Finding his way

Skaggs played basketball at a junior college, prep school before coming to WSU


Oliver McKenna | Daily Evergreen File

Carter Skaggs plays in a game against the California Golden Bears Jan. 13 at the Beasley Coliseum.

DYLAN GREENE, Evergreen sports editor

Carter Skaggs’ journey to Pullman took him across the U.S., until the pieces came together when he put pen to paper in August to join the WSU men’s basketball team.

“It was just something I couldn’t pass up,” Skaggs said. “To play at this level has always been a dream of mine.”

His path to WSU started in 2015, when he graduated from Logansport High School in Logansport, Indiana. Right out of high school he signed with Chipola College, a junior college in Mariana, Florida, after he didn’t receive the offers he was looking for.

During that summer High Point University, a Division I school in North Carolina, took an interest in Skaggs. But they told him he wasn’t Division I eligible, so he would have to spend two years at Chipola or attend a prep school to make the team.

Skaggs chose to go to prep school and attend Bridgton Academy in Maine. He stayed there for one year and then signed with High Point, before ultimately deciding to go back to Chipola.

He spent the 2016-2017 season with Chipola, averaging 7.7 points per game. After that, Skaggs decided to change schools again and signed with Vincennes University, a junior college in Indiana that is about three hours away from his hometown.

Skaggs said he never intended to move around so much — he just wanted to find the right fit for him and his game.

Along his adventure, Skaggs met current WSU assistant coach Bennie Seltzer while he was an assistant at Loyola University Chicago. That connection would help Skaggs find his way to WSU.

Last summer while Skaggs was training and preparing for his first season on Vincennes basketball team, Seltzer got a hold of him.

Seltzer had just been hired as an assistant on Head Coach Ernie Kent’s staff months earlier after playing for WSU from 1990-93.

Skaggs was told the Cougars had two roster spots open, and after speaking with Kent he decided to leave Vincennes before the season started and join WSU.

The 22-year-old was able to play right away when he arrived on campus, and Skaggs said he brought a lot of experience with him.

“You’re not going to find too many sophomores that have been through as much adversity as I have,” Skaggs said.

Despite all the time spent playing basketball at colleges around the country prior to coming WSU, Skaggs said it was an adjustment.

“I feel like this year, I don’t really want to see it as a learning experience year,” Skaggs said, “but this is a whole new level for me.”

It hasn’t taken long for Skaggs to adapt, though. So far this season, he has knocked down 51 three-pointers in 379 minutes of action.

Skaggs said he got his shot from his father, Patrick, who played college basketball at Missouri Southern State University and University of Indianapolis.

His dad also coached him in high school. Skaggs said his dad was harder on him than anybody else on the team, but it helped prepare him for this moment.

The 6-foot-5-inch guard said he does envy his dad a little, because of his height advantage.

“He’s about 6’ 8’’ … I wish I could have a couple more inches like him,” Skaggs joked.

Kent said he and his coaching staff have a lot of confidence in Skaggs’ ability to make shots and impact a game.

“He’s got a coach that loves him,” Kent said. “When a coach lets you shoot the ball, gives you a green light to shoot and tells you to keep shooting, it makes it easy for you.”

Skaggs has had several games this season where he took that green light and ran with it. In the second half of a game against Kansas State University, he accounted for 17 straight WSU points while making seven consecutive three-pointers.

Skaggs said when his shots start falling and he gets hot, it seems no one can stop him.

“That’s the best feeling in the world,” Skaggs said.

However, Skaggs admitted that being a shooter has its disadvantages, like going on cold streaks for extended periods. But he said that when he does miss a shot he doesn’t allow it to affect his next chance to put points on the board.

“Being a shooter like me, you got to have a short memory and you always got to think it’s going in,” Skaggs said. “You’re not going to make every shot, everyone knows that.”

When those shots do fall, redshirt senior forward Drick Bernstine said the team feeds off Skaggs’ energy.

“I’m not sure it’s him actually knocking down shots as much as the celebrations, honestly,” Bernstine said. “His celebrations get everyone involved in the game, including the fans.”

Skaggs said he plays with his emotions on his sleeves, and he isn’t afraid to let the other team know what he is capable of.

Sophomore forward Jeff Pollard said Skaggs’ love for the game can be seen each time he walks into the locker room.

“Carter brings an energy and a passion I’ve rarely seen from basketball players,” Pollard said. “He’s just so pumped every day.”

Despite his early success, Skaggs said he wants to improve his play on the defensive side of the ball and become more athletic, to guard multiple positions on the floor.

After his time at WSU is over, Skaggs hopes to continue his basketball career overseas, and to one day return to the US to be a coach.

Kent said what makes Skaggs stand out is his competitiveness and ability to shine late in a game.

“A lot of times freshmen, new players or even some of your veteran players sometimes fear that,” Kent said. “That’s not [Skaggs]. That’s why I love him as a player, because when he gets on center stage he loves to perform. He doesn’t run from the moment, he embraces the moment.”