This is the first of hopefully many sit downs with members of the Baylor MBB team we will be doing at ODB. Our goal for these discussions is to highlight the person, the team, and their story as a way for Baylor Nation to get to know the men that make up our Men’s Basketball program. These will be very light on the X’s and O’s and quite frankly that is intentional. There is a ton of content coming from ODB that will focus on what goes on between the lines, we hope that you enjoy this as an opportunity to take a step back and learn about these incredible men as people not only players and coaches.
We start with a Baylor legend, Tweety Carter. Look we are just under a month away from the start of the Baylor MBB season, but Tweety Carter has me ready to run through a wall. I had the honor and privilege to spend a few minutes chatting with Tweety and I left wishing my Zoom license didn’t cap us at 40 minutes (I have since upgraded to Zoom Pro).
Below there is a link to the Podcast for the full discussion, but if you are strapped for time or would prefer to read the Q&A keep scrolling - we have that for you too. There isn’t a better fit for the Director of Player Development than Tweety. His love for the Lord, his family, teammates, coaches, and Baylor shines through all his answers. Without further ado, let’s dive in and get to know one of the best people to come through this program, Tweety Carter.
Link to the Pod
Q1) We have to start with a record that will never be broken, you are the all-time leader in scoring in high school basketball with over 7400 points. Tell us about your high school basketball days and when you knew being a pro hooper was in your future.
A1) “God is awesome. The 7400 points is credit to my teammates and my coach for being patient with me and having my back to go out there and score the ball. I’m gonna flip it because they made me great and let me know I had a lot of players depending on me to come with my best every single night. My high school coach Timmy Byrd held me accountable, and it just transitioned into me being that scorer. I came in early; in 6th grade I started practicing in varsity - I was out there with the big guys hoopin. Coach Timmy Byrd has been raising me since I was 7 years old and helped me feel like I belonged there. Starting in 7th grade I was always dressing out on varsity. One game we were losing to the #1 team in the state, and coach asked me if I wanted to go in in the second quarter and I told him ‘Nah I’m good, I just played JV they gotta deal with this one.’ But about 5 minutes into the second quarter he told me Tweety get in. And that game I went 4/4 and ended with a half-court shot, and from that point forward I was starting from there on out.”
Q2) Do you feel that first game was a launching point for your career as you were the first ever McDonalds All American to come to Baylor
A2) “I finished my 7th grade year averaging 15 points, and we fell just short of going to top 28 which was the state tournament. And the next year going into my 8th grade year I started getting invited to Nike camps which is weird because growing up baseball and football were my main sports. I didn’t think basketball was the out for me, I thought baseball and football were because my dad and my uncles played baseball and got drafted out of high school. So, when I went to my first Nike camp, Jamboree, the top 25 players got invited to an All American Camp, and when I got that All American Camp invite I realized I had a bright future in basketball. At that point I stopped everything, and basketball became a priority. That’s when I started playing AAU in Shreveport with coach Mike Theus and I played with Louisiana Select. During that time, I realized I belong on the basketball court. I didn’t know when that real breakthrough point would happen, but it was my 8th grade year. I averaged 23 points, and we won state and I got state MVP. But through that I can’t say enough about my teammates they sacrificed a lot to make sure I had everything I needed on the floor. They were the best upperclassmen I could’ve had on my team, when coach started me they immediately started thinking about how they could support me.”
Q3) You mentioned baseball and football were your out, when you stopped playing baseball and football when did the love for basketball happen, or was it always there?
A3) “I had a love for it because it was competing. From a young age one of my friends hit a halfcourt shot when we were about 6 years old and I saw all the love he was getting and I was like ‘I want that’. He and I were actually on the same team together so it came full circle with me hitting a halfcourt shot in my first game we got to share that moment together. The love just continued to grow as I was picking up that basketball.”
Q4) What made you choose Baylor and what is your favorite Coach Drew recruiting story, and what was the tipping point when you decided to go to Baylor?
