Soon after arriving at Texas A&M in 2017, Chennedy Carter began to establish herself as one of the greats. On the road against USC that December, the Mansfield, Texas native scored an Aggie single-game record 46 points. She averaged 22.7 points per contest that year and was named an All-American – a feat she repeated in her sophomore year, after averaging 23.3 points per game. Her many scoring milestones throughout her first two seasons dot both the school and NCAA record books.
As a freshman, Carter made headlines for her heroic pull-up three-point shot in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against DePaul, which lifted Texas A&M into the Sweet 16. She was named the National Freshman of the Year. Then, just two days into her junior season this month – only a week before her 21st birthday – Carter scored 34 points in the Aggies’ exhibition game versus the Women’s National Team, making her the only collegiate player to score as many points against the squad of future Olympians. She has played on many USA Basketball teams. This past summer, she helped the Pan Am Games team win a silver medal.
Carter, who is eligible to forego her final year at Texas A&M and declare for the WNBA draft next spring, has also had her share of criticism. She said she chooses not to respond, preferring to focus on basketball.
She remains close to her father, who taught her how to play the sport, her three brothers, whom she played fiercely against, and her mother. Her cousin is former WNBA guard Jia Perkins, who retired in 2017.
The Aggies and the USC Trojans have made their fall series an annual event. Last weekend, before this year’s match up in Los Angeles, Carter sat down to discuss basketball, undue comparisons, personal growth and more.
It seems like you’ve been somewhat misunderstood throughout your basketball career. Who is Chennedy Carter, and what is your motivation in this game that we love?
Just a student athlete of the game. I’m a normal person. I think there’s a lot of opinions about me, but I’m a junior. They’re putting my name in a lot of conversations with a lot of great players in the world. So it becomes a little controversy between me and other people and just my name to the media, period. But me, I’m just playing because I love the game of basketball. I’m not playing for stats or anything like that – I’m playing to win. Whatever happens on the stat sheet it happens, but as far as I know we’ve been winning the games that really count. It’s a new year, it’s a new season, and there’s a lot left to be said and a lot left to be done.
Why do you think you are misunderstood by some?
I think it’s people who don’t really watch basketball, don’t really know roles for a team, don’t know what a person’s job is. That person has to know how to get the job done. I think I’m misunderstood with my emotions to the game, too. It’s just because, if you want to win as much as you want to breathe, then you know how important winning is to me. But I’m a great loser, though. If I lose, I’m always knowing I can get better and take something away from that.
You’ve heard the criticism about you: you’re cocky, you’re a ball hog. Why do you think people say that? Do you think you’re cocky and/or a ball hog?
I think the only ones who say I’m a ball hog are the opponents I’m going against, who don’t want me shooting the ball. Every time I go into an arena I hear it, and it’s just funny because most of my shots go in. But of course you don’t want me to shoot the ball; I understand. Then there’s people who are fans of other players who think they’re capable of doing better than me, but when that time comes, that time comes. I think I’m the most explosive, creative guard in the country.
Most people that come up with comments don’t really know me or never had a conversation with me. My job on my team is to score the ball – that’s what I do. I’m a shooting guard. This team that I play with, my role is to score the ball and play for myself and others, and I think I do a fine job of doing that. I’m no longer at the one position anymore; we have a point guard for that. The point guard’s obligation is to get me and my teammates the ball and get everyone involved. So when you’re trying to compare me to another player that doesn’t even play the same position as me, it’s just funny to me. It’s funny because I’m a two.
I was at the one when I was a freshman, and I had a bunch of assists records. Then I moved to the two when we took a tough injury last season in December, and that just made us change roles. It made me change my game. I had to step up for my team and be the go-to player night in and night out. I just feel like I don’t get enough credit for really being there for my team, if I’m being honest.
They compare me with seniors, but I’m a junior. So it’s funny to me because they’re trying to down-talk a junior. But the talk doesn’t affect me; I don’t pay it no mind.
You’re not on social media a whole lot.
I may say a couple things here and there, and post, but I see it. I just continue to play hard and go about my day.
Do women get criticized for being confident more than men?
I think people are targeting women the wrong way. We should be working together to make the game more popular. We shouldn’t be down-talking one player; you should be talking great about all of them to make the sport more watched and more viewed. The fact that we talk down on certain players and then complain that women don’t get enough views is our own fault. If I’m being real, that’s the way I see it.
When you see NBA players, even if someone has a bad night, some reporter still finds something good to say about them, or they don’t say anything at all. But when it comes to girls, it has to be said, it has to be heard – different opinions. I think we should be working together to evolve the game and make it more watched.
The first time I saw you play in person was at USC on Dec. 15, 2017 when you scored a school-record 46 points. How is the freshman Chennedy different from the junior Chennedy, both on and off the court?
I just grew. The whole process will really make you grow and really make you prepare for any moment. I didn’t come in thinking I would just put up numbers like that. Those nights just happened sometimes. I’m just playing to win. If we win tonight and I don’t score, I’ll be just as happy. Honestly.
Some people might be surprised to hear you think that way.
That’s just because they’re assuming. There are so many things I do well. They’re just assuming that if I’m not doing the well things well, then it’ll become a conflict.
Last year coach Blair said he was trying to get you to become more of a leader. What did he mean by that, and have you become that leader?
