Sunday, Nov 04 2012 06:16 PM

CSUB men's basketball preview: Carter set for one last run

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    Henry A. Barrios / The Californian CSUB's Stephon Carter is in his senior year at the university.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Former Garces High standout basketball player Stephon Carter has become a leader in his senior year at CSUB.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Stephon Carter, who had a sensational career at Garces High, has become a leader in CSUB's basketball team as he enters his senior season.

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BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer

Throughout the Division I history of Cal State Bakersfield men's basketball, it seems like Stephon Carter has been the one constant.

Carter, a highly recruited high school senior out of Garces, chose CSUB four years ago and was immediately heralded as the program's first top-notch Division I recruit.

Related Info

All times Pacific Standard; all home games at 7 p.m. at Icardo Center, unless noted.

Friday — Texas-Arlington, 6 p.m.; Nov. 11 — at Cal-Berkeley, 7 p.m.; Nov. 14 — at Sacramento State, 7:05 p.m.; Nov. 17 — Loyola Marymount; Nov. 20 — Westmont; Nov. 24 — at Wyoming, 6 p.m.

Dec. 1 — Texas-San Antonio (Rabobank); Dec. 6 — at Cal State Fullerton, 7:05 p.m.; Dec. 9 — at South Dakota State, 1 p.m.; Dec. 15 — La Verne; Dec. 17 — at Portland, 7 p.m.; Dec. 19 — at Colorado State, 6 p.m.; Dec. 22 — vs. North Florida at Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, 2:30 p.m.; Dec. 23 — vs. Southern or Miss. Valley State, 12:45 or 3:45, Orleans Arena, Las Vegas; Dec. 29 — at Loyola Marymount, 7 p.m.; Dec. 30 — North Carolina A&T (Rabobank), 4 p.m.

Jan. 2 — at San Diego State, 7 p.m.; Jan. 5 — at UNLV, 7 p.m.; Jan. 9 — Cal State Fullerton; Jan. 19 — Nebraska-Omaha; Jan. 23 — at Santa Clara, 7 p.m.
Feb. 2 — Utah Valley; Feb. 6 — Wyoming (Rabobank); Feb. 9 — Cal State San Marcos; Feb. 12 — at Texas-San Antonio, 5 p.m.; Feb. 14 — at Texas-Pan American, 5 p.m.; Feb. 20 — South Dakota State (Rabobank); Feb. 23 — Pacifica College

March 6 — at Seattle, 7 p.m.; March 9 — at Utah Valley, 6:05 p.m.

Justin Omogun
Yr/Pos: Sophomore forward
Ht/wt: 6-8, 240
Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Major: Liberal studies
Notes: Averaged 14.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game at Western Nebraska CC.

Tyrone White
Yr/Pos: Senior guard/forward
Ht/wt: 6-7, 185
Hometown: Portland, Ore.
Major: Business marketing
Notes: Led CSUB with 54 3s last season and ranked third in scoring (7.7). Played 17 games as freshman at Utah State and played at North Idaho CC as sophomore.

Brandon Barnes
Yr/Pos: Junior guard
Ht/wt: 6-1, 195
Hometown: Atlanta
Major: Business management
Notes: Son of head coach Rod Barnes. Played one season at Lipscomb University (Tenn.) where he averaged 6.4 points and 3.6 rebounds. Sat out last year per NCAA transfer rules. Averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds as senior at Chapel Hill High School in Douglasville, Ga.

Matthew Ratto
Yr/Pos: Junior guard
Ht/wt: 5-11, 160
Hometown: Modesto
Major: Communications/public relations
Notes: Academic All-American at Modesto JC. Four-year varsity player at Ripon High School. Also played baseball and soccer at Ripon. Ranks second all-time in scoring at Ripon.

Zach Lamb
Yr/Pos: Senior guard
Ht/wt: 6-3, 180
Hometown: Norcross, Ga.
Major: Art
Notes: Ranked second on the team in scoring last season (10.2). Had season-high 31 points vs. Utah State. Played two years at Miami-Dade College in Florida. Younger brother Jeremy played on UConn’s national championship team last season. Father Rolando played on NCAA Tournament qualifier Va. Commonwealth in 1984.

Mo Hughley
Yr/Pos: Senior forward
Ht/wt: 6-7, 240
Hometown: Queens Village, N.Y.
Major: Liberal studies
Notes: Averaged 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds off the bench last season. Had 15 blocks, 41 assists and 25 steals. Played at Chaffey JC as freshman and Paris JC in Texas as sophomore.

