It would have been easy for Chase Carlton to have a letdown in the third-place game of the NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament last month.
After all, just hours earlier his Ranger Junior College (Texas) basketball team had lost a hard-fought battle in the semifinals against the host school, Hutchinson Junior College (Kansas).
But as Urban ASAK Elite Head Coach Mike Murphy can attest, Carlton doesn’t know the meaning of the word letdown. Murphy coached Carlton and a group of Central Texas studs for four years on the select basketball circuit before Carlton took has skills to the next level at Ranger.
As everyone in the aforementioned tournament can attest, those skills were on full display during Ranger’s successful run. Carlton led his team in scoring, making five of eight three-pointers. Just as impressive was his ball-handling skills as he dished out seven assists, while committing only one turnover.
The game was typical of his overall tournament, where he was in the top ten of categories like free-throw percentage, three pointers made, assists and minutes played, all while competing against other high-major prospects. Not surprisingly, he was presented with the prestigious Bud Obee Outstanding Small Player (for guards 6-foot-1 or under). The tournament was an extension of his season in which he was named to the all-conference team in a league known to have some of the best teams in the country.
Ranger completed the season 31-7 (35-3 on the court) under the guidance of veteran college basketball coach Billy Gillispie in what some are calling the remarkable turnaround ever of a college basketball program. Ranger was 2-23 last year.
Over the course of the season, Carlton averaged nine points a game and had an assist to turnover ratio of near three-to-one. He also shot 45 percent from the three-point line and better than 80 percent from the charity stripe. Carlton, a graduate of Westlake High School in Austin, also excelled in the classroom, where he is a straight-A student.
But it is on the court that his presence is felt most by both his teammates and his coach.
“I have had a lot of tough, hard-nosed guards in my coaching career, but few bring it day in, day out like Chase does,” said Coach Gillispie. “He has a bright future ahead of him.”