Matt Guokas, Jim Lynam, Marvin O’Connor and the rest of the Saint Joseph’s alumni in the Big 5 Hall of Fame need to make some room.
On April 14th, in a ceremony inside the hallowed halls of the Palestra, Pat Carroll will become the latest Hawk to be enshrined as a member of the Big 5 Hall of Fame. Carroll will be joined by former Penn guard Michael Jordan, La Salle forward Crista Ricketts, and college basketball writer Dick Weiss.
It has been nearly a decade since Carroll last donned Saint Joseph’s crimson in the 2004-05 season, which ended with SJU finishing as the runner-up in the NIT. He came to Hawk Hill in 2001 after averaging 15.7 points and six rebounds in his senior season at Hatboro-Horsham High School.
As a junior, he was a key member of the 2003-04 team that finished the regular season undefeated, ultimately culminating in a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight. Alongside Delonte West and Jameer Nelson, Carroll captured All-Big 5 Second Team honors and led the Atlantic 10 in 3-point percentage (45.8%). Carroll carries a lifetime of memories from that one unforgettable season.
“There are so many memories; beating Wake Forest in the Sweet Sixteen, for one. The game was near Philadelphia (the Meadowlands) and there were so many Saint Joseph’s fans, it was incredible. Also, when we won the 27th game at home against St. Bonaventure with Coach Martelli addressing the crowd after the game and cutting down the nets. It was the best.”
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he added. “It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on a team. It was something I never imagined happening.”
In his senior season, Carroll took the reins of the team and earned Co-Atlantic 10 Player of the Year honors as well as the Robert V. Geasey Award as the Big 5 Player of the Year. During that season, the Hawks sputtered to a 3-6 start but rallied in the second half of the season to earn a NIT bid and reaching the championship game. He averaged 18 points per game and set the SJU single-season record for 3-pointers in a season with 135.
“To start the season like that after going 27-0 was extremely hard for everyone,” he said, “but something clicked. The coaches made great adjustments, the players accepted their roles. The ride during the rest of that season was incredible.”
A marksman from beyond the arc, Carroll finished his career as one of SJU’s greatest shooters and the owner of multiple school records, including 3-point field goals (294), 3-point percentage (44.5 – also an Atlantic 10 record) and 3-point attempts (661).
Carroll’s record of 294 3-point field goals stood tall until this past January, when senior Langston Galloway broke the record on January 25th in a game against Richmond. For Carroll, the torch couldn’t have been passed to a better successor. He’s made it a point to keep in contact with Galloway throughout his career and Galloway actually reached out to him on the night the record was broken.
“He’s such a class act and I’m so happy for him,” Carroll said. “He puts the time and effort in to be a great shooter and it’s great to see.”
In 2005 and 2006, Carroll played for the Houston Rockets summer league team under then-assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, now the head coach and defensive mastermind of the Chicago Bulls. He signed a contract to play with the Dallas Mavericks in 2006 but was subsequently released.
Between 2005 and 2010, Carroll played professionally in Europe. It was a “fun time” according to Carroll, but it was also filled with its challenges, such as his dislocated shoulder his first season in Italy and ultimately, his torn ACL suffered in 2010, which ended his playing career.
“It was probably the best thing that happened to me [getting hurt in Italy]. I got to spend a year in the gym working on shooting, ball handling and conditioning,” he said. He also would play for clubs in France, Greece and Spain. In 2010, he returned stateside and started the next chapter of his life.
Along with his brother Matt, they formed Carroll Bros Basketball Camp, which they have been running for 10 years. They strive to develop fundamentally sound ballplayers, high character individuals, strong leaders and positive teammates. Matt Carroll, a graduate of Notre Dame, is a 10-year NBA veteran who most recently played with the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2012-13 season.
Who better to teach the subtle nuances of technique, release and follow through than one of the best 3-point shooters in Big 5 history?
“The last thing you want to do is think about your shot on the court,” he said when breaking down the importance of muscle memory and repetition, some of the hallmarks of great shooters. “You just want it to be second nature.” It’s a sentiment echoed in Allen Iverson’s words years ago to fellow sharpshooter and former 76ers teammate Kyle Korver, “shooters shoot.”
This enterprise has become Carroll’s passion. He is back on Hawk Hill and enrolled in Saint Joseph’s Organizational Leadership and Development M.S. program in an effort to grow his camp into a full-time basketball-training endeavor.
In addition, the brothers give an annual scholarship to a deserving senior from their alma mater, Hatboro-Horsham High School. Carroll has seen first-hand what hard work, dedication and opportunity can do for someone with a passion for basketball. Those things, after all, helped get him to this point.
Getting inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame is huge. For people who live outside of Philadelphia, the Big 5 is an unfortunate mystery for them. It never gets the consistent national attention as some rivalries in other parts of the country, but Philadelphia has consistently put out a talented, well-coached, competitive hoops product for years, both in the high school and collegiate ranks.
Carroll moved to the Philadelphia area in the seventh grade and that’s when he got his first taste of Philly hoops. The first high school game he attended was at the Palestra, when Kobe Bryant’s Lower Merion team squared off against Richard Hamilton’s Coatesville team.
The importance of this moment isn’t lost on him. He is gracious and appreciative of the true honor it is to be mentioned with the rest of Philadelphia’s greats.
“I think Philadelphia is the best basketball town in the country,” he said bluntly. “It’s hard to explain the Big 5 rivalries and the atmosphere at the Palestra. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced the Philadelphia basketball scene. There’s nothing like it.”
And to have his name placed alongside Philadelphia legends like Dr. Jack Ramsay, Tom Gola, Paul Arizin and so many others, well, “it’s really incredible.”