Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Carter Was Always Up for a Challenge

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Carter Was Always Up for a Challenge

Article excerpt

The foreboding brick walls rose high above the street, topped with a crown of coiled, barbed wire.

Gary Carter's uncle was locked away inside, confined in a bare, 5- by-7 cell behind steel bars. Time has worn away many of the details of his visits to Trenton State Prison some 30 years ago. Others he failed to notice amid the college student's eagerness to see his uncle, middleweight boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.

But Carter won't forget the feeling of menace the prison aroused.

"It was intimidating," he said. "It was unbelievable."

But Carter would not be cowed when meeting with his cause celebre relative before his murder conviction was overturned in 1985.

And when he showed up at Monmouth College in 1979, only to discover he was the last man selected to the basketball roster, he also remained undeterred.

The point guard grew up in Paterson. He attended Eastside High School and graduated three years before Joe Clark's campaign to clean up "'a caldron of terror and violence." Carter had watched his uncle's long fight for justice.

Proving himself on the basketball court was just another challenge. And the Clifton resident proved himself enough to be inducted earlier this month into the Monmouth University Hall of Fame.

"I was the last recruit," Carter said. "I probably wasn't expected to make the team."

Instead Carter, 53, graduated as the third-highest scorer in program history with 1,643 points -- before the three-pointer was instituted. He now ranks fifth.

The 1981 Metropolitan Player of the Year led the Division II program to a top-five ranking that season. The three-time, first- team All-Big Apple Conference selection was chosen the 1983 conference player of the year.

"I had a deadly jump shot," Carter said.

But his work ethic was his greatest weapon. It included launching 500 jump shots a day in the summer.

"He was probably the best point guard I've ever coached," said former Monmouth coach Ron Kornegay.

The 6-foot, 160-pound Carter made quite a first impression. Kornegay attended an Eastside game to scout another player. Then he saw Carter.

The coach suddenly found a new target -- a player who could push the ball hard off the dribble, "pull up on a dime and bang it in with a very good jumper. …

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