Vince Carter’s celebrated career as a basketball player began in a high school whose gym is now named for him. It is now, literally, the house that Vince built.
Carter is a legend at Mainland High School, where he was Florida’s Mr. Basketball in 1994 and 1995 and an All-America selection by McDonald’s, Parade magazine and USA Today. He scored more than 2,200 points in his high school career (813 in his junior year alone), recorded more than 985 rebounds and 335 assists, and led his team to a Class 6A state championship in 1995. Carter, who still holds all Mainland individual records except assists, was a finalist for the James Naismith High School Player of the Year Award in 1995 and was named Gatorade Player of the Year. He was also a member of the USA Junior National Select Basketball Team that played in the World Championships his senior year, and won the McDonald’s All-America High School Slam Dunk Championship. Carter’s talents were not limited to basketball, however; he was also the Volleyball Conference Player of the Year in 1994, and he was selected head drum major for the band his senior year. He played saxophone and baritone and was offered a music scholarship to Bethune-Cookman College.
Carter played out his college career at North Carolina, where he averaged 12.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 103 career games with the Tar Heels. As a junior, he was first-team All-ACC, second-team All-America and named a candidate for the John R. Wooden Award, presented to the nation’s best player. Carter led the school to the Final Four in 1997 and 1998, and led the Atlantic Coast Conference and was ranked 18th nationally with a 59.1 field goal percentage. He left North Carolina for the NBA after his junior year but returned to graduate in 2001.
Carter was the fifth overall draft pick in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft by Golden State, but played his first six seasons with the Toronto Raptors. He was named the 1999 NBA Rookie of the Year and won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 2000. Carter was a member of the gold-medal U.S. Olympic Team in 2000, averaging a team-high 14.8 points per game in eight contests. In 2004 he moved to the New Jersey Nets, where he led the team in scoring with 1,911 points in 2005-06 and set a franchise record for points scored in a season. Carter has been named to the NBA All-Star Game eight times.
He was named one of The Sporting News’ 2004 Good Guys and a “Goodwill Ambassador” by Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. Carter established the Embassy of Hope Foundation to support causes for children with events in Florida and Ontario, and donated $2.5 million to finance the building of a new gym at Mainland High School. He is still a resident of Ormond Beach.