All the fans are gone, the television cameras are packed up and the lights inside Alaska Airlines Arena have gone dim. For those who’ve already gone home, they’re about to miss the real show.
Michael Carter III may launch 100 shots. Or 200. It all depends on the day. Carter, after every Washington home game, steps back onto the court and shoots until he meets his daily goal of 500 attempts. The number itself is high. So are the amount of people on Twitter who’ve made a point of watching Carter shoot. More than 12,000 people have watched the three videos a reporter filmed and then tweeted of Carter shooting in an empty Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
“Yeah, that surprises me that many people are watching the videos and keeping up with what I’m doing,” Carter said. “I don’t know how else to take it in.”
Carter, a freshman point guard, does not shoot to get famous or draw attention.
He shoots out of fear.
The end goal for Carter, as is the case for many college basketball players, is to reach the NBA. Carter and his father, Michael II, would wake up early when he was attending O’Dea High School in Seattle so he could shoot before class.
Carter’s fear doesn’t come from missing one or two shots. It comes from what happens if he doesn’t shoot a basketball.
“I’m not going to lie. It’s fear. Fear of not being successful,” Carter said. “It’s going to jail. Being in the wrong situation, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I just don’t want to be one of those guys someone writes a story talking about ‘A basketball player from Washington — Michael Carter — winds up in jail’ or shot or something like that.
“Fear of the outside is what keeps me in (the gym).”
The elder Carter told The News Tribune his son is not into parties and he’s actually pretty low maintenance.
Michael II said when his son was younger, they would go to parks and shoot around. As he got older and his talent level increased, the need to find a gym was paramount.
Eventually, they asked O’Dea basketball coach Jason Kerr if it was possible to use the gym before school started.
“One of the janitors was there and he’d let us in. We’d shoot early in the morning,” Michael II said. “If his shot was off, the only time we’d have to work on it was early in the morning before school. That’s where it started.”
As a senior, the 6-foot-4 Carter averaged 17 points and led the Fighting Irish to the Class 3A state title game in 2016.
He spent the 2016-17 season with the Elite Sports Academy located in Issaquah.
Carter wasn’t rated by any of the major recruiting services and he was originally committed to San Francisco.
That changed when first-year Huskies coach Mike Hopkins arrived and Carter became his first commitment for the 2017 class.
So far, his first season at UW has been bumpy. Carter missed almost eight weeks with a fractured hand. He’s played seven games and registered minutes in the Huskies’ three most recent Pac-12 games.
Lost in UW’s 70-62 defeat to Utah on Friday was Carter scoring a career-best nine points in 19 minutes.
“I just want to be better and be more prepared in the games,” said Carter, who provided another reason for his extra work. “When we first started practicing, my shot wasn’t consistent in practice. Now, I shoot whenever I can, whenever I don’t have homework.”
Carter and his dad are clear about grades and school coming first. After that, it’s goes back to getting up a ton of shots.
“Even when his hand was messed up, I told him he still has to shoot,” Michael II said. “I told him to shoot what he could. At least 100 or 200 shots. There are times you will catch him shooting at the gym.”
His friends know this, too.
Anyone who wants to hang out with Carter understands they could spend a lot of time in the gym.
That includes Sierra Cole, who is Carter’s girlfriend. She comes to games and will either work out with him by passing the ball or she’ll sit from the sidelines and watch him shoot.
Carter said there are times when he and Cole, who plays at Bellevue College, will shoot before going out on a date.
“After games, that’s most likely our date night,” Carter said. “I’ll shoot and then we’ll go The Ram or something in (University) Village. On the weekends, we try to see each other and get some shots up before going to the movies.
“Just whenever we can, we’ll find a little free time, shoot and the hang out.”