University of Missouri

‘I’m here to help Cuonzo:’ Former Missouri star DeMarre Carroll eager to assist Tigers

DeMarre Carroll sat in a folding chair in the far corner of the gym at Tolton High School with one eye on his cell phone and another on the court.

In Columbia for his seventh annual youth basketball camp, the Brooklyn Nets forward is juggling his social initiatives with his financial ones as he was waiting for a call about an investment meeting in Atlanta the next day.

As the former Missouri star prepares to his enter his 10th NBA season, he carries a full plate off the court with his time being split among his AAU teams, youth camps, a clothing company he’s about to start, and of course, his wife and three kids.

“It’s been a jam-packed schedule,” he said.

Carroll’s agenda is no surprise to those who watched him play this past season with the Nets. Reunited with coach Kenny Atkinson, who was an assistant with him in Atlanta, the 6-foot-8 forward had a career year, with highs in points per game (13.5), rebounds (6.6), assists (2.0) and games played (73).

After battling knee injuries during his two seasons in Toronto, where he played from 2015-17, Carroll credits the Nets training staff for getting him healthy and improving his body.

He’s spent the offseason lifting more than in past summers and he is using free weights with his legs for the first time in his pro career.

No matter how busy his schedule has been, Carroll has always made time to return to Columbia each offseason to run his camps. Despite only playing two years at Missouri after transferring from Vanderbilt, Carroll hasn’t forgotten the impact the community made on him as a player when he led the Tigers to the Elite Eight in 2009.

“People always welcome me with open arms,” he said. “This is the foundation that really helped me jump to make it to the NBA. Without Missouri, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”

Carroll has been in touch with Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin and said he’s trying to attend a game next season if the NBA schedule allows.

He said Martin has told him to reach out whenever he wants, so he can help keep his footprint on the program.

The feeling appears to be mutual.

“I’m here to help Cuonzo get big-time recruits,” Carroll said. “I wants to see Missouri like it was when I was here. I want to see them make it to the Elite Eight. Hopefully they can go further.”

Martin’s son Chase, a junior at Tolton, currently plays for Carroll’s AAU team in Columbia and two of Michael Porter Jr.’s younger brothers, Coban and Jevon, play for his program as well.

Carroll and Porter Jr. share an agent in Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports and he said the family consulted him in the spring on the pros and cons for signing with the agency.

Porter Jr. was drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the No. 14 pick in June’s NBA Draft, which makes him the third Missouri player in the league, alongside Carroll and Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“He definitely should have been a top-three pick,” Carroll said of Porter Jr. “That’s what you want. We’re known for a basketball school. We should have a lot more guys here go to the NBA because we have a lot more to offer here at Mizzou.”

Carroll has plenty to worry about before his post basketball career, including his new clothing brand with Canadian designer Christopher Bates, but he’s already thought about some things he’d like to do once he hangs it up for good.

He thinks he can play another five to six years, but Carroll said one of the first things he plans to do upon retiring is to return to Missouri to finish his master’s degree in human development and family studies.

“Maybe (I’ll) relive my college life (for) one year,” he joked.