Profile: Eli Carter
Published: Monday, November 4, 2013 at 6:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 4, 2013 at 2:24 a.m.
ELI CARTER • G • JUNIOR
Florida junior guard Eli Carter shares a close bond with an NBA star.
Weight: 200 pounds
Will the Miami Heat three-peat this year?: Hopefully not.
Favorite Song: I just listen to music, but nothing in particular.
Growing up in Northern New Jersey, Carter was on the same AAU team as Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. A friendship developed, and the two continue to work out together during the summer.
“He just tells me to stay the path, stay focused, continue to do what I do to get where I am,” Carter said.
Irving starred for a season at Duke before being taken first overall by the Cavaliers in the 2011 NBA draft. Carter's college path has been different. After two seasons playing close to home at Rutgers, Carter transferred to Florida in the wake of the player abuse scandal last April involving former Rutgers coach Mike Rice.
Carter received an NCAA waiver to play this season, but how much he contributes remains to be seen. The shooting guard has been slow to heal from a broken leg that ended his sophomore season at Rutgers in February.
“I'm not disappointed,” Carter said. “I'm getting better than what I was when I first came here. So I'm just taking it day-by-day.”
When fully healthy, Carter said he hopes to bring intensity and experience to a Gator backcourt looking to replace former starters Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario. In limited workouts, Carter has shown Florida coach Billy Donovan his high basketball IQ and strong feel for the game.
“He's fully healed, but he needs to get more strength in his foot, he needs to get more strength in his calf, he needs to be more explosive, he needs to lose a little bit of weight,” Donovan said. “There are things he needs to do to get back to that level.”
Donovan knows Carter's ceiling firsthand. As a sophomore, Carter averaged 14.9 points in the Big East Conference at the time of his injury. And as a freshman, Carter poured in a career-high 31 points while adding seven rebounds and seven assists in Rutgers' 85-83 double-overtime upset win against the Gators.
Carter said he still gets some ribbing from his current teammates about his big day against the Gators.
“I just was ready for the challenge, knowing it was Florida coming into our building,” Carter said. “I was just excited just to play against them.”