter. His ex teammate at Seattle Prince Obasi who also had a short professional career with 2 years remembers one shooting clinic form Carter with joy. “He made 6 straight 3 pointers off the bench that was so great to watch”, added Prince Obasi.
He then went on to play 1 more year of college ball at Purdue. He made his debut against Northern Kentucky and in the next morning was back in Seattle to witness the birth of his first daughter Aria. When he came to Rhondorf 2 years later, it was only logical that he would choose the #1 for his jersey. “I picked the #1 because that is her age now and because she is #1 in my heart and in my life. She’s also my 1st child“, expressed Sterling Carter. That season with Purdue, he played against so many great schools like Michigan that featured guys like Derrick Walton and Glen Robinson111, or Minnesota that featured Samuel Dekker, Frank Kaminisky and Nigel Hayes or Nebraska that had Shavon Shields, Tai Webster and David Rivers, but his most fondest game was beating Indiana 82-64 where he produced 19 points in 18 minutes. “I would say that was my favorite moment just seeing all the fans happy that we won the game and seeing the coaches excited to beat our rivals”, remembered Sterling Carter. He played 27 games that season averaging 4.8ppg, 1.8rpg, 1.1apg and feels like things could have been different had injury not happened. “I do feel that I would have ended the season with better stats and that I would have helped my team win more games than we did after I got hurt and we might have been able to sneak in the tournament”, stressed Sterling Carter. Despite not having the kind of role that he had in his first 2 seasons in Seattle, the American who lists Isaiah Thomas as his toughest opponent in the NCAA was thankful for the opportunity to work together with head coach Matt Painter. “The one year I spent under coach Painter was great, because he taught me more than I had learned in the 3 years I had played previous on and off the court”, warned Sterling Carter.
Instead of finding a professional team for the 2014-2015 season being a rookie, the American had to stay at home and experience another side of life that many don´t want to see, but often do, especially basketball players who have that neverending basketball dream locked into their minds. He tore his ACL ending his college career at Purdue, was represented by a black sheep agent that promised, but didn´t deliver, and then had no choice but to work three jobs while being a single parent. Luckily he met agent Mike Baron who would change his life “It was the hardest thing I ever been through I could only think of how I wanted my daughter to never have to need or want anything because I worked hard during my time on the court. So while working those three jobs I would work out every night after work even after my 13hour shifts and it was hard but my dream was to be a PRO Basketball player not to work three jobs making 12$ HR but God blessed me with Mike Baron finding me and keeping his word 100%”, stressed Sterling Carter. Baron hooked up Carter with a job with the Dragons Rhondorf a team that had played many years in the Pro B(3rd division) and had just moved up to the Pro A. “Sitting out last season helped my game more on the mental side as I got to watch a lot more basketball and watch the mistakes I made during my college career. Me and my father watch a lot of my film to see where I can be better and I feel now that I’m back 100%. I’m going to be more than ready this upcoming season”, remembered Sterling Carter in 2015. Two and a half months into his rookie season, he was 100% focused on basketball, but also remembers a different type of sore muscles when he was working 3 jobs. “I am very thankful for the opportunity I have gotten to live out my dreams of being a professional basketball player it is a blessing and I thank God everyday for it. I’m also grateful to have a great agent to help make all this possible. I don’t miss anything about working those long hour days. I finally get to do what I love as a full time job”, said Sterling Carter.
The Dragons Rhondorf gave their home debut in the 2015-2016 season against the Kirchheim Knights and got whipped by 26 points as Sterling Carter made his professional debut netting only 7 points on a 3/18 shooting night. It didn´t get any better after that as the club would lose their next 8 games and in November and had a 0-9 record and were dead last in the Pro A standings. A big problem was their defense as they allowed 80 points or more points in 7 of the 9 games. We were having problems keeping people in front of us and making our defense help to much but we have since fixed that problem and we are improving each and every game”, stated Sterling Carter. They finally got their first win against the winningest German BBL title holder Bayer Giants Leverkusen 91-64 as Carter had his best professional game dropping 31 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals on 9/18 shooting. But that victory was short lived as the club then lost 5 games in a row falling to 1-14. In that 5 game losing streak, the main problem remained their defense as they allowed 89 points or more in the 5 games while being inconsistent on offense and having problems putting points up on the board averaging 73 points per game. The club finally would celebrate their next win on January 2nd against Nurnberg 83-65 where he contributed 16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block on 6/17 shooting. I caught up with Sterling 2 days after the win and ultimate joy was on his menu. “I’m extremely proud of the team. We came out and played our hearts out and guys really stepped up in the first half while I struggled a little it gave me confidence to have a better second-half. I’m so proud of the guys from tonight win this group of guys works really hard each and every day and practice so I think that when was this a reward and it shows that we are a better team than what we showed in the first half of the season”, remembered Sterling Carter. His 14 points in the third quarter keyed the win. “I felt like I let the team down in the first half with my struggles and when I got the opportunity in the second half it was my time to take over and win the game but without my teammates encouragement I wouldn’t have came out as strong as I did in the second half”, added Sterling Carter.
