Even at 'next level,' Carter still reps Mountaineer Nation

Mar 04, 2019 | by Nick Farrell, West Virginia Illustrated

CLEVELAND, Ohio - When Jevon Carter played at WVU, he was a star.

Now, the former Mountaineer great, who has branded himself on social media as “next level,” is in the midst of his rookie season with the Memphis Grizzlies. It’s a new opportunity — challenging and rewarding — to play the game he loves at the highest level. 

“I’m just taking it day by day, learning as much as I can from guards like Mike Conely, Avery Bradley and just doing whatever I can to help,” Carter said.  

The Grizzlies selected Carter with the No. 32 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. After a short stint with the Memphis Hustle of the G-League, Carter has appeared 26 times for the Grizzlies and averages 15 minutes per game. 

His minutes with the Grizz are limited at times as he backs up Conley, a 12-year veteran with the franchise. 

But before Carter became a national defensive player of the year and consensus All-American, he played a similar back-up role for head coach Bob Huggins at West Virginia. 

“My freshman year, I had two senior guards in front of me. They were Juwan Staten and Gary Brown,” said Carter. “I didn’t have a lot of ball responsibility when i was in the game, so i was able to play on the wing, get a feel for the game and see how the game is going. Let the ball come to me, shoot it when it’s open and play defense.” 

Carter said his first season with Memphis has put him in a position that's both familiar and foreign. 

“It’s kind of just like starting all over again,” Carter said. “I gotta get readjusted to the game, how the league is, the calls, the play style, just getting a feel for it.” 

Carter made a habit of getting better and better through his four seasons at WVU, to the point where he set one of college basketball’s most unique records. He capped his career by becoming the first player from a major conference to record 1,500 points, 500 assists, 500 rebounds and 300 steals.

His progression in college is what grabbed the attention of the Grizzlies’ staff, including general manager and West Virginia native Chris Wallace. 

“Jevon didn’t come in as a heralded one-and-done type of guy that the whole league is looking at at that point. He had to grow on the NBA, and grow he did,” said Wallace in an interview last summer. “You have to look at the results. This guy was extremely productive — not just on the defensive end, but also the offensive end — for a team I really believe, looking back on the whole [2017-18] basketball season, was a top-10 team.” 

It didn’t take long for his patented defensive tenacity to impress Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. 

“Jevon has had moments with us where he has helped turn games around,” Bickerstaff said. “Defensively, the pressure he can put on the ball is very unique. The energy that he brings from that end of the floor, it can be game changing.” 

Bickerstaff is now Carter’s coach, Bob Huggins no longer is, but Carter and Huggins still chat about basketball often. When JC returned to Morgantown during the NBA All-Star Break, he made a $27,000 donation to the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Endowment Fund, generated through the sales of his “Treadmill Mentality” t-shirts.

“Huggs, he’s helped me so much over the last four years,” Carter said. “I was just playing my part in doing whatever I could to help.” 

When Carter played his final game at the WVU Coliseum last February, he said he couldn’t find the words to describe what being a Mountaineer means to him. 

A year later, he still can’t describe it, but anytime he talks about the Mountaineers and their fans, his face lights up with a smile. 

“It’s always good to see the West Virginia fans in the crowd,” Carter said. “Just thanks for the love and support. I miss them.” 

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