As a sophomore, University’s Erik Carlson wasn’t afraid to mix it up with his Greater Spokane League basketball elders.
“My sophomore year I didn’t know anyone or who was good,” he said. “I just went out and played.”
Last year he didn’t have the year that people expected, but Carlson is making up for lost time in this, his senior season.
In three pre-season outings, the 6-foot-5 Carlson averaged 23 points per game. In back-to-back Greater Spokane League games over the weekend he added a total of 33 more.
Included was a 20-point, 10-rebound effort in Saturday’s loss to rival Central Valley. Carlson wasn’t satisfied.
“I didn’t play as smart as I wanted and the free throws (just 2 of 7) were not going in,” he said.
But if that’s a bad game, GSL foes beware. He must expect better things to come.
Carlson worked his way into the Titan lineup after pre-season games as a sophomore. His breakthrough came against Central Valley in the second GSL game of the season, when he scored 10 points.
He went on to have eight more games in double figure scoring, and with his aggressive inside play, nearly averaged in double figures. Although he scored well early as a junior, Carlson scored no more than seven in any of his last five league games last year.
“I had a lot of ankle problems during the summer and think I was scared about that,” he said. “People expected more of me. Things didn’t click.”
It made him determined to become better and his coach, Jay Humphrey, says that this season Carlson has something to prove.
Included was a 20-point game in U-Hi’s season opener and a 30-point outburst in Pasco. The Carlson of his sophomore season was back.
Growing up, Carlson was always taller than his contemporaries if not necessarily as coordinated. Playing basketball came naturally.
He spent most of his summers playing in various age group national tournaments. By his sophomore year he realized that this was the sport for him and he gave up on baseball.
“I couldn’t keep my concentration in baseball,” he said. “I love the excitement of basketball. It’s so fast moving. Something is always happening.”
Carlson’s strength has been his willingness and ability to bang inside.
“I think I’m a pure post,” he said. “But I’ve been working on my outside shot and have expanded my game.”
Small colleges have expressed interest.
To date University is 3-2 overall. The loss to CV dropped the Titans to 1-1 in league.
“It always hurts losing to CV,” said Carlson. “It hurts worse knowing if we made our free throws earlier we’d have been in the game.”
Next up is a non-league game Saturday at Cheney, pitting Titan coach Jay Humphrey against a team coached by his dad, Denny. Then it’s back to the GSL wars.
“Everyone wants to win GSL,” said Carlson. “Our goal is to get to regionals and go from there.”
The way he’s been playing, it’s a goal within reach.
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