Carter to Start Professional Career in Israel, Knows he has a Home at MSU
East Lansing, Mich. - Like most young players, Michigan State men’s basketball player Ben Carter grew up dreaming of playing the sport professionally.
When MSU’s season ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on March 18, those dreams began to become a reality, happening a bit quicker than even he thought possible.
Carter signed a contract over the weekend with Hapoel Jerusalem, a professional team in Israel that plays in the EuroCup, the Israeli Premier League, and the Israeli State Cup.
Carter, who was born in Israel and has dual citizenship, knew that he might have the chance to play overseas after his season was done. But he had no idea he’d be boarding a plane on Wednesday, March 28 to fly to Boston and then to New Jersey before a 10-hour flight to Jerusalem. And that tomorrow, on Friday, March 30, he’d participate in his first practice as a pro.
“I knew I might have the option to go over and play, but the fact that it happened so quickly was really something I didn’t fathom,” Carter said on Tuesday at the Breslin Center. “But it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up and it was something I wanted to pursue.
“It’s making a dream come true. Every kid dreams of playing in the NBA, but I’m getting the chance to play professional basketball at a really high level. I’m going to my home country and that makes it pretty special too.”
Not only is Carter playing professionally for the first time, he’s playing for a team his father, Mike, played one season for during his 13 years in Israel.
While Carter was born in Israel, he only lived there for one year and has been back just twice. The first time was when he was 3-years-old and he traveled with his family to see his father’s jersey being retried, and then in 2013, when he and his brother, Tim, helped lead the United States team to a gold medal at the Maccabiah Games.
Carter has one class to finish before earning his master’s degree in kinesiology and has made arrangements with the team to finish his classwork and return to Michigan State so he can take part in graduation ceremonies on May 4.
“I’m coming back for my graduation,” Carter said. “It will be a special moment for me to walk across the stage to get my master’s degree and know that I’ve earned two degrees. It will be a chance for me to give a proper farewell to this community and to my teammates and friends. It will forever be a place I will call home. The memories I’ve made here will be a part of me forever.
“I made it a point when I was in discussions with the coach and general manager that I wanted to be back for graduation. It’s very special for me and it will mean a lot to me after all of the hard work over the last six years. It was really important to me and it’s why I made it a point that I wanted to be here and I’m thankful they will give me the opportunity. “
Carter started his college career at Oregon and earned his bachelor’s degree at UNLV before transferring to Michigan State in the summer of 2016. He hurt his knee the first day of practice last year and missed the entire year before coming back this season to be a valuable member of the 2018 Big Ten regular season champions.
“It’s cool for me when I look back over the last six years of my life and I can see my progression from a boy who was 17-years-old at Oregon and now, here I am, starting a pro career at 24 years old,” Carter said. “I think about that and fast forward six years to three different schools and multiple injuries and it almost seems like this was where I was supposed to be and this was the path that was meant for me. I know I’ll forever be able to come back here and cherish the relationships I’ve made here and some of the things I’ve accomplished.”
And while he only spent two seasons at Michigan State, and played one year for the Spartans, Carter knows that he found a home In East Lansing.
“I wouldn’t be in the situation I am without the help of Coach Izzo,” Carter said. “What he’s taught me, both on and off the court, are lessons that I’ll use throughout the rest of my life. I was welcomed in here as part of the family from the day I got here. Michigan State is just a special place and will always have a special place in my heart.”