Myles Carter needed a fresh start.
And Jim Hayford, who had just taken over the Seattle University men’s basketball team, was in desperate need of players to revamp the roster.
But the Redhawks coach had one question: Why should I trust you?
“I just told him straight up about my situation,” Carter said. “I always keep it real. No lying and none of that stuff. My perspective on life has changed.
“It’s not about just trying to be the best player that I can be, it’s about trying to be the best me that I can possibly be. I’m really just grateful and blessed that I was given this opportunity.”
Nearly two years ago, Carter “screwed up a great opportunity” – his words – at Seton Hall and was booted off the team.
On Sunday, Carter will lead his Redhawks out on the floor in hope of upsetting the Huskies, who just took No. 1 Gonzaga down to the wire in Spokane on Wednesday night
It’s one more chance for Carter to advance his personal narrative as he continues to rewrite his life.
A rough start
Carter was a three-star recruit coming out of St. Rita’s of Cascia High School in 2015.
After the Chicago native spurned his hometown DePaul and signed with the Pirates in April 2015, coach Kevin Willard raved about his abilities.
“Myles is a high-energy and talented big man with tremendous upside,” Willard said at the time. “His experience competing at a high level will serve him well on this team and competing in the Big East.”
However, the 6-foot-9 and 230-pound forward played just 14 games in two seasons before he was kicked off the team on Dec. 22, 2016 for unspecified reasons.
“Being a student-athlete here at Seton Hall is a privilege that comes with responsibilities, and unfortunately Myles was unable to meet those standards,” Willard said in a statement. “We wish Myles well and hope for all the best for him.”
Sitting in an empty gym at Redhawk Center after a recent practice, Carter talks candidly about the reasons for his dismissal.
“A mixture of things happened, but it was basically me not handling my responsibilities as a man,” he said. “My freshman year I took care of business, but then I let other things limit my potential of being what I could be.
“Certain things like not handling my business in the classroom and not meeting the expectations that coach set for me.”
Carter’s account dovetails with Willard’s comments after he was benched three weeks before leaving Seton Hall.
“Myles Carter is reintroducing himself to the classroom,” Willard reportedly said at the time.
Carter returned to Chicago and spent a month living with his mom Tracey, who dispensed some tough love.
“She was like, You are either going to get a job or you’re going to get back in school,’ ” Myles said. “She said, ‘You’re not going to be another statistic.’ ”
That’s when Myles moved to Seattle to live with his father Dr. James Carter. The Carters are divorced, but both remain involved in Myles’ life.
During a 23-year career with the Chicago Police Department that included 17 years in organized crime and undercover narcotics, James saw countless young men make mistakes early in their lives and never recover.
James, who teaches a business class part-time at the University of Washington, welcomed his then-19-year-old son into his home, but only if certain conditions were met.
“We had a lot of our conversations with me just being honest as a dad and explaining things like, here’s what I’m expecting of you,” James said. “Here’s what I better not see. And here’s what you have to do if you’re going to be here with me.
“You’re either going to have to go to school or you’re going to work. And I would prefer that you not work.”
James pushed Myles to find a new basketball home, but first Myles needed to reclaim his love for the sport. So he dragged his dad to a nearby LA Fitness, where he became a regular in pickup games.
“I didn’t know where life would take me next,” Myles said. “I was thinking, ‘Man is this the end? Is this it? I got kicked out of school.’ Just saying that, wow. I embarrassed my mom and my dad.
“But looking back on it now, that was probably the biggest blessing in my life. … After the Seton Hall situation, I put basketball out of my mind. For a minute, I did lose my love for the game. But once I got that back, I knew there would be nothing that would be able to stop me.”
Frequent conversations with former Seattle U assistant Ryan Madry led Carter to Hayford who asked a question that made the once-promising big man take responsibility for his mistakes.
“Why should I trust you?” the SU coach said.
“I had to realize that everybody goes through hard times,” Carter said. “I’m no different and I’m no more special than anybody else. But not everybody handles it like I did. … Anything bad that’s happened in my life has been because I haven’t taken care of what I needed to take care.
“That was part of the process of really just facing things head on and looking myself in the mirror and saying, ‘You’re really (messing) up. What are we doing here, Myles?’ You actually have to talk to yourself. It seems crazy, but you have to. It’s like having that voice in the back of your head.”
Carter received a second chance at Seattle U and sat out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer rules. However, he tormented a 20-win Redhawks team in practice.
“I’m going 115 mph in summer workouts,” he said laughing. “I could tell some of the other guys were going through the motions, but I was trying to show coach and show everybody that you did not waste your time taking me in. That I’m really going to work for my playing time. That I’m going to work for everything.
“I don’t want nothing given to me for any past accolades or because he went to Seton Hall. Forget any of that. That Myles Cater isn’t me. I wanted to earn everything.”
After a 1½ years out of basketball, Carter played his first home game at Seattle U on Nov. 11 against Puget Sound. With his mother in the stands, he finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks to lead the Redhawks to a 95-67 victory.
“That made my year, seeing her at the game,” Carter said. “Words can’t describe how much she means to my life and how I’ve come this far. I’d be nowhere without her. My mom is the reason I am who I am today.
“The best advice she ever gave me is to just believe in myself and to be myself. And that’s what I do.”
Carter, a defensive-minded post player with size and explosive athleticism, is unlike most anyone who has played basketball at Seattle U.
“The WAC typically doesn’t get guys like Myles,” Hayford said. “That’s just being honest. Guys of his caliber land in the WAC when things didn’t go the way they wanted somewhere else.
“But the thing I love about Myles is that he’s put the team and his teammates before himself. He’s been a leader. … Myles is making the most of this opportunity and that’s really neat to see.”
With Carter starting 10 games and anchoring the middle of the defense, Seattle U is 8-2 and off to its best start as a Division I team since the 1968-69 season. (Between 1980-2008 SU dropped its D-I status.)
Carter leads the Redhawks with 8.2 rebounds and 32 blocks while averaging 14.7 points, which is second on the team.
He’s shooting 61.2 percent from the field and admits he needs to work on his 50 percent free throw shooting percentage, especially considering he’s attempted a team-high 52 shots at the line.
“I don’t need to score 20 points for us to win,” Carter said. “If I’m blocking shots, rebounding, dishing it out, getting a hook shot here, getting a dunk there, then I’m doing my job. We’ve got so many guys on this team that can score.
“That’s what’s beautiful about the way we play. I don’t care about how many points I get. But I do care about how many rebounds I get or how many blocks I get.”
Carter’s production with the Redhawks dwarfs his two seasons at Seton Hall where he totaled nine points and 13 rebounds.
But the rising Seattle U star holds no regrets about his time with the Pirates.
“That had to happen,” said Carter, a junior communications major who dabbles in art, music and fashion. “God had a plan for everything. I think his plan for me was to go through those tough years. I had issues battling my own demons that I had to overcome.
“If I had maybe gotten away with the stuff I was doing at Seton Hall, I’d still be that same person. So that had to happen. Getting kicked out of school was an epiphany. I needed to go through that. Living alone for the first time and not getting it right the first time. Now I’m ready to pay my own bills and go through whatever I’m going to go through.
At home games, James is a fixture in the front row seats behind the SU bench. He sits close enough to not miss any of the action, but keeps a respectful distance.
“The days of me giving him basketball advice ended years ago,” James said. “I enjoy sitting back and watching him play.
“I remember when he started in the 6th and 7th grade, so to see where he is today is really heartwarming.”