When he signed with Kentucky in 2005, Jared Carter envisioned joining the school's long Blue line of basketball heroes.
"I thought I'd come in here and make a big impact," he said on the eve of his final UK home game. "I thought I'd come and (pause) just play."
That hasn't happened. In this senior season, he hasn't played more than five minutes in any game. He's scored eight points to bring his career total to 38 (or the equivalent of Jodie Meeks on a good night).
Yet as he spoke with reporters about Wednesday night's Senior Day festivities, Carter offered no second thoughts about coming to UK.
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"I'm not going to look back on these four years and think it's a mistake or a bad decision," he said.
Carter sounded upbeat, if reserved. He sounded content, even grateful for a career that surely tested his patience. Two coaches, three shoulder injuries and few memorable on-court contributions. Perhaps his star shined brightest last season at Houston when big man Patrick Patterson could not play. Carter scored six points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked two shots.
Then he seemed to fade away.
Carter cited an off-season trip to Africa he took with teammate Ramon Harris as bringing him much-needed perspective.
"I was kind of lost," he said. "Before that, I asked what am I here for? I think God ... had me here for a reason."
It might be difficult to understand why he wanted Carter on Kentucky's basketball team, but Carter has an answer.
"I've grown a lot spiritually," Carter said. "If I had a lot of playing time, if I was a real big-timer, I probably wouldn't have had a relationship with God as much as I have."
Carter seems serene as he goes through this senior season. For instance, when he came out onto the court for early shooting at South Carolina, he sipped from a soda can.
For a hard-charger like UK Coach Billy Gillispie, serenity is not a desired quality.
When asked why Carter never developed into a highly productive player, Gillispie first noted that the player's inner fire still did not burn bright.
"He's probably still trying to develop the eye of the tiger," Gillispie said. "That probably would have helped him a great deal."
Carter comes across as a nice young man. A girl could bring him home to meet mother. It's just that a coach like Gillispie would like to see a nasty streak.
"You see it in sparks," teammate Josh Harrellson said of Carter in practices.
When asked about that "eye of the tiger," Carter noted how the multiple shoulder injuries zapped his confidence.
Even if blessed with a healthy career, Carter figured to need time to blossom. That's what his high school coach, Billy Hicks of Scott County, said when Carter signed with UK in April 2005.
Carter might someday produce for UK, Hicks said, before adding, "I hope people aren't expecting it right away."
Hicks guessed that Carter would need "two years minimum" to become a productive college player.
Four years later, Gillispie saluted Carter's good attitude as a benefit for the team.
"But it's a priority way down the list," the UK coach said. "It's not priority A, B, C, D, E, F or G. Because you'd like everybody to be more productive on the court. If it can't be, (a good attitude) would be priority A."
Carter hopes to continue trying to become a player. He said he's willing to play overseas.
When asked why, he said, "I have height and skills for a reason. I'm not going to quit."