The name Jaycee Carroll is not an unknown name in Cache Valley. His career as a Utah State basketball player was spent breaking records, earning awards and helping the Aggies to two consecutive NCAA Tournaments and four-straight postseason appearances.
Carroll earned honorable mention All-American honors after his junior season, setting him up for more success as a senior. He passed Greg Grant as the all-time leading scorer at Utah State with his first shot in a game against Idaho in January 2008. By the end of that year, he had 2,507 career points, just 35 points shy of being the all-time leading scorer in the state of Utah.
Carroll started his professional career playing in Italy before moving to Spain and the Asociación de Clubs de Baloncesto where he spent two seasons playing for Gran Canaria. He spent the 2011-12 season with Real Madrid, where he is contracted for two more seasons. In his first season in Madrid, Carroll shot 54.7 percent from the field (87-159), 40.4 percent from the three-point line (55-136) and 86.0 percent from the charity stripe (49-57), while averaging 12.0 points per game.
Back in Logan for the summer, Carroll took a few minutes to talk about his season, as well as his future.
Give us a quick recap on this last season. “I started out with a new team, Real Madrid. Because of the lockout, we had two NBA players join our team - Serge Ibaka from Oklahoma City and Rudy Fernandez, who played for the Denver Nuggets last year. It was fun to have them around and play with them, then when the lockout was over they left.
“This past year, I had the chance to play in the Euroleague for the first time. We got to play in Milan, Serbia, Vienna - just a bunch of places all over Europe. It was a really great experience. We made it to the top 16 there, which was good. There were times we could have done better, but it was a good season.
“The biggest highlight of the year was in the middle of the season. Every year, the top eight teams play in the King’s Cup. We won that, beating Barcelona in the championship. In that game, I scored 22 points in 20 minutes. It was the first King’s Cup Madrid had won in 19 years.
“As the season continued, my team finished second in the league, so we entered the playoffs as the second seed. In the first round, we swept Civica in a three-game series. In the second round, we played Caja Laboral from Victoria, Spain, and we beat them in a best of five series, in game five, to go to the championship. We started the championship playing at Barcelona where we led the entire game and with two seconds left, we were up by two and they threw up a half-court shot and made it. We won the next game by four and went back to Madrid for game three. We absolutely killed them there, winning by 26 points and getting up 2-1 in the series. They won game four and we headed back to Barcelona where we all played a tight game, but they ended up winning the championship by four points.
“I led our team in scoring. I finished as runner-up for top shooting guard in our league and had a successful season.”
Rumor is you’ll be playing with a couple of NBA teams this summer. Care to elaborate on that? “The truth is, I had opportunities to play with some NBA teams in the summer league, but I am currently on contract with Real Madrid for two more years. I decided to bypass all the summer league stuff this year and just enjoy my summer.”
Any big plans for the summer then? “We’re just hanging out. It’s mine and Baylee’s fifth anniversary, so at the end of July we’re going on a cruise to the Caribbean. Other than that we’ll just spend our time between hanging out with each of our families.
“I head back to Spain on Aug. 21. I also received dual citizenship this last year, so I’m also a citizen of Azerbaijan, which is on the northern border of Iran. I’ll go there Aug. 5 to play with their national team in a pre-qualifying tournament.”
What are some things you learned from Stew Morrill and the staff here that have been applicable in your professional career? “I learned dedication to the game, dedicating your time and energy to doing things completely and correctly. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do things, so it’s important to develop good habits. I developed toughness from being around Coach Morrill and his staff. There’s a defensive toughness that they instill in their players.”
What was the biggest change from playing college basketball to playing professionally? “The biggest change was just the geography. Playing a long way from home, you start out virtually unknown. At Utah State people knew who I was. Luckily in Spain, the basketball style isn’t that much different. I do have more of an opportunity to have the ball in my hand and make plays. The competition and athleticism is just that much higher at this level, so that’s different. But overall, basketball is basketball. In Italy there was a bit of a language barrier, but in Spain that doesn’t exist. I already knew Spanish, so that helped.”
What has been your favorite part about living and playing overseas? “My favorite part is the opportunity to see the world. I haven’t counted lately, but last time I counted I’ve been to between 18 and 25 different countries. I’ve seen different cultures, different personalities, different lifestyles, and that’s something that’s very interesting.
“It’s fun having my little family over there. We’re all we have over there, so we have to come together and look out for each other without our friends and family. It’s also nice to just play basketball and not have to worry about doing homework and stuff on top of that.”
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What has been the impact of having two kids rather than just one? “Our hands are definitely a lot more full. Bella’s getting big; she’s at the age where she can walk and talk and ask questions and tell you things. That’s been a lot of fun. Alba has been walking for the past couple months and starting to talk a little bit. Everything she does is just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, and I can’t help but get a huge smile on my face every time I look at her.”
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.