A4) “His energy. His energy was always there from day one. Him and the coaching staff made me believe that I was a Baylor basketball player. They made me feel that I belonged at Baylor and needed to come to Baylor. I was getting recruited by a bunch of other schools but the feel at those other schools was just that I was any other player. But Coach Drew and the coaching staff not only checked on me about basketball. My family was important to them, my faith was important to them, and they were consistent with what they were saying. They promised me that they weren’t going to recruit over me. This was huge for me because at this point I was going into 9th grade; so at an early age I had the feeling that I belonged playing for this coach. Coach Drew reminded me of my high school Coach Timmy Byrd who like I said has been taking care of me since I was 6 or 7, this was huge for me. Just the energy level that the Baylor staff gave me and the love and respect they gave my family, I couldn’t look past that. They would never check a box on a player involving recruiting. They always follow through to the end. Now that I am in the office and I see it, it is such a blessing because it wasn’t fake 20 years ago and it isn’t fake today. It is real.”
Q5) You really burst onto the scene as a junior and then erupted your senior year including a run to the Elite 8, which at the time was the farthest a Baylor MBB team had gone in the tournament. Can you share some of the best memories of that season and tournament run?
A5) “The passion we had for each other. Even before that season started. There were many long conversations about how we need to be. And I mean that among the players first. Players like Ekpe Udoh, myself, Lace Dunn, Quincy Acy, I mean I can go down the list, Ant Jones, Fred Ellis, Mamadou; my freshman year Tim Bush, Aaron Bruce, Henry Dugat, Kevin Rogers, Curtis Jerrels, all of those guys and more played a major role in where we are today. None of those guys looked at me and said ‘Oh he’s the first McDonalds All American lets not take care of him.’ They made sure I had everything I needed, like going to the store or anything. It was a family right away. And with families you have many ups and downs. My first three years I saw many ups and downs, we fought we worked everyday. And then my senior year seeing a guy like Ekpe committing he saw the hard work we were putting in and he wanted to be a part of it.
The Senior season didn’t start ‘well’ in many people’s eyes. We went to our tournament in Florida, we lose to Alabama and then we won in double overtime against Iona. After those two games we all realized that we couldn’t do it by ourselves. We realized we had to be ‘All In’ and a lot of people don’t realize that’s where the ‘All In’ came about. Guys up and down the roster, guys like A.J. Walton coming in off the bench being our defensive guy, being our high energy guy. Josh Lomers being a bull down low. All of those things led us to having that senior year. We didn’t lose one game by more than 7 points. We had a chance to go undefeated with that group of guys meant the world to me. Everything from the start of the season to the end of the season mattered to us. It showed our ‘All In’ how we cared for each other. The holding each other accountable, the energy after losses, everything was family. Anyone could tell anyone anything, and all of those moments led to us having that successful year. That led to us making history. History doesn’t start when its over, it starts before.”
Q6) What was it like playing overseas and how do you feel that time grew you as a player and as a man? And did Baylor Nation and the coaches walk through that with you?
A6) “I still was in touch with everyone. Every summer I came back to Waco. Anytime Coach Drew needed me I was here. Anytime I was overseas the coaches would call and check on all the players. Now that I’m a part of it I see it. To this day we still do that, any player overseas we check in to let them know Baylor Nation is still behind them. To answer the question about playing overseas…playing overseas broke me, overseas made me tough-er, overseas helped me grow in so many ways, overseas helped me understand, and overseas number one made me appreciate my family, my immediate family, my BU family, and everyone who reached out to let me know that they love me and care for me. That’s the number one thing, overseas can get real lonely. There’s a lot of rules that fans may not understand. Not getting paid on time or at all. Living that tough life that fans may not see. Going through that made me understand and appreciate life way more. It taught me never to put my head down or give up. Always to trust that God has a better plan even more than the plan that you think your life should be.”
Q7) Is the passion and everything you went through why you are so passionate about coming back and pouring into these players?
