CHARLOTTETOWN – When you get a chance to bring in a former NBA player, you do it.
On Wednesday, the Island Storm of the National Basketball League of Canada did exactly that, agreeing to terms with former Memphis Grizzlies forward Sampson Carter.
Carter appeared in six pre-season games for the Grizzlies in 2015, and admits it was an experience of a lifetime. Playing alongside childhood hero Vince Carter and all-stars Mike Conley Jr., Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph was just icing on the cake.
“Playing in the NBA was an experience I always dreamed about,” said Sampson. “I grew up admiring Vince Carter, having his jerseys, shoes and posters up on my walls. So to be able to compete against him, play alongside and share a locker room with him was a blessing.
“Mike, Marc, Z-Bo and those guys all looked out for me and made me better everyday. They taught me timing, pace and how to slow down and think the game through.”
Experience aside, Carter’s basketball journey has been anything but easy. In the four years following his graduation at the University of Massachusetts in 2014, the six-foot-eight forward played in seven different countries for various professional clubs. Most recently, Carter suited up for Alab Pilipinas of the ASEAN Basketball League, where he put up 13.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in 2016-17.
“Travelling country to country is not easy as Canada will be my eighth country in four years as a pro,” the Baton Rouge, LA, native said. “But it has strengthened me and helped me adapt to any position I am put in to help my team win and be successful.”
Similar to how another (Vince) Carter made a name for himself on Canadian soil in the mid ‘90s, Carter is hoping to do the same with his new team.
“My expectations are to come in, work hard and do whatever coach needs me to do to help the team win. My mentality is set on having a winning season,” the 27-year-old said.
From a physical standpoint, Carter brings size and versatility to the forward position that Storm head coach Tim Kendrick covets.
“Sampson is an elite level talent with great skills that fit the way we like to play,” Kendrick said. “He’s a very good shooter at six-foot-eight, and can play multiple positions that keeps teams off balance.”
But it’s his leadership and experience that could make the biggest impact, and Kendrick is excited to use that to his advantage as the Storm continues to build a contender.
“At only 27, he is a young veteran who we are counting on to mesh with our other vets and help lead our squad to a championship,” said Kendrick.
Season tickets for the eighth-year of Storm basketball are set to go on sale later this month at the Eastlink Centre box office in Charlottetown.
Compiled by Thomas Becker for the Island Storm.