DAYTONA BEACH — Students from Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School’s basketball teams arrived in Daytona Beach on Jan. 17 to watch Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s all-time leader in assists and steals, but they wanted to see something else from DeForest Carter.
“One of the kids said you’ve got to dunk,” Carter said.
Just before time expired in the first half, Carter fulfilled the youngster’s request with a steal and a dunk as part of another all-around solid performance from the senior point guard from the Big Cypress Reservation. Carter finished with 11 points, five steals and four assists as Embry-Riddle improved to 17-0 with a 96-71 win against Webber International.
Communication on the court by Embry-Riddle, the second-ranked team in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), left a lasting impression on the PECS players.
“If we keep on pushing, we’ll be there one day,” Vivianna Gore, 14, said. “We’re going to try to communicate more.”
Before the game, Carter met with the PECS players and coaches, including girls coach Tim Thomas.
“When I played on the rez, he was a big help,” Carter said.
Thomas was among Carter’s coaches in youth and travel basketball. Carter recalled a game when he forgot to bring his sneakers and ended up finding success while wearing Thomas’ sneakers.
“I had a good game,” Carter said.
Carter has produced plenty of good games during his four years at Embry-Riddle. This season he entered late January as the team’s leader in assists, blocks and steals while averaging 12.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Carter, 21, said he talked to the kids about life in college as a student-athlete. As a youngster, Carter said he looked up to certain people and, at that time, knew he wanted someday to be a positive influence for others.
“I always wanted to be that person who inspires someone,” he said. “They came and supported me. I gave them high fives on the way out of the tunnel.”
Accolades for Carter came before the game when Embry-Riddle honored him for breaking the career marks in assists and steals. Both feats were achieved in the same game, a 65-51 win against Ashford (Iowa) in the championship game of the Bahama House & Best Western Aku Tiki Shootout Jan. 3 at home. Carter didn’t plan on achieving two milestones in one night, but he was glad it worked out that way.
“It was awesome that I could do both in the same game,” he said.
Carter’s record-breaking 661st career assist came in the first half as he snapped the previous mark that had been held by Ryan Rothrock since 2002.
Carter met Rothrock awhile back and still adheres to the advice he received from the guard who played on the school’s national championship team in 2000.
“He told me to keep working and not take anything for granted,” Carter said.
In the second half, Carter notched his 287th career steal, which moved him past Tom Fagley as the team’s all-time leader. Fagley’s record stood for 20 years.
Carter finished the game with 12 points, six assists, four steals and four rebounds and was named to the Shootout’s all-tournament team.
Although both records mean a lot to him, Carter said the assists mark carries greater significance because of the teamwork involved in attaining it.
“I want the assist record to go the whole team. It takes more than one person for an assist,” he said.
In December, Carter knew his numbers were approaching the top of the categories, but his mother, Myra Jumper, made sure he didn’t focus on the record books.
“I told my mom a few games before (the Ashford game) that I was close,” he said. “She set me straight and said just play your game.”
Tribune staff reporter Beverly Bidney contributed to this article.