A7) “I’ve seen the hardship. You’re exactly right. That’s why I care and in this position of Player Development that I’m in at Baylor. I just want these guys to know to appreciate every moment you have here. That outside world is really hard if you don’t have that support.”
Q8) How did you know it was time to get hang ‘em up and transition into coaching? For a dummy like me explain your role as the Director of Player Development and what does the position look like day to day?
A8) “Well overseas put me in a lot of situations, financially and emotionally. It makes you react in a different way. Everyone that sees you on social media in a highlight they may not know your emotional state, they may not know your mental state. I had been debating on retiring before I did for 3 years in the making. But you always hear ‘You should play as long as you can, or do this or do that’. And when I hear those things I feel like in my mind I would tell myself you’re tripping keep your head up and keep going. And it got to a point where I was away from my family, I wasn’t able to take care of my family the way I wanted to fully. And I started thinking ‘There has to be something else out there for me, there has to be’. And I remember a mentor of mine John Lucas shared with me, he said ‘Don’t be afraid to pursue something other than playing basketball. This is not the only way to take care of your family.’ Which makes sense, because I was training and spending a lot of time in Waco. I thought once I was done playing basketball everything was over. But I joined this Rewired program where I got to vent and talk about things from overseas. And I realized just because I retire doesn’t mean I cant help grow the game. Yeah I have passion to play, but now I get more passionate to help the next young player.
At that point I knew I was ready to retire. Which is why I left mid season. I felt like God was telling me to follow his path. With my mentors Scott Drew, Timmy Byrd, my family, and my wife being as strong as she is and having her support it felt right. My wife kept saying ‘Whatever you want to do I got your back.’ You know there were a lot of nights crying and thinking leading up to me leaving. But look where we are now, God has blessed me to give back to these young men.”
Q9) In the role of player development, what are some of your goals and pouring into the young men in the building?
A9) “You know man really just being there for them. Being there for the program, for the staff, and for the players. I am here to learn. As much as we say we are here for this young man as a player and a person, but when we see them fight we learn from them. I don’t want to let these young men down. They look at me as a guy who is supposed to be here to help. As much as I want to help them, God is going to put me in the place to do that. So it’s not a worry. But as much as I want them to listen to me and for me to help. I have to listen to them and let them help me. Sticking together as a family in the ups and downs. There are going to be ups and downs. But the more I can give them knowledge as a player, the more they can give me. We aren’t starting apart and coming together in the middle. We start in the middle and work together. I just want to be who I am, be true to the Lord, and stay true to this program and understand what we’ve built. It is an open relationship, you have to be able to understand both sides. Communication is everything. As much as me and the guys communicate, I am here through the ups and downs. I am here when you score 30 and I am here when you score 0.”
Q10) Since you have come back to Baylor who have you seen develop most, and who do you think will surprise Baylor nation as a breakout player this year?
A10) “You know what’s crazy. We had a meeting earlier, and we just talked about how the entire team has developed and grown and is getting better day by day with each other. You know me coming in new I went to Adam, Keyonte, LJ, Langston but all of them are growing and getting better day by day. I don’t just want a relationship with one or two. I want a relationship with all 15. From the walk-ons to the starters. They need to know people believe in them and keep fighting. Seriously to answer your question it is all of them for me. I love them all. To see them in the gym, they spend time in the gym. They dedicate time to the gym and to this program. I am looking forward to them competing because they really do have each other’s backs.”
Q11) Most importantly how hard is it for you that Baylor was an Adidas school when you were here and now the Nike drip is unmatched?
A11) “That’s one of the ones I talk about to this day. I wish I could show the uniforms. But now we are Nike Elite, and at least I get to put the gear on. I don’t miss playing, I retired at the right time, I don’t miss the Adidas but I appreciate it because it brought us to where we are now, we are in the best gear in the world. We are one of 10 programs with the Nike Elite patch. We are going in the right direction baby, let’s keep it up.”