In this time a coaching change was made and a few new Americans were added, but it didn´t help anymore. The win against Nurnberg was the last victory for Sterling Carter as the next 9 games would be lost. The defense continued to be inconsistent and erratic as 3 clubs racked up 100 plus points against the Dragons Rhondorf. He had some good scoring games in 40 point losses to Baunach and Vechta netting 21 and 24 points, but who will ever truthfully say he played well when you lose by so much. He then scored 21 points in a tough 86-82 loss against Paderborn. He played his last professional game on February 27, 2016 scoring 5 points in a massacre loss against Gotha 93-47. Instead of finishing the season on the bench, because new coach Christian Mehrens had other plans, he elected to go home. “I worked really hard all season and stuck with the club through a lot of things and then the head coach tells the team he’s only going to play the guys he wants to be back next season and with me having a wife and child I figured it would be best to just go back to my family because it’s not fair to them if I’m just away sitting on the bench. I’ve been away from them for 7 months and if I’m not doing my job anymore no need to keep them waiting my family is very important to me they support my every move”, stressed Sterling Carter. Despite having a strong statistical season, it was tough winning only 2 games and being criticized a lot for not being able to lead the team to success, but re remained 100% professional and had no bad feelings towards the organization. “I’m leaving Germany with my head held high and grateful for the opportunity in Rhondorf that I had to Play my First Professional Season”, stated Sterling Carter in 2016.
A few days after leaving the club, he agreed that a big problem in the season was the never creation of a team chemistry, but the load on his shoulder wasn´t to big for him. “ I think it had to do with that and a few other things but I enjoyed those two wins and I know that me and the guys that was there the whole time those games meant a lot for us to win. it wasn’t too much for me and it was actually a good challenge for me and it has helped me a lot. But with me being a rookie it was hard to gain the trust of a few guys. I gave my all to the club and sad it had to end this way but everything happens for a reason”, warned Sterling Carter. He also stayed 100 professional in always keeping the backs of his young teammates who tried their best, but were also human on the court. “I was never let down by my teammates. They all worked hard and played their best and it was me that had the ability to take and make shots that was my role on the team”, remembered Sterling Carter. His stat line after his only professional season was 25 games played averaging 15.6ppg), 3.5rpg, 3.5apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 34.2%, 3PT: 33.5%, FT: 64.6%. He scored in double figures in 18 games. He took a total of 218 three pointers shooting 33,5%. There was criticism that he shot too much and didn´t create enough. “Those shots I took where the same from the start of the season to the end I was asked to take and make shots and for those people that thought I didn’t create enough. I would just tell them to go back and look at some of the game film. I almost averaged 4 assists a game and I think my team understood what my role was and what I was good at”, stressed Sterling Carter. I would have thought that his 31 point explosion and first team win against the Bayer Giants Leverkusen would have been his fondest moment as a professional, but I was incorrect. “I would say my biggest highlight was my game against Nürnberg when I had 17 points and 10 fassists It was my first double double being a professional and I feel like it showed that I can create and score the ball as well. He learned some lessons while playing professional ball in Germany and also hoped that the fans would remember him in a good light. “I learned that you have to be mentally tough to play professionally and that it takes a strong guy to be able to travel across the country and play in an unfamiliar environment. I also learned that if you want to be the best you have to start at the bottom and earn your respect on your way to the top and I feel that I earned a lot of respect in the Pro A this season. I just want the fans to know that I gave them my all in my time there and that I will forever have them in my heart and wish them all the best for their seasons to come”, remembered Sterling Carter in 2016.
