Growing potential

Westminster senior Kevin Carr has matured into a great player -- thanks to his family background and the help of modern medicine

Boys Basketball

January 28, 2007|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

As the son of a former small college standout, nephew of a top assistant coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference and brother of a two-time Carroll County Player of the Year, Westminster's Kevin Carr was born to play basketball.

His body, however, needed a little convincing.

After spending most of his life as the smallest player on the court, Carr began a physician-supervised regiment of human growth hormones about a year ago. Now, after growing six inches in a matter of months, the sharp-shooting, 5-foot-10 point guard has raised his stature and his game, positioning himself for a chance to continue his career at the next level.

Carr is averaging 13.4 points per game to rank among the county's leaders. He also leads the county in three-pointers (35) and ranks near the top in assists and steals for the Owls (11-5).

"He makes us go," Westminster coach Brett Kanther said. "The biggest thing with Kevin is that he makes big shots."

Carr did just that recently against Monocacy Valley Athletic League power Thomas Johnson, scoring the deciding three-pointer in a 55-53 win. He also went 5-for-5 in three-point attempts in an 83-61 win over Century.

It wasn't always this easy.

"When I was little, it was so hard to pass over people, since they were so much taller," said Carr, who thinks that his size has had some benefits, as well. "Being small my whole life, I had to keep dribbling. So now, it's made it easier to dribble."

Kanther, who has coached at least one of the Carr brothers in each of his five seasons, pulled Kevin and four other junior varsity players up to varsity as sophomores to help plug holes created by graduation. At just 5-1, Carr often had to face relenting fans and opposing guards who were several inches taller.

"A lot of the schools, especially at Thomas Johnson, would razz him about his height," Kanther said. "I think he was a little frustrated, but it never really bothered him."

In fact, he soon began to flourish, consistently finding ways to put the ball in the basket. Last season, he averaged 13 points and led the 22-team MVAL in three-pointers, with 66.

"Kevin's always been a very good shooter," his father, Mark Carr, said. "He's never had a problem scoring, even when he was 5 feet tall playing with kids 6 foot."

To help close that gap, however, the family turned to medicine.

"He just wasn't growing, so we took him to a specialist," said his father, adding that Kevin's height was in the fifth percentile for his age at the time.

Doctors put Carr on a regiment of hGH and predict he'll eventually grow to 6 feet tall.

"Now, I hardly ever get my shot blocked anymore," Carr said.

The fact that Carr would be a skilled basketball player is not surprising, considering his family history.

Mark Carr was a standout guard at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Mass., from 1978-82 under coach Ron Bradley, himself a former three-time NAIA honorable mention All-American. Mark Carr eventually married Bradley's younger sister, Fran, a cheerleader at Eastern Nazarene.

The couple went on to have two sons, Kevin and older brother Ryan, who earned county Player of the Year honors in 2003 and 2004.

"I guess it runs in the family," said Ron Bradley, now in his fourth year as the associate head coach at Clemson after earlier spending eight seasons as an assistant at Maryland under Lefty Driesell and Bob Wade.

All told, Carr's uncle, Ron Bradley, and grandfather, Carroll Bradley, have a combined 65 years of collegiate coaching experience.

"I just grew up playing," Kevin Carr said. "It was a lot easier to play knowing that my family came from basketball."

Mark Carr said that his wife started bringing the boys to his games from the day they were born -- "I guess they really didn't have much of a choice," he said, laughing -- and put basketballs in their hands when they were old enough to walk.

Many of Kevin Carr's earliest memories in basketball came at his uncle's summer camps, which both brothers annually attended when Bradley was the head coach at Radford and later the top assistant at James Madison.

Though he was technically too young to attend at first, his uncle made an exception, then watched him steal the show.

"There he was, my nephew, and he was winning all the little contests -- the one-on-one contest, the free-throw contest and the ball-handling contest ... every year," recalled Bradley, who learned of Carr's ultra-competitive nature early on. "I remember when he was still 6 or 7. One day his team was losing, and he couldn't take it. He went into a crying tantrum, and I had to go on the court and carry him off."

Now 17, Carr is what coaches call the prototypical "gym rat," spending countless hours either honing his skills or playing in pick-up games.

He improved his game markedly while playing several years for the First Baptist Amateur Athletic Union team, where he has competed alongside some the metro area's top players, including Mount St. Joseph center Henry Sims and Glen Burnie guard Kareem Downs.

After growing about a half foot in a year, Carr said that he's leaning toward playing next season at a community college while he continues to fill out his frame. He weighs about 155 pounds.

He hopes his continued development will help draw more interest from college coaches.

"I feel strongly he should at least be a Division III basketball player," Bradley said.

Said Mark Carr: "I'm hoping that some college will take a liking to him."

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