By Nate Sanchez
Senior Staff Writer
Stephon Carter came to CSUB as a freshman in 2009 as a heavily recruited basketball player out of Garces High School. Since his first year as a ’Runner, Carter’s exploits on the court can’t be overstated. As the all-time scoring leader in CSUB history, Carter has proven himself an important asset to the team’s offense.
Carter’s passion for basketball stems from his early childhood, where he learned to love the game from his older brother, Steve. “When I was young, about five or six, he was playing basketball,” Carter said. “I was just trying to be like my big brother. My brother influenced me to play basketball from an early age. Seeing him play really motivated me to go outside and play ball just like him.”
Having turned down offers from the likes of Arizona State, Nevada, San Diego State, Fresno State and other schools around California, the 6’3”, 180-lb guard chose to stay in his hometown to be with his family in the midst of the tragic loss of Carter’s older brother. “Out of high school, I was recruited by almost every school in the state,” Carter said.
Carter brought a loaded résumé to the ’Runners, who had only two years earlier entered Division I play. In his time at Garces, Carter was named to three consecutive Bakersfield Californian All-Area Player of the Year awards. In 26 games played as a senior at Garces, Carter scored in double figures in all of them.
Carter’s come a long way since then. His first game wearing the blue and gold was a home loss to Santa Clara in which he scored 16 points in 2009. On Feb. 9, 2013, Carter made school history by surpassing Kenny Warren’s longstanding record of 1,521 points scored. Now with 1,610 points, Carter stands alone atop the scoring mountain, looking to continue his dominance in his final two games as a ’Runner.
“It feels good to have the record, but it’s not that big a deal,” Carter said. “Our mindset is to win. That doesn’t matter to us. We still have to win.”
Arguably the most difficult part of Carter’s career as a ’Runner has been juggling school and work. Most know that the life of a student athlete is difficult, but few can handle the stress of traveling, practicing, and performing to meet academic standards to remain eligible to play.
“It’s difficult being a student athlete,” Carter said. “You see us on the court, you see us play and you’d think we’re just athletes, but it’s tough. It’s a grind. We still do all the work that we miss. We’re on the road doing homework and essays without teachers input, just instructions.”
Despite his absence next year, Carter has tremendous faith in his teammates in continuing to excel.
“They’re gonna be good next year,” Carter said. “I think they’ll have one of the best teams in the conference next year. A lot of guys are coming back from injuries and we’ve got a lot of guys coming back.”
Carter’s success hasn’t come without help from his teammates and coaching staff, as he’ll openly acknowledge. Closeness with his teammates has given the team excellent chemistry, a key aspect of any winning team. Head coach Rod Barnes has also played an important role in Carter’s development as both a player and a man.
“He’s like a father figure to all of us,” Carter said. “He’s hard on us, but it’s for the better, to make us into better people. He leads us on the court to victory, and off the court to be great men.” “I want to be remembered here as someone who worked hard,” Carter said of the legacy he will leave behind. “I’m just a humble guy trying to help his city out.”
So what’s next for Stephon Carter?
For him, it’s all about remaining a part of the game.
“I’m trying to graduate this spring and get my degree,” Carter said. “I’ll get some workouts in and try out for the NBA. If that works out; great. But I’ll go oversees and play basketball.”
Equipped with a degree in liberal arts, Carter’s goal is to someday teach and coach the game he loves. With a strong connection to CSUB and a dedicated fanbase, Carter would one day like to “come back here to be an old guy, teaching and coaching.”
“If they give me the opportunity, I wouldn’t mind coaching here at all,” Carter said.