Where are they now?
Record-holder Carr still staying close to the game he loves
While Notre Dame shooting guard Austin Carr may not have ever felt the glory of leading the Irish to a Final Four during his career, his incredible NCAA tournament performances have withstood the test of time, making him one of the most memorable players in the tournament’s storied history.
Carr’s most impressive feat was his 61 points on 25-of-44 shooting from the field against Ohio in 1970. More than 40 years later, those marks still stand as NCAA tournament records. Carr’s 52.7 points per game in three NCAA tournament contests in 1970 is also a record for scoring average in a season.
During his career, Carr averaged 41.3 points per game in seven NCAA tournament contests, a mark that also still tops the charts. Carr has three of the six 50-plus point games in NCAA tournament history (the other three are by Bill Bradley, Oscar Robertson and David Robinson) and five of the 12 highest scoring NCAA tournament games.
“We didn’t have any conference tournaments because we were independent at the time, so we always looked forward to the NCAA tournament to try to make our mark,” Carr said. “That was something I was fortunate enough to do and play well in the tournament. I was always ready for them.”
Carr was the No. 1 pick of the 1971 NBA Draft for the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he spent most of his professional career before retiring in 1981. “Mr. Cavalier”, as Carr was known, was voted to the All-Rookie Team in 1972, and garnered NBA All-Star honors in 1974, but struggled with injuries during the latter part of his career.
“I had three knee operations and sports medicine wasn’t as advanced as it is now,” Carr said. “I really played my last five years in the pros on one leg.”
Following his retirement, Carr worked in private business for five years before rejoining the Cavaliers organization in community relations. He then went on to work in corporate sales for the team. Fifteen years ago, Carr joined the Fox Sports Ohio broadcast team as the color commentator for the Cavs.
“I do a little bit of all three now, but mostly broadcasting,” Carr said. “I try to get involved in the community to help the younger generation that is trying to find their path in life. I really enjoy doing that.”
Heeding the advice of a former broadcast partner, Carr tries to be himself on the air.
“I enjoy having fun with the game,” Carr said. “I try and talk about the game as if we’re sitting together [with the audience] watching the game somewhere. [Play-by-play announcer] Fred McLeod and I have a big time doing it. We’ve been up and down as far as the team is concerned since LeBron [James] left, but the fans have stuck with us and we’re having a good time with it.”
Carr has definitely noticed some changes in the game of basketball since his playing days.
“They try to spread the scoring out now,” Carr said. “They don’t like to have one guy in control as much as back in my era. There was always one guy teams played around and off of but now they don’t do that.”
In addition, Carr says there are more versatile big guys on the court at the Division I and pro levels.
“When I played, the big guys were in the front court and the smaller guys the back court,” Carr said. “It changes the way the game is being played. The legitimate center is pretty much gone from the college and pro game because you have a lot of guys who are hybrids. They are 6-10 or 6-11 and can do a lot of different things now.”
While Carr admits there is always a chance of someone breaking his records one day, he said the changes in the game will make it much more difficult to achieve that feat.
“Records are made to be broken, but at the same time the way they play the game now is different,” Carr said. “You have to be in great shape to be the focal point of an offense and still deliver on a nightly basis. I was unconscious that night. It was my night. To do that in a tournament game with the pressure that is on you, I don’t know if it will be broken.”