Note: The following appears in the December issue of Orange: The Experience. For full access to all of the publication's content, join IPTAY today by calling 864-656-2115.
Senior basketball player Alexis Carter had normal beginnings in the sport of basketball, coming from a basketball family and starting at a young age.
“I first started playing basketball when I was three years old at the YMCA. And I grew up in a basketball family, so it was…expected.”
Carter was drawn to Clemson by both its academics and its athletics.
“It was a great school, education-wise and sports-wise. I wanted to compete in the ACC. I came on my visit, and I knew right away. I called three days later, and I committed.”
For many students, going to a college on the other side of the country can be a tough transition. For Carter, however, the transition to Clemson from Portland, Ore., was not difficult due to her independence.
“The transition was not too bad. I’m a pretty independent kid, and I was willing to travel anywhere to play ball and to get a degree. I definitely miss my family, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
As a family-oriented person, Carter does get homesick from time to time, missing her family.
“I do get homesick, mainly because I miss my family because I’m very close with them. But luckily, they’re able to come out every so often, so it’s not so bad.”
Carter is also incredibly close with her younger brothers, Drew and Ajay, who are 15 and 12 years old, respectively.
“We’re best buds. They’re growing up and getting big. Drew has already passed me in height…I’m kinda bummed about that. And Ajay, he’s close, so I’m about to be the shortest one in the family pretty soon.
“We’re best buds. They call me all the time. I try to be a good role model for them.”
Carter’s great relationship with her family extends beyond her brothers, as she credits her parents as her heroes.
“I would definitely say my parents are my heroes. They’ve shown me that you have to work hard in life and nothing is handed to you. And they’ve always been a great example to me and given me every opportunity to get to this point. So I can’t thank them enough for putting me in the position to do the things I want to do in life and get to play at the college level and get a college degree.”
Carter admitted there was a culture shock for her when she first arrived in Tigertown, but she does enjoy the different culture.
“Coming here was a big culture shock, from people, from food, to weather, to everything. But everyone here is so nice, especially in Clemson. Southern hospitality is definitely a thing.
“I remember when I first got here this random man said, ‘Hey, sweetheart, how are you doing? How’s your day?’ And I thought, ‘Who’s this man talking to me?’ But people are just nice here, so that’s definitely different.”
The 5’7’’ guard enjoyed an impressive high school career, earning many accolades, including AAAAAA first-team all-state and all-league honors three times. Carter reflected that her most memorable experience of her high school career was getting to play state playoff games in the Moda Center.
“My most memorable experience was probably playing at the Rose Garden…it’s the Moda Center now. They changed the name, but that’s where the Portland Trail Blazers play. So I was fortunate enough to play there all four years in state playoffs, so that was a cool experience to play where your hometown NBA team plays.”
Carter was also a three-time Nike Elite invitee, a great experience for her that helped improve her abilities.
“It was great. Portland is a Nike town, or the headquarters of Nike. It was high intensity. I was able to work with some amazing trainers and coaches at the Nike camps. It was great, great intensity, great group of girls. I would say I definitely got better every time after that.”
Carter’s high school and AAU success helped prepare her for ACC competition, particularly by allowing her to play outside of Oregon against tough competition.
“I think it definitely prepared me. I played with two great AAU programs, and then we won a national championship in the AAU route. We traveled all around the country, so playing in different parts of the country and getting out of Oregon definitely helped me. It was great. Definitely juggling being on your own is something you have to learn. But basketball-wise, but I was ready to compete and get here.”
Though Carter’s priorities lie with overall team success over her own, she has seen more success, and subsequently more starts, over the course of her career. Carter credits this to her leadership and work ethic.
“Starting is not my biggest thing…the overall team success is the main goal. I think over time I’ve become more of a leader and tried to work hard for that position and try to be the best player I can be for the team.”
Though mainly a basketball player, Carter also played softball and soccer, receiving scholarship offers in all three sports. Her love always lied with basketball, however, but her time spent as a player on both the diamond and the pitch helped her on the hardwood.
“I played softball and soccer. I actually got my first college scholarship offer in softball, but basketball was my first love, so I wanted to play basketball.
“In softball, you learn to have a short-term memory. You fail most of the time in that sport, so you definitely have to move on to the next play. I think that prepared me.
“With soccer, I would say endurance-wise and running. That helped me prepare, too. Playing multiple sports helped me become a better overall athlete by using different skills.”
On the court, Carter has noticed a lot of change with the team, from players to coaches to performance. The team has improved over her time as a Tiger with the ultimate goal of making the NCAA Tournament this season, a goal that she sees as attainable.
Off the court, Carter is looking to graduate and then find a job afterward, noting that she has some options lined up. With the future wide open ahead of her, this Tiger standout is sure to shine bright on the court this season and even brighter off it.