Charlotte High basketball player Tre Carroll has every right to have a big head and ego. Even as a junior, Carroll is a polished player with a unique set of skills for his size.
He’s a 4-star recruit with Division I offers from USF, FGCU with others rolling in. He could make it all about himself, put on flashy dunk clinics during fast breaks and rack up the stats — no one would blame him.
He could have an ego. But he doesn’t.
Through all of his success he remains grounded, puts his team first and keeps that chip firmly on his shoulder.
“I couldn’t be where I am without my teammates,” said Carroll, who was named Sun Boys Basketball Player of the Year and Overall Male Athlete of the Year.
“I don’t see myself as a first-class scorer, I see myself as a passer who gets my teammates into the game. I always like to get my teammates into the game first and then I’ll score or takeover if I have to. That’s how I’ve always been.”
Carroll rarely goes into a game looking to score 20-plus, though it happens more often than not. He’s just an content to sit back and run point, getting guys like Tyrik Gainer and John Gamble in the flow of the game.
He doesn’t need to score, he does when the team needs him to. The decision on when to sit back and let his team get hot and when to light it up for a school record 48 points is made from experience.
“It’s just an instinct,” Carroll said. “I just know when to do it. You can’t really say it’s right or wrong, it’s just an instinct that you develop overtime. My mom always told me, there are sometimes you just have to take over a game and you can’t let no one stop you. I need to take a backseat when I’m not doing well and someone else is. I get the ball to them and say do your thing.”
You won’t find many athletes like Carroll. That’s mainly because he’s a 6-foot-7 wing with the handles of a guard and developing mid-range and outside shot. He averaged 24.4 points per game, 9.6 rebounds per game and 3.4 assists per game while shooting over 60% for his career.
Carroll’s coach, 20-plus-year Tarpon veteran Tom Massolio, said if he was drawing up a game plan to stop him, he’d throw as many guys as he could at him to deny him the ball.
“But that won’t work,” Massolio said. “Next year he’s gonna become a better shooter, he’s gonna be stronger, it’s gonna be scary. You’re gonna have to put somebody smaller on him to guard him out there on the perimeter. But for one, he’s gonna shoot over him, or two, he’s gonna post you up. Then if you put someone bigger on him to defend the shot, he’ll blow by you.”
What makes Carroll even more unstoppable is his motor — Massolio thinks it’s better than any of his physical attributes.
Carroll has the ability to continue to push himself and his team no matter what is going on in a game or practice. If he’s in a slump, more often than not he can fight his way out of it.
“He’s a really passionate and emotional type of player,” Charlotte senior Nnamdi Edeoga said. “Usually he just tries not to overreact and just work through it. I remember he got in a little slump our sophomore year and he was just constantly in the gym working out and getting shots up and soon enough he was right back to normal.”
It’s that passion that often bursts out of Carroll during the highs and lows of the season. You could see it dancing in the huddle, trophy gleaming above his head, after a district championship win over rival Port Charlotte during his sophomore season.
You could also see it after his half-court heave to tie the regional semifinal rimmed out or after a 12-point loss in this year’s district final after he poured on 48 points in a loss.
For Carroll, losing is rock bottom, a place he doesn’t often visit. That’s why he is determined to keep the Tarpons in the hunt for a state title, which he guarantees for his final season.
“Losing is just not my way to go,” Carroll said. “I hate it. You don’t want to lose, but you learn from it. But losing makes you second guess yourself. Losing and I are not good friends.
“When you win, you’re all positive and happy. I always want to be in that positive spirit.”