Issiah Grayson
Yr/Pos: Senior guard
Ht/wt: 5-11, 165
Hometown: Atlanta
Major: Liberal studies
Notes: Led CSUB with 179 assists and ranked 25th in the nation with 5.8 assists per game last season. Led team in steals (62) and was third in scoring (10.2). Played freshman year at Va. Commonwealth and sophomore year at College of Southern Idaho.

Javonte Maynor
Yr/Pos: Sophomore guard
Ht/wt: 6-0, 175
Hometown: Snellville, Ga.
Major: Biology
Notes: Played for CSUB coach Rod Barnes his freshman year at Georgia State, where he ranked second on the team in 3s (51) and averaged seven points a game. Sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules.

Kregg Jones
Yr/Pos: Sophomore forward
Ht/wt: 6-8, 235
Hometown: St. Georges, Barbados
Major: Business administration
Notes: Sat out last season as redshirt. Played in 23 of 28 games in 2010-11 with four starts. Played senior year in high school at Army-Navy Academy in San Diego where he averaged 10.2 ponts, 8.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.

Britton Williams
Yr/Pos: Freshman guard
Ht/wt: 5-11, 155
Hometown: Bakersfield
Major: Business management
Notes: Played on Liberty’s section championship team in 2010-11. Earned all-league and All-Area honors while excelling academically. Also plays the piano and writes screenplays.

Adam Young
Yr/Pos: Senior forward
Ht/wt: 6-8, 235
Hometown: Las Vegas
Major: Liberal studies
Notes: Started 23 of 30 games at CSUB last season, averaging 4.7 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. Played freshman year at Alabama A&M, starting 22 of his 27 games, and his sophomore year at Barton CC (Kan.).

Corey Hall
Yr/Pos: Junior forward
Ht/wt: 6-7, 210
Hometown: Chicago
Major: Liberal studies
Notes: Averaged 12 points and 11 rebounds last season at Ventura College to help the Pirates reach the SoCal Regional Finals. Career goal is to play pro basketball.

Erik Kinney
Yr/Pos: Freshman forward
Ht/wt: 6-4, 210
Hometown: Fairfield
Major: Computer science
Notes: Helped Sacramento High School to a section championship last season. Had a 3.0 GPA in high school.

Dee Wallace
Yr/Pos: Sophomore guard
Ht/wt: 5-10, 150
Hometown: Oxford, Miss.
Major: Physical education
Notes: Spent part of the 2011 season at Nebraska-Omaha. Parents Thomas and Phyllis both work at CSUB, in academic advising and as the vice president of student affairs, respectively.

Stefon Johnson
Yr/Pos: Senior forward
Ht/wt: 6-6, 210
Hometown: Cincinnati
Major: Sociology
Notes: Played three seasons at Gardner-Webb (N.C.), where he started 28 of the team’s 32 games last season. Will sit out season per NCAA transfer rules. Was a McDonald’s All-American nominee as a senior at Princeton High in Cincinnati.

Stephon Carter
Yr/Pos: Senior guard
Ht/wt: 6-3, 180
Hometown: Bakersfield
Major: Liberal studies
Notes: Begins season No. 7 on CSUB’s career scoring list (1,142 points). Needs 379 points to become the program’s all-time leading scorer. Started 28 of 31 games last season, averaging 12.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists to earn a Div. I All-Independent selection. Led team in scoring as junior and sophomore (14.3), was second as freshman (13.0).

Tyler Smith
Yr/Pos: Junior center
Ht/wt: 6-11, 265
Hometown: McLoud, Okla.
Major: Liberal studies
Notes: Played two seasons at Howard College from Big Spring, Texas. Played on Oklahoma state championship Putnam City High School team in 2010.


And now, as Carter is about to start his final year of college basketball, he is rewarded with competing on a winning team. And he's closing in on the school's career scoring record.

The Roadrunners went 16-15 last season and earned the program's first postseason berth in the tournament in coach Rod Barnes' first season at the helm.

The goals are even higher this year, Carter said. CSUB enters its final season as a Division I independent before it joins the Western Athletic Conference for the 2013-14 season.

"We expect to win 20 games," Carter said. "If we don't get 20 wins, we don't think it's a successful season."

