LOGAN It wasn't his biggest night, not by a long shot. Long shots, incidentally, being his specialty.
It wasn't close to the 44 points Utah State guard Jaycee Carroll totaled last year against New Mexico State, or even the 32 or 30 he scored in other games. Rather, it was an unpretentious 15. The other Aggies spent the night trying to keep him from making them look foolish. Which they did.
Too bad for them Carroll had a half-dozen teammates who showed up with a good plan. Utah State fended off several NMSU comebacks to take a 74-62 win at the Spectrum Saturday.
So Carroll will have to wait until next week to break the all-time USU scoring record. He is 30 points shy of the mark. But he's not worried. He took care of the worrying months ago.
"To tell you the truth, before the year started it was a lot more overwhelming," said Carroll. "I would read things like 'he's only 387 points (390) from the record,' and in my mind I started thinking, 'What if I break my leg in the first game? What if something happens and I can't make a shot and I only score 300 points the entire season?' I was a lot more worried before the season.
Now that it's getting closer ... I'm a lot more relaxed."
Barring illness, injury or an acute case of frozen elbow, Carroll will pass Greg Grant to officially top the USU charts. Not Shaler Halimon, not Marv Roberts, Cornell Green, Brian Jackson or even the revered Wayne Estes scored more. Next stop: The Steve Kerr School of Baby-Faced Killers.
Like the former Chicago Bulls marksman, Carroll wants to make big shots, win NBA championships, and leave 'em wondering who's the smallish guy with the great rotation. The only question being this: How does a 6-foot-2 dead-eye from a modest but successful program make it in the NBA? A lot of players can shoot.
"That's a definite question I wish I understood better," said Carroll. "When I was in high school I had the same question: Why do they consider some guys such good prospects to be D-1 players and they're not considering me like I felt they should?"
Each year colleges produce great shooters. Some go on to NBA success, such as Jazz swingman Kyle Korver or Boston's Ray Allen. But others fade into oblivion.
"Like Steve Kerr or John Paxton, I feel I could step into a role, or I think an even bigger role," said Carroll. "But I've got to convince someone to give me a chance. I don't have to convince everyone, just one person."
Carroll declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft last spring but apparently didn't find the right person who believed. He withdrew his name and returned for his senior season at USU. That's not to say there aren't true believers. In Logan, he's the Mick Jagger of Aggie hoops. A regular rock star.
Saturday's subdued performance notwithstanding, Carroll's numbers remain impressive. He entered the game as the nation's only player shooting better than 50 percent from both the field and 3-point range, as well as over 90 percent from the free-throw line. His career 3-point percentage (46.3) ranks fifth in NCAA history. In December, ESPN shoutmeister Dick Vitale named him national player of the week.
"That's the very cool thing about college basketball. It's neat to have that privilege, at least for a week," Carroll said.
How the Evanston, Wyo., native, ended up in Logan is the typical story of a player everyone liked but only one team coveted. BYU showed interest but told him to give it a call when he got off his LDS mission. He visited Utah and talked with former coach Rick Majerus, but he, too, had other things going.
"Last word I got from him was, 'Don't make any decisions for two weeks. I have to go to Australia to pick up a big man,"' said Carroll.
While Majerus missed out on Carroll, the trip wasn't a total loss. He ended up landing eventual No. 1 draft pick Andrew Bogut.
The only Division I school to offer Carroll a scholarship was USU.
When that happened, "I said, 'Heck yeah, sounds great,"' said Carroll.It sounded almost Kerr-ian.
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