It’s a lot of weight on me and I think I carry it each day and I don’t shy away from it. I don’t shy away from the big moments. Each game teams are preparing for me, and what they don’t understand is we have weapons on our team. Just because someone may not show it that night, someone else is getting it done for the team. That’s why I say we’re so unselfish because no one really cares – we just want to get the job done at the end of the day. You can’t really judge us by a scout. Teams throw different stuff at us, but our game plan is different. It’s not necessarily me every night. We scheme for teams. We have a bit more depth, and we’ve seen every defense. At this point there’s nothing else you can do except straight up man us.
You dropped 34 points on the National Team. How were you able to do that?
It’s just putting in a lot of time and a lot of work in the gym, working on my game. I was prepared for the moment from the moment they came. Those are the things where, if you’re a good player or you aspire to be great, you know you dream for moments like that, to be able to play against the best players in the world, and actually measure yourself. Where’s my game at? Or, how can I elevate my game? I think that night was just a good night for me because I just played so selfless and just free. I didn’t have a care. I just stayed within the system, and went out there and played.
Honestly, people may say the DePaul game (was my best game), but I think (the game against the National Team) was the best game I’ve ever played.
Is the goal for this season to win a national championship?
My goal for the season is to just take it one game at a time. It’s a little early in the season to be looking that far ahead, but of course that’s the ultimate goal. Right now I’m just working on getting each of my teammates to understand that we’ve got to be better. We’ve got to work on a lot of things if we even want to make a deep run in the tournament. It’s something that’s easier said than done.
Did you have fun playing for the Pan Am team this summer?
Yeah, that was great playing with (Oregon State’s Mikayla) Pivec and (South Carolina’s) Ty Harris – that’s my sis. It’s a great opportunity when you get to see the world at such a young age, and I was fortunate enough to make a couple teams and go to places that I’d never been before, try some different foods and just play. It’s fun – I’m telling you, it’s fun playing against other countries. The pace is so different. And it’s fun seeing the world.
You can learn from your teammates. My USA teammates are who I’ve learned the most from. Everybody brings something to the team, because (USA Basketball) they really picked out players who could bring something different to the table, and it really stood out when we played together through the course of that month.
Have you decided yet whether you’re going to leave school at the end of this year and enter the WNBA draft?
That’s just funny, because when people bring up the draft to me. (Stops and pauses) Everything came so fast. I haven’t really thought about it yet, but I am eligible to leave. That’s a decision I’ll make when the time comes, but right now I’m just focused on the season.
Has having a WNBA player as a cousin been an inspiration?
I think it’s cool to have a family member who’s been down the road that you’re trying to travel on, who’s already been there and paved the way for me. It’s fun, me and Jia got together this summer and spent some time together, got in the gym a little bit.
Have you always had great court vision?
My dad trained me and he always talked about court vision, and how you’ve always got to be able to see it. I just always know how to make the right play. Sometimes I try to thread the needle, but nine times out of 10 I just know. It’s just an automatic thing. Ball screens to me are just the easiest thing; I just know when it’s coming. There are multiple options.
How old were you when you first started playing?
At what age were you when you realized you were in love with the game?
So it was love at first sight?
So you took Wilson and Spalding to the prom?
Naw, I didn’t do that – I just spent a lot of time in the gym, versus other kids. A lot of people may say they did, but I really did.
You have said you want to be great one day. What does “great” mean to you?
I want to be remembered. I want to leave something to the game. I want to be someone who helps change the game.
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
I would just say I have my times when I’m in the mix and in the scene with my teammates, and then I have some time when I’m by myself. But most of the time I’m by myself. I’m like, board man gets paid: I do my job, I go home, everything’s good. That’s the way I like to do it. I’m in between the lines, but when I’m outside the lines, I’m my own person. This world is big to me, so I do my own thing.
So what do you do?
I just hang out with myself, and my friends. I have a lot of friends I hang out with outside of basketball. I like to play a lot of video games. I play 2K.
Who are your best friends?
I have regular students as friends, but I do have some athletes as friends, in football and men’s basketball.
What are you studying?
I’m a leadership major and a sports management minor.
So after basketball, you want to do something with that?
Of course – I want to come into communication and broadcasting and talk about sports outside of basketball.
If you had free time away from basketball, how would you spend it?
I want to go to Dubai and kick my feet up.
What’s on your playlist right now?
My favorite artist is Gunna. And Drake and Future.
Do you have any pregame rituals?
No. I do try to get at least an hour nap, though. But I don’t necessarily need a nap – I just need to get off my feet before the game.
Do you meditate or practice relaxation techniques?
My meditation is my music, and when I get to the court, that’s my sanctuary.
Do you get nervous before games?
There’s no need to get nervous. Whether you play good or bad, people are still going to love you.
The fan base in College Station is great.
You know, it’s crazy, but I have a fan base around the world. I’ve got people in different countries that I’ve been in, playing for USA Basketball, who have kept up with me all the way back to the USA.
What is one thing about you that most people wouldn’t know?
I’m a sweetheart. I’m a good person, too.
How do you show that?
You’ve got to be around me to know me, and the world is crazy because perception is everything. My friends know, trust me. The people who have really been in my corner – they know how I am. It’s not up to me to change anyone else’s opinion. They can think what they want. I make myself happy, and as long as I’m happy, that’s all that matters.