DUBUQUE — The University of Northern Iowa’s most recent class of 2019 men’s basketball recruit truly feels blessed to have secured an opportunity to put his God-given talent on display at the collegiate level.
Noah Carter made a trip to the hospital last December anticipating he would receive painkillers for a severely bruised thigh following a pair of collisions on the basketball court.
The 6-foot-5 Dubuque Senior standout two games into a pivotal junior season for college recruitment was surprised to learn he needed an operation for compartment syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition in which excessive pressure builds up within a compartment to the point that blood cannot supply oxygen and nutrients.
“The doctor put a couple needles in my legs to check the pressure and he said it was very high, and this is a rare case and it was compartment syndrome,” Carter recalls. “I had no idea what it was. He told my dad I needed immediate surgery.”
Following a successful operation, Carter found out that he would be able to return to the basketball court for the end of his junior campaign. He was back playing for the Rams by late January and went on to average 18.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, one block and one steal, while shooting 59 percent from the field and making 11 of 21 3-point attempts.
Carter’s addition helped boost Senior to the substate final where the Rams suffered a one-point loss to North Scott.
“I had a lot of motivation to get back because I know how important the high school season was and how important this AAU season was,” Carter said. “There’s a possibility I could have lost my leg or something worse could have happened. Just realizing that I can’t take anything for granted, I need to be thankful for what I have.
“I’m a christian and I’m a big believer in my faith, so I’m thankful for God blessing me. Without Him, I wouldn’t be anything. I just want to keep that faith. I’m just very thankful for everything.”
Back to full health this summer, Carter collected a variety of Division I offers from programs like Drake, South Dakota State, Lehigh and Air Force while competing with the Barnstormers AAU team.
“Now that he’s in shape and he’s back 100 percent, he’s just a different player,” Dubuque Senior’s veteran coach Wendell Eimers said. “I know he’s been tearing up the AAU circuit.
“I don’t know if I’ve coached a kid that had a better month in the summer than what Noah has. He has been at another level the past six weeks. He’s been an awful special basketball player out there.”
Carter credits the work UNI coach Ben Jacobson invested during the recruiting process as a major factor in Wednesday’s decision to commit.
“When he (Jacobson) was recruiting me he said he wasn’t going to let up and he didn’t,” Carter said. “He was at all of my AAU games and that was a big factor for me. He really put in maximum effort and it paid off.”
Carter is a post player for his high school team who plays a stretch 4 or 3 role at the AAU level. He’s an efficient scorer who has worked to develop a complete skillset.
“Growing up with my older brother, I always had to work on finishing with my other hand because he’s four years older than me and he beat the crap out of me when we played one-on-one,” Carter related. “I’d always would get so mad because I wanted to beat him, and realized I had to work on other things to get around a bigger guy.”
Midway into his freshman season, Carter cracked Eimers’ starting lineup, and he led Senior with 18 points during an opening-round state tournament loss to Pleasant Valley.
As a sophomore, Carter averaged 18.5 points while shooting 63 percent from the field, 79 percent from the free throw line and 48.5 percent from 3-point range.
The future Panther is described by his coach as a team-first player who possesses plenty of confidence and drive to excel.
“What he has done is, he’s said, ‘I want to be the best scoring post on the block, but I also want to be a perimeter player, and I also want to be able to hit that mid-range jumper and be able to attack from the perimeter,’” Eimers said. “He’s shooting the 3-ball at a very high percentage right now. He’s not only attacking the rim, but he attacks the rim and he dunks the thing.
“He’s gotten a lot more athletic, and he’s worked so hard on his game that he’s going to be awful tough next year and he’s going to be a heck of UNI Panther down the road.
“I think Coach Jacobson loved all the different ways that he can score. He told me ‘I’ve never recruited a player like Noah.’ I think what he meant by that was that he’s such a good scorer on the block, but he can also shoot it so well and he’s so athletic.”