AUSTIN _ Tweety Carter joined the Baylor basketball program in 2006, fresh off becoming the school's first and only McDonald's High School All-American recruit.
But when Carter arrived at Baylor, he didn't come in thinking he was all that. And he didn't demand a ton of playing time right away.
"Tweety was like a sponge,'' Curtis Jerrells said. "He was always questioning me and asking me stuff.
"He didn't complain and he didn't pout. He accepted his job.''
Jerrells should know.
Jerrells was a sophomore point guard at Baylor when Carter joined the Bears. What struck Jerrells the most about Carter's demeanor at the time was that he just wanted to fit in, and that he immediately accepted a role of coming off the bench for the Bears.
"He wanted to learn everything from me, so he took a backseat,'' Jerrells said. "He's a real team guy and that's why eventually he started and we actually played out there together.
"That's what you've got to do if you were in it for the team, and that's what he did. We taught each other things.''
While Jerrells has moved on from Baylor and is now a rookie starting point guard for the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League, Carter is carrying on the Bears' recent success. And in his first year as Baylor's starting point guard, Carter and the Bears (27-7) will face Saints Mary's at 6:27 p.m. Friday at Houston's Reliant Stadium in the NCAA Tournament's South Region Sweet 16.
Jerrells knew Carter was a special player who would lead the Bears to special places. After all, when he played at Reserve (La.) Christian High School, Carter once outscored an opposing team by himself when tallied an incredible 74 points to lead his team to a 114-71 victory over East St. John's.
This season has been Carter's first full season as a starting point guard, and what a season it's been. Carter is averaging 15.1 points and leads the Big 12 Conference with 6.03 assists per game.
In short, Carter has transformed himself from being a player who basically was a spot-up shooter to one who sets up his teammates, but also is able to find that delicate balance where he's still able to get his own shots.
"I knew he was capable of this,'' said Jerrells, who will be at Friday's Baylor game. "I told people that he was going to be better because he would understand his role.
"He was kind of confused between him and I on who was the point guard and who would shoot. Usually he would play the two-guard because he was a better shooter than I was, but he wouldn't put his mind to shooting the ball that much.''
So Jerrells, one day, had a heart-to-heart talk with Carter about shooting the ball more.
"We had a lot of talks,'' Jerrells said. "I told him, 'Man, you're a better shooter than I am, so when you come off that screen, shoot the ball.'
"He was confused about when to score, when to pass and when to be a pure (point guard). But now he's by himself, he's the point guard, he's leading the conference in assists and he's scoring about 15 points a game. He's doing it all.''
-- Dwain Price