Paul Carter Leaving Minnesota

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By Mike Gallagher

Gophers Basketball junior forward Paul Carter is leaving the University of Minnesota to move closer to his family, the University announced earlier today.

Carter had to deal with the burden of knowing the entire year that his sister, 14 year-old Bria, has a rare from of brain cancer.  As a sign of their support for Bria and Paul, everyone on the team shaved their heads at the beginning of the Big Ten season.

“I think that got guys closer to each other,” senior forward Damian Johnson said in an interview with the Minnesota Daily. “Paul was very happy about that; he was surprised that we all did it.”

Carter was one of the key bench players for the Gophers this season as well as last season, with his averages hovering around six points and four rebounds over his career with the Gophers.  His 4.5 rebounds/game in the 2008-09 season was the highest on the team.

The loss of Carter hurts the Gophers in a big way next year, as they will be left severely thin at the forward position.

With Damian Johnson graduating and Royce White assumedly out of the picture, the Gophers only starting caliber forward on the team is the law-troubled Trevor Mbakwe.

To make matters worse, the Gophers aren’t targeting any top level forwards in their recruiting class.  The top two recruits on their list, highly touted combo guard Cory Joseph and center Maurice Walker, would round out the scholarships the Gophers have to offer with guard Austin Hollins and center Elliot Eliason already signed.

The Gophers have shown late interest in PF Dwight McCombs, a current sophomore at Moraine Valley Community College, who led the NJCAA Division II ranks in blocks, was third in field goal percentage and rebounding, and 11th in scoring.   But the thought that a NJCAA Division II transfer could step right into a starting role on a Big Ten team is ludicrous.  On top of that, he is also attracting offers from Arizona State and Arkansas among others, which may not bode well for the Gophers chances, and only grades out as a 40 on ESPN.com’s recruiting evaluation.

Paul Carter was looking vitally important to the evolution of this team, and now the team must rely on Trevor Mbakwe stepping into a starting role after being out of competitive basketball for an entire season and away from the Division I game for nearly three years.

If he is not ready, the Gophers would have to get creative.  Perhaps if they were to wrangle Cory Joseph to Minnesota, the lineup would call for Blake Hoffarber to play the three with either Sampson and Iverson starting at the four and the five or the Gophers starting Walker and having Iverson come off the bench should Walker choose Minnesota.

There are still a lot of question marks, and thankfully Tubby Smith has plenty of time to answer them.  But Paul Carter’s presence would’ve been extremely helpful to this team and could’ve possibly taken away a few of those question marks.  But Smith and everyone involved knew Carter made the right decision facing a tough situation.

“We appreciate everything that Paul contributed to this program in his two seasons in Minneapolis,” Smith said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. “Our thoughts are with him and his family as his sister Bria continues her battle with cancer. We wish Paul the very best.”

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Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    I thought it was somewhat heroic how the Gophs made the tourney this year, and I wanted to look at them as a program generally on the rise, but this is a big loss, and with Royce White flaking out too- they’ve lost some quality players

  2. To say Mo Walker would start as a Freshman is a little out of line really. Mo is simply a tag along to Cory Joseph. I am sure if there was no Cory Joseph in the picture Tubby would be trying to land a wing to replace Carter. With Mbwake future still up in the air I think you have to plan on starting Iverson and Ralph together, with the 2 new big bodied freshman competing for playing time off the bench. If Ralph improves lateral quickness he can become a real legitimate 4 men that would give lots of troubles to opposing Power Forwards in the Big Ten.

    Sample Lineup with Cory and Mo (no Mbwake)

    Cory Joseph/Al Nolen/ Cobbs
    Devoe Joseph/Austin Hollins
    Blake Hoffarber/Rodney Williams
    Ralph Sampson/Elliot Elliason/Dominique Dawkins
    Colton Iverson/Maurice Walker

    Maybes: Trevor Mbwake and Royce White

    I think with this you would see a lot of 4 guard lineups with alot of full court press using the defensive abilities of Al Nolen and Cory Joseph together.

  3. kudos to paul carter for having his priorities straight… the gophs will figure something out, i’m sure… at least it’s not another bad boy messing up his life & those around him…

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