Jevon Carter Meets The Media In Memphis
Barely 17 hours after hearing his name called in the NBA Draft, Jevon Carter was seated at a podium at the FedExForum in Memphis, answering questions from the assembled media members about his future with Grizzlies.
Carter was the second pick of the second round of the NBA Draft, the 32nd overall selection. The No. 4 pick of the entire draft, former Michigan State forward Jaren Jackson, Jr., was beside Carter Friday afternoon in Memphis, as the two players both were selected in Thursday night’s draft by the Grizz.
“Jaren and Jevon were the premier defensive players in the draft at their respective positions,” said Memphis general manager Chris Wallace, a native of Buckhannon, W.Va., who has been the G.M. of the Grizzlies for the past 11 years. “Both are big winners from tough, defensive-minded programs run by some of the best coaches in the country in Tom Izzo and Bob Huggins. Jaren and Jevon are great, hard-working young men from great families who we look forward to getting to know better.
“And while Jaren and Jevon are both known as outstanding defensive players, we also feel they have great offensive potential,” added Wallace. “We feel they can deliver in the short term as well as be our bridges to the future.”
Carter, who averaged 17.3 points a game this year, was also second in the NCAA in steals this past season with 3.03 per game. Jackson, who was a 6-foot-11 freshman at Michigan State in the 2017-18 campaign, was seventh in Division I in blocked shots with 3.03 per game. The 18-year-old, who won’t turn 20 for 15 more months, also averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds a game in his one-and-done season with the Spartans.
“With Jevon, the first thing you see is the tenacity he plays with,” said Memphis head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who has spent one season with the Grizzlies. “Whenever he’s on the floor, he stands out. Even when he played against gifted offensive players, he stood out with his effort. It was easy to see why his coaches loved him. Shots going in or shots not going in, he still impacts the game.”
Carter, the two-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, became just the fourth Mountaineer drafted by the NBA since Bob Huggins took over as WVU’s coach 11 years ago. Joe Alexander is the highest draft pick from West Virginia in that time, going with the No. 8 selection in the first round to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2008. Da’Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks each were second round picks in 2010, going with the 42nd overall pick and the 43rd overall pick respectively to the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers. Before Alexander, no Mountaineer had been selected in the two-round NBA draft since 1997 when Gordon Malone went in the second round with the 44th overall pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Only eight former WVU players have ever been drafted higher than Carter’s No. 32 position.
“My first reaction (on being picked by Memphis), I was excited, happy, blessed,” explained Carter. “It didn’t seem real. I’m proud to be a Memphis Grizzly. It’s been my dream to play in the NBA. For this organization to believe in me and give me that chance, I’m going to do my best and give them my all. I’m going to come in here and be tough and give it everything I have. That’s the mentality I’m going to bring here.”
Carter finished his Mountaineer career with his name all over the West Virginia record book. He is first in school history in career steals (330), second in career assists (559), third in career games played (144), third in career minutes played (4,299), fourth in career three-point field goals made (241), eighth in career points scored (1,758) and 18th in career free throw percentage (79.77 percent).
Now he moves on to a pro career.
“For me, Memphis was at the top of my radar,” stated Carter. “I felt this would be a good place for me. They piggyback off the defensive style we had at West Virginia with the grit and the toughness.
“I feel like it couldn’t be a more perfect fit for me,” he added. “The coaches have told me, ‘Don’t change. Be true to yourself.’ If I do that, I’ll be fine.”
Jackson and Carter join a Memphis club that had earned a berth in the NBA playoffs for seven straight seasons (2011-17), but stumbled to a 22-60 mark this past year, as injuries ate away the core of the club.
“We’re defensive guys, and this is a defensive-minded program,” said Carter of he and Jackson, whose father, Jaren Jackson, Sr., was a guard at Georgetown before going on to a 12-year NBA career. “We’re going to come in here and do our best. We’re going to be ready when the time presents itself. I’m looking to help out any way I can, no matter what it is.”
A native of Maywood, Ill., Carter came to WVU in the summer of 2014 as a lightly recruited player.
And he leaves four years later as an NBA Draft choice.