SDN Boys Basketball Coach of the Year: Greg Carter

Greg Carter
Staff Writer

There are a couple of reasons that Starkville High School boys basketball remains as one of the most consistent basketball programs in the state of Mississippi year in and year out.

One of those reasons is the fertile grounds that produce talent capable of playing big-time college and pro basketball. Travis Outlaw, Gavin Ware and Tyson Carter have proven that in the modern era and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.

Then there is Greg Carter, who is one of the most productive coaches anywhere in Mississippi.

Carter just finished up his 12th season as head coach of the Yellowjackets with a seventh 20-win season. He also won yet another Class 6A, Region 3 championship and had his team playing in Jackson in the Final Four again.

It was a 23-4 team that Carter deemed “special.”

“This particular group was the epitome of a team," Carter said. "We didn’t have any superstars and won’t have anyone sign with a Division-I team like we have with some players in the past, but they were coachable and they played well together. One of the main things that made them successful is they accepted their roles. We’re really going to miss these guys.”

Things didn’t start particularly smooth for Carter as he had several players out for the first few games as the football team made a deep run to the state championship game. The Jackets began the season 3-3 with losses to Meridian, Columbus and Okolona, which were three teams that played for state championships with two of them winning it all.

It all came together after that.

The Jackets reeled off 20-consecutive wins and got all the way to the semifinals of the state tournament. They came up just short in their third meeting of the season with Columbus and the Falcons ultimately won the title. Still, Carter stood in the hallways after that game and couldn’t find a single reason to be down on what his team had accomplished.

“It took us a little while to get things going and for guys to get that comfort level but once they did, I think we really played well,” Carter said. “This was one of my better shooting teams. They could really shoot the ball and their offense led to defense most of the time when it’s usually the other way around. It was a different team but it worked.”

One of the reasons for the success of SHS this year was guard Blake Rogers. The Starkville Daily News Player of the Year shined bright on and off the court and was the team’s leader. He, along with fellow senior guards like
Donte Powers and Jordan Temple, led the way for a big run after the early losses.

Rogers especially doesn’t believe that he would be in the position he is in without Carter’s leadership. The coach always pushed his shooter to be the best he could be.

“As I started getting older, coach expected more out of me and my game," Rogers said. "When he expects that out of you, you’ve got to step up or you won’t play. He did a great job of pushing me over the years and making me a better player.”

Next season Carter will be presented with yet another challenge as he’ll have to replace the bulk of his production. As usual, however, the coach will likely get his players up to speed quickly.

Once again, the proof is in the pudding as to how the program remains so successful. Powers, Temple and Rogers will be representing the Jackets on the next level playing junior college basketball next season. It’s always a treat for Carter to see his players earn their dreams, but this group made him smile a little bit more than usual.

“It means a lot every time I get to see one of them be able to go on to the next level and continue their education and athletic career in college, but this group as a whole has come so far,” Carter said. “It’s a special group.”