During the summer of 2016 I monitored the transfer market as usual and as the 2016-2017 season got closer and closer I continued not to see Sterling Carter signed with a new team. The new season started a few months passed and still no Sterling Carter overseas. I was a bit surprised after his good statistical rookie season that he hadn´t been signed. In November 2016 I decided to reach out to him with an interview. Perhaps teams did see the 2 wins by the Dragons Rhondorf which at times is more important than the stats put up as well as his many shots as deterrents in his scouting report. “I see that being very unfair I did everything the coaches ever asked for me I got along with all my guys in the team I wasn’t a selfish guy. I’d get myself in trouble by being passive in situations where I should have taken shots or pulled back I did a lot for the team and that was something I thought other teams would have noticed by watching my Film but I was obviously wrong since I’m still sitting at home. I feel like I led by example and focused more about the on the court things then off the court things I worked hard and gave the Dragons all I had last season”, remembered Sterling Carter. When I caught up with the Seattle native, he was somewhat up beat ready to watch his Seattle Seahawks play, but not playing the game he loves was difficult for him. “Honestly it hurts a lot and I thought I had a good enough season to move up and get a decent contract to play this season, but unfortunately I didn’t. I love being home with my wife and daughters but I love the game and it sucks being away from the game”, stressed Sterling Carter. When I heard that not one club had interest in him, I was shocked. But apparently clubs did do their home work and unfortunately stats don´t always lie and not being the tallest guard at times can be a severe road block as well. “The news I got from my previous Agency was that no teams were interested in me and that I was to small to play shooting guard and had too many turnovers to play the point guard and the offers that he did mention to me wasn’t enough money to provide for my family. So I’m in the position that I’m in now sitting at home”, said Sterling Carter. There have been so many smaller guards that have proved at a professional level that they can stick and I feel Carter would have been another guy that would have carved his niche at higher professional levels. The disappointment by Carter was simple to comprehend. “Well to me it it’s an insult to me I feel like I’ve prided myself on the defensive side of the ball my whole career at Purdue University I was looked at as the defensive stopper and shooter so to hear that is crazy to me. But being to small is the same I see guys shorter than me in the NBA and in Europe that continue to play year after year I have the heart of a lion I’ve never worried about being small and I averaged 15.6 points last year at the same height so why does that matter now going into my second year”, remembered Sterling Carter in 2016.
Let´s fast forward to November 2020. Time flies and his playing days are long over, and at times it is difficult not being able to strap on the sneakers and compete hard for 40 minutes on the floor as a professional player. “I miss playing the game a lot and doing what I love and getting paid for it. Most of all enjoying the fans and getting the love from the fans and being a pro when no one thought it would be possible I proved everyone wrong”, warned Sterling Carter´s life is a lot different today than back in 2016. Carter has moved on from professional basketball and just the last 8 months has changed the world with COVID_19 and now with a new American President on board with Joe Biden, America might become great again . 2020 has been a huge challenge for all, but for most like Sterling Carter, he is just blessed to be living life. “I am doing good and my 2020 has been ok Covid-19 definitely has affected some of the things I wanted to accomplish but I am just glad to be alive and I feel like COVID-19 has helped me by giving me more time to reflect on what is most important which is the well being of my wife and kids, as a man taking care of my family is all that matters. ”, said Sterling Carter. It´s been quite a few years since his playing days, but the Washington native has stuck with the game he loves and is now the head coach for Cleveland high school in Seattle. “. I love coaching now being able to give the knowledge that I have learned through my career to the kids I coach. My ultimate goal is to coach at the D1 level, just like my playing days I will continue to work to reach that goal”, warned Sterling Carter. Of course with COVID-19, it hasn´t been easy shuffling family and work, but he has fought through any obstacles and is living life to the fullest. “Life has been great for me as a father I am thankful that my daughters are healthy and as for as my professional life I have been working while Covid-19 has been flaring up across the world I haven’t gotten to Coach my team as much as I would like to have this summer but I am grateful that I was able to get some work in with my players . All I’m all I’m very grateful”, stressed Sterling Carter. There really isn´t a better job for an ex professional player than being a coach at any level. To be able to take that basketball knowledge and experience and help young players develop on the court as well as help them grow as men and shape their characters in the right way. “I just love giving back to the youth I would say I had a decent career and the game took me a lot of places and I want as many kids I can to get that same experience. However for me it’s most important to help the young men grow up and be the best young men they can be”, warned Sterling Carter. Coaching seems to be his main focus in his working life and he wants to continue to climb the basketball ladder as a coach the best way that he can. “My goals are to build up my program up at Cleveland Hs and become a competitor in our league and hopefully do enough to be noticed by a College program. My ultimate goal is to coach at the D1 level, just like my playing days I will continue to work to reach that goal and to be the best coach I can”, warned Sterling Carter. Sterling Carter tried to be the best player he could during his college and professional days and had some memorable games and now as a head coach is going through another process of exceling and just trying to help kids be the best they can be while helping them become respectable men.