“Everybody loved Vince because he never got cocky,” explained Mainland high school’s Athletic Director Dick Toth to The National Post newspaper in Canada.
This would be a common theme throughout the career of the pride of Daytona Beach, Vince Carter. Administrative staff, family and classmates saw the humility Carter carried himself with and that is what makes him who he is today.
It wouldn’t take long for the future UNC Tarheel to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with in high school. As a freshman in 1991 Carter became his team’s star player and went on to average 20 points per game his sophomore year.
Although a young Carter realized that basketball was his life’s route, he made an effort to be more than only an athlete. His step-dad was the bandleader at his high school which inspired Carter to pick up the saxophone, trumpet and drums. Carter was often seen carrying his sax through the halls and even led his school’s band as a drum major.
Off the court Carter kept a B-average in his classes, realizing the correlation between good grades and a professional career.
“I wasn’t the greatest student, but I sure wasn’t the worst, either,” Carter recalls to Doug Smith in “The Vince Carter Story.” “I knew I had to keep my grades up if I wanted to play basketball. If there was one thing my mom and dad stressed all the time, it was the need to study and keep the grades up so I could play ball.”
Heading into his junior season, Carter’s coach moved him from guard to forward after a growth-spurt helped him stretch to six-foot-six. That year, the high-flier averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds while leading the Buccaneers to a 30-2 record.
Winning his second “Florida’s Mr. Basketball” award in two years, Carter started to build a recruitment case his senior year. While writing halftime band music and maintaining a 3.0 GPA, Carter helped earn national attention for his team.
His final year’s performance earned him All-American honors from McDonald’s, USA Today and Parade Magazine. Carter was also voted Gatorade Player of the Year and still holds every individual record at Mainland high school besides assists.
Despite being offered a music scholarship to Bethune-Cookman College for his saxophone abilities, Carter was expected to choose either Florida or Florida State and play college ball close to home.
The future first-round draft pick would shock everyone and choose UNC, en route to being the No.5 selection by Golden State in the 1998 draft.
Check out highlights from VC’s time in high school below: