Eddie McCarter’s impact still being felt on basketball in Troy

Published 11:54 am Friday, February 9, 2024

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Eddie McCarter last coached basketball in the City of Troy in 1988 but the impact he left on the community can still be felt at both Charles Henderson High School and Troy University.

McCarter coached at Charles Henderson – the first head-coaching job for the UAB graduate – from 1979 through 1988. McCarter’s Trojan teams went 188-74 with four Area Championships, two Elite 8 appearances and one Final Four appearance. His 1987 team was also the first CHHS team to ever make it to the State Championship game.

Eddie McCarter coached at CHHS from 1979 until 1988. (CHHS Yearbook)

“The thing I remember most of all is that I had some really good players at Charles Henderson,” McCarter said. “I had very good players when I was at Charles Henderson and when you have good players that usually translates into being seen as a good coach. The next thing I remember most is getting the team to the State Championship Game. We came up short by a bucket but that was a fantastic memory that we created.”

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Current Charles Henderson head coach Tim Fayson was a member of that CHHS team.

“He was a pleasure to work with,” McCarter said of Fayson. “I can still see the smile on his face when he knocked down a jump shot. He could really shoot the ball.

“I’m sure Tim is a very good shooting coach because he just had a natural stroke and his form was good and his release on the basketball was good. Most of the time the shots went in for him and that was a pleasure to watch.”

Fayson remembers the lessons that McCarter taught he and his teammates that led to success off the court as much as on the court.

“He followed Coach (Bobby) McCracken, who my brother played for, so it was a continuation of winning basketball but even more about creating good people,” Fayson said. “He focused on the person, not just the player. He wanted you to be a good person even more than a good player on the court. That’s what I remember most about Coach McCarter. He pushed us to be just as good off the court as on it.”

It just so happens that the second time Charles Henderson took a team to the State Championship game it was led by Fayson himself.

Tim Fayson played for McCarter at Charles Henderson. (CHHS Yearbook)

“It made me feel really good,” McCarter said of watching Fayson lead the Trojans back to a state title game. “Anytime one of your players that you coached – or people you were associated with on a team – has success it’s great to see, especially when they follow along a path you were on.

“It made me feel really good to watch that and I was hoping they would pull it off. I was really pulling for him to be the first coach to lead Charles Henderson to a state championship and I’m sure if he coaches long enough he will get it done.”

Fayson called it a full circle moment to be the coach to lead CHHS back to a state championship appearance.

“It made me feel great. I talked to him before it and he actually talked to the team at a team camp before the season even started,” Fayson recalled. “To have it come full circle – to be able to be a player on that first team and then lead our team back – was really great. I remember a lot of the lessons he taught us and we’re trying to build on all those things he preached and we learned from him.”

After playing for McCarter at CHHS, Fayson went on to play collegiately at Troy and then eventually became an assistant coach and head coach at CHHS.

After McCarter departed Charles Henderson in 1989, he joined the staff of UT-Arlington as an assistant coach and then took over as head coach in 1992, where he met current Troy University head coach Scott Cross. Cross played for McCarter at UT-Arlington and then later coached under him there.

“When I first met Coach Cross out in Texas he came to us as a sophomore. He spent a year redshirting at Texas-San Antonio and then played a year at Tyler (Junior College),” McCarter recalled. “We saw him on campus playing and realized he could fill a need right away for us and the rest is history.

“He was a really good player for us the entire time he was there, very similar to Tim (Fayson) in that they were both very coachable. He did a good job for us. We had some great teams at Arlington while he was there and he was a consistent player for us and a pleasure to coach. He just worked hard every day. The only thing he wanted to know was what he needed to do to get better.”

Cross coached under McCarter at UTA for a number of years before becoming the head coach that succeeded McCarter there. Cross spoke glowingly of his former coach.

“I wouldn’t be here today without Coach (McCarter),” Cross emphasized. “He was the first one to believe in me, he was the first one to believe I was a Division I player and he gave me the opportunity to coach as soon as I was done coaching.

“He was the first one to hire me and I’m forever indebted to him for that. A lot of the defensive minded stuff I preach to our guys comes straight from Coach McCarter. He was all about defense and toughness and rebounding. The most important thing is that he believed in me and I was super thankful to have had the opportunity to play for him and coach for him. He is someone I definitely look up to and is a great mentor to me.”

Scott Cross not only played for McCarter at UT-Arlington but coached for him there, as well. (Photo courtesy of UTA Athletics)

McCarter said that he knew Cross would be a great coach when he was still playing, calling him a coach on the court.

“To see him in Troy, when I found out he got the coaching job at Troy, it felt like everything coming full circle,” said McCarter. “I’m really excited for him and so far I think he has done a tremendous job. It’s a good feeling to see both (Cross and Fayson) having success.

“More than for myself, for them it feels good. They were a part of something we were doing a long time ago and we all had success back then and they’re having success now.”

McCarter said it makes him feel even better that both Fayson and Cross are having success in a place he loves.

“When I look back at Troy, it was so good to me,” he said. “I was able to coach there for nine years and the people there were tremendous. The community was very supportive of the program and I had some great players. I want them to have success at the university and at the high school.”

Cross said the connection with McCarter and Troy didn’t even hit him until after he landed the job.

“I didn’t even put two and two together until after I got the job,” he said. “He was like, ‘You know that’s where I started, at Charles Henderson’ and I was looking out the window at the school when he said it.

“It’s such a small world sometimes. I remember him telling all of us that he was from Alabama and half my teammates were from Alabama. He talked about recruiting here and anytime he could come to Alabama he would. I just had no idea it was Troy and Charles Henderson where he got started.”

The Eddie McCarter connection in Troy doesn’t stop at Cross and Fayson either. Larry Cordaro, an assistant coach at Troy, started his coaching career at UT-Arlington under McCarter, working alongside Cross as an assistant coach.

“Larry is one of my favorite coaches and he was always a hard worker,” McCarter said. “He always calls me wanting me to come down and watch them play. He did a good job as a head coach himself at LSU-Alexandria, they won a lot of games down there. I’m awfully proud of those guys and everything they’ve accomplished and seeing them grow and have success they are having is a pleasure.”

After departing from UT-Arlington, McCarter returned to his alma mater UAB for a couple of years and then spent time as head coach at West Alabama and as an assistant coach at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, North Alabama and Shelton State Community College before retiring last year. He said that now he gets to sit and enjoy watching basketball.

Cross and Fayson are carrying on McCarter’s basketball legacy in Troy.

“I’m done coaching,” he said. “I really enjoyed coaching at the high school and college level but now I’m pastoring a church here in Alabama and that takes up all of my time and it’s a lot like coaching.

“I enjoyed it while I was doing it but coaching is a strenuous, stressful job. Most people just see you when the game starts but don’t know how much time you have to put in behind the scenes practicing, watching film, making sure the guys have what they need and making sure they’re where they need to be. I don’t miss that part, I love relaxing and just watching the games.”

McCarter returns to Troy any chance he gets to watch his former players coaching. He was in Troy back in January to watch the Trojans face off against Louisiana and Southern Miss.

“When I come and watch Scott or Tim’s teams play I still get nervous like I’m coaching,” he said with a laugh. “I’m riding on every play, every pass, every shot. That’s all I want to do now though, just watch the game and get to go home after it. I do enjoy watching their teams have success, though.”