HOUSTON (BP)--Baylor senior guard Tweety Carter followed God's call to Baylor in one of the university's darkest hours and saw the basketball program rebound nearly to the Final Four.
The 5-11 senior point guard was the first high school All-American to sign with coach Scott Drew in 2005, out of tiny Reserve, La., just two years after a Baylor player murdered a teammate in 2003. Drew accepted the Baylor job despite the scandal and various NCAA penalties.
"God told me to go here," Carter said. "He told me where to be, and God didn't send me here to quit."
In the Elite Eight, Carter scored 14 points in the Bears' convincing 72-49 blowout of St. Mary's while adding three rebounds with no turnovers. But on Sunday, March 28, Carter and his teammates lost their bid for the Final Four, falling to storied basketball power Duke, 78-71, at Houston's Relient Stadium in the NCAA South Regional.
"It's a blessing to be here and be part of this," Carter said before the tipoff against Duke, "but I come here for a purpose -– for His purpose, and I came here with an open heart and an open life."
Carter was the all-time leading high school scorer in U.S. history with more than 7,000 points in his prep career, which began in the seventh grade, and he was named to the prestigious McDonald's All-America team.
When it came time to choose a college, Carter could have stayed home and played with LSU but chose to commit to Baylor at the start of his junior year.
"I want to do what was special and God is a part of all the decisions I make in my life," Carter said. "The visit I had [at Baylor] was so positive with all the players and Coach Drew. I knew this is where I wanted to be. I never made another visit, just hung on to Baylor."
It wasn't always an easy road as Baylor slowly rebuilt under Drew after one of the worst scandals in recent college history.
As a sophomore, Carter was part of the team that made its first NCAA appearance in 20 years and last year Baylor made it to the NIT Tournament finals in New York City.
As Carter has matured as a person and a player, he said he sees God's hand in his decision to come to Baylor four years ago at its low ebb.
"Those were all stepping stones in my life," Carter said of the opportunity to restore the Baylor program. "God has now put us in a big position and we know we have to honor Him."
While Carter may have played his final game of organized basketball, freshmen A.J. Walton is slated to replace him as the Bears' starting point guard next season.
Walton, like Carter, has appreciated the spiritual atmosphere on Baylor's basketball squad.
"I learned when I came here prayer is important to our coaches and our players," Walton said. "We don't leave the locker room without praying before a game. We don't finish a game without praying. We want to please Him in all that we do."
Both Walton and Carter said having a Christian head coach like Scott Drew has been pivotal.
"It really helps when your coach is a Christian man," Walton said. "You feel like he has your back in every situation."
"Our whole coaching staff is bold for Christ," Carter added. "No matter how we play, that is always going to be the most important thing."
Art Stricklin is a Dallas-based sports correspondent for Baptist Press.
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