Carter suffered through 7-22 and 9-19 seasons in his first two seasons at CSUB. Now the talent level around him is much higher and the wins have followed.

The CSUB scoring record is held by Kenny Warren, who had 1,521 points in his four seasons from 1990-94. Carter, seventh on the all-time list, needs 372 to pass Warren, and 150 to pass the next five and move into second place.

"It would be nice to get it and be a part of history," Carter said.

Warren's record is within reach. Carter's scoring totals in his first three seasons were 376 points his freshman year, 400 as a sophomore and 374 last season.

Ironically, one factor that could prevent Carter from breaking the record is the talent that now surrounds him.

"By far" it's the best talent he's played with as a college player, Carter said. Which means the scoring will likely be spread out among more players.

But Carter remains one of the team's go-to players, Barnes said.

"The thing is, he's got to get baskets for us to be successful. We won't change that," the coach said.

What Barnes seeks from Carter is better shot selection. Because of the talent surrounding him, Carter won't need to launch an inordinate number of shots each game.

"Our hope this year is to cut down on the number of shots he takes," Barnes said. "What we want is a higher shooting percentage but with fewer attempts, along with better free-throw percentage and better 3-point shooting percentage."

Carter said he has spent the off-season working on his shooting.

"Last year I averaged 12 points," Carter said. "I shot 20 percent from the 3. I shot 66-67 percent from the free-throw line.

"If I shoot 35 percent from 3 and 77 percent from the free-throw line, that's 18-19 points (per game). That's what I've strived for, to get my free throws and my jump shots more consistent."

Carter has also taken on more of a leadership role this season. He isn't shy about verbally building up teammates.

"I'm an energetic person," he said. "Especially when I play I like to talk. I'm real active. I just want to lead by example, to let them know I'm coming to play every day regardless if I'm sick, hurt or sore. Coaches want me to do that so that's what I'm doing."

In his first three seasons, Carter was frequently assigned to defend the opponent's top guard.

That will likely continue this season, but Carter again has help.

Brandon Barnes, Rod Barnes' son, and Javonte Maynor are capable of stepping into that role if Carter gets into foul trouble. But there's talent everywhere, Carter said.

"We're stacked up. The team is deep," he said. "That's what we strive for: having depth. Practices have been intense."

CSUB's fans will see an improved team from last season, Carter said.

"We're athletic. We're going to get up and down the floor. You'll see a lot of fun," he said.

"Our team is a lot of individuals from all over the country -- Portland to California to Chicago to Barbados, to down South to New York. Seeing it all come together is a great thing. Our chemistry on the court is incredible."

Carter nearly left CSUB when former coach Keith Brown was fired after the 2010-11 season.

"I was set in stone," Carter said of his plans to transfer. "I was leaving. I told myself if they didn't bring in a viable, top-notch coach, I wasn't staying, and I really didn't think Cal State would bring in a coach of his (Barnes') caliber."

Carter said he changed his mind after he researched Barnes' background and met him. And staying paid off.

"Being a part of the first winning Division I team at Cal State was a great thing," Carter said. "Now we're in the WAC and I feel like I'm part of history.

"The reason I committed here was to help Cal State start this program, to help get the prestige up, the history, the tradition. I feel I've done that."

Carter has a redshirt year remaining, if he chooses to use it. If he sat out this season, he would be able to play on CSUB's first WAC team. But that isn't going to happen.

"I graduate next spring and I want to get this done with," said Carter, a liberal studies major who said he hopes to teach and coach at the elementary school or junior high school levels.

"It would be great to play in the WAC, but I take it as being the sacrificial lamb. I was here four years transitioning (from CSUB's Division II move to Division I). Ten years from now and they're in the WAC and doing well, that's just as good as me playing in it. It's a bittersweet feeling but I'm happy."

Barnes said he appreciates Carter's dedication to the program and work ethic.

"He's a guy I've enjoyed coaching," Barnes said. "He loves to play and practices hard every day. As we continue to build the program, he is one of the guys who has been a huge foundation to our starting blocks."

Barnes said Carter has also played a role in recruiting.

"A lot of the guys we have he helped recruit. He spent time with them when they visited," Barnes said.

Carter said Barnes' philosophy has been a huge factor in CSUB's turnaround.

"He's done everything he said he would do," Carter said. "We had a winning season and he brought in great players in back-to-back years. And we're in the WAC so the program can't go anywhere but up."

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