Jaycee Carroll Making Impact Early In His USU Career
Dec. 2, 2004
LOGAN, Utah - For a school that relies so heavily on junior college transfers, Utah State has had some great success with its incoming freshmen over the years.
Utah State has produced three Big West Freshmen of the Year dating back to Greg Grant in 1983, Kendall Youngblood in 1989 and Bryon Ruffner in 1991. Aggies have been members of the conference all-freshman team on 11 occasions, including recent choices Tony Brown in 1999 and Nate Harris in 2003.
While it is early, make that extremely early, USU freshman Jaycee Carroll has Aggie supporters thinking he could be one of those type of players.
Through four games, the Evanston, Wyo. product leads the 3-1 Aggies in scoring at 12.3 points per game, while shooting a team-best (for those with at least 10 field goal attempts) 54.3 percent from the field. That percentage includes a team-best 41.7 percent mark from three-point range as he has drained five of 12 from behind the arc.
"Jaycee Carroll has definitely been the biggest surprise on the team this year," said assistant coach Don Verlin. "His work ethic and explosiveness have been tremendous for our basketball team. He is just coming off a mission in August and is doing such a fabulous job of learning our system and scoring the basketball. We are excited to have him as part of the Aggie basketball program.
Carroll, who was a two-time Wyoming Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002, went on an LDS Church mission to Chile right out of high school and returned to the states in August. After about three weeks at home, he was on campus at Utah State. It didn't take long for him to shake off the rust and return to his outstanding basketball form.
"I have been very happy and fortunate with the way things have gone since I came back and how quickly I have been able to get back in shape," Carroll said.
The freshman started his first game at USU and responded by leading the team in scoring with 19 points in 25 minutes in USU's 71-61 win against Georgia Southern.
After scoring nine points in the Aggies' loss to Central Florida, he pumped in a team-high 17 points in a win against Northwestern, but had just four points and fouled out against UC Davis since then.
"He's a freshman," said head coach Stew Morrill after the UC Davis game. "That's what I would say about his performance. He'll live and learn. He got a little out of sorts early and threw the ball away a couple of times and got rattled. That's called experience. He's got to get experience."
His average of 27.3 minutes per game, third on the team, will help him get experience. However, he came to USU with plenty of knowledge of the game. His dad has been a coach in Evanston since Carroll was very young.
And while he was always around basketball, Carroll found time to play any sport he could.
"I have always liked to compete," he explained. "Anytime I have gotten a chance to compete in anything, I have taken advantage of it from football, basketball, golf, swimming when I was little, and track. I really liked track my last few years in that."
It showed. On the track at Evanston High School he was part of a state championship team in the 4x400 relay, finished second in the state in the 400 meters and the 300-meter hurdles, and placed third in the 110-meter hurdles.
In high school he earned 11 different varsity letters, competing in basketball, football, track, cross country and golf.
And while he was born in Laramie, Wyo., and his dad graduated from the University of Wyoming, Carroll did not feel the pull to go to his state's school.
"Wyoming recruited me," Carroll said. "When it came down to it, Utah State seemed to show more of an interest. I felt like I would fit in well in this program... My dad would have loved for me to go to the University of Wyoming. My parents were very supportive of this decision. They thought it would be a great place for me. It is closer so they have been to every game so far. If I was at Wyoming it would be a four-five-six hour drive in the winter, so this is great."
And while he has only been in Logan for a short time, he feels this was the right choice for him.
"I am so happy," he said. "It has been a great and enjoyable experience to be around the people here and to get back into basketball and school. After two years off, I was excited to learn again and go to class and get on the basketball court and play."