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Mizzou Hoops Player Preview: Noah Carter

It’s easy to focus on the Northern Iowa transfer’s stature. Yet the combo forward’s high IQ comfort playing in a five-out system could help him earn a significant role in Missouri’s rotation.

Northern Iowa v Drake Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

Over 13 installments, this series will dive deep into the 12 known scholarship players that make up the 2022-2023 Missouri basketball roster. Some installments might be more in-depth than others, if only because of the data and film available. In addition, evaluating players with multiple years of experience is more straightforward than younger peers.

The pieces read like a birds-eye scouting report. They skew more toward the offensive end of the court for two reasons. First, a player’s offensive metrics are more reliable than defensive data and less team-dependent. Second, it’s considerably easier to describe a player’s qualities with more well-known offensive statistics. As always, we encourage interaction from our readers. Please drop us a comment or find me on Twitter @DataMizzou.

The Player

Noah Carter arrives at Mizzou from Northern Iowa as a fourth-year transfer. The native of Dubuque, Iowa played three years for coach Ben Jacobson’s Panther program in the Missouri Valley Conference. As a freshman, Carter, an all-state performer at Dubuque High School, saw immediate time in Cedar Falls, appearing in 27 games.

Over the next two seasons, he became a vital cog in what has become a well-established program. The Panthers took home the regular-season MVC crown in his freshman and junior seasons. However, Bradley and Loyola Chicago secured the league’s automatic qualification into the NCAA tournament, denying him a chance at a March run. Carter has played three seasons in total but will have two years of eligibility available due to the 2021 Covid “freebie.”

The Numbers

Noah Carter | Junior | Combo Forward | 6-foot-6, 235 pounds

Year Min % Ortg Usage eFG% OR% DR% Ast % TO% FTR % FT% 2PT% 3PT%
Year Min % Ortg Usage eFG% OR% DR% Ast % TO% FTR % FT% 2PT% 3PT%
2022 65.50% 111 28.1 53 2.7 16 16.3 11.2 35.6 78.9 59.4 28.1
2021 68.50% 110.5 18.9 55.5 4.3 20.3 7.8 13.6 26.6 74.5 62.6 32.7
2020 15.20% 125.1 17.9 66.1 3.5 17.1 2.3 13.3 14.3 87.5 81.2 40

Noah Carter’s stat line immediately jumps off the page, and his film backs up the idea he could be one of coach Dennis Gates’ best offseason additions. Among hoop heads, UNI is considered a must-watch for offensive scheme. Jacobson’s teams rarely rank high in adjusted tempo but don’t play slow in the half-court. His five-out system is a half-court blur, and bigs must be mobile, comfortable in space, and competent with the ball in their hands. Fortunately, Carter’s skillset fit the scheme perfectly.

Playing alongside A.J. Green, a former top-100 recruit who found his way onto an NBA roster, Carter often acted as a secondary creator, mainly as a screener and passer around the elbows. When he looked to score, he often relied on spot-up jumpers but only connected on 27 percent of them last season. And he also struggled in pick-and-pop situations (7-of-24) for the Panthers.

Yet it doesn’t mean Carter was helpless outside the paint. On the contrary, he averaged 1.462 points per possession cutting to the rim. He was even better rolling (1.0 PPP) and slipping (1.625 PPP) after setting a screen. And he’s confident enough to attack gaps off the dribble, especially using his left hand (1.533 PPP) to get downhill.

I don’t expect Carter to handle and facilitate as much as he did for Jacobson. Still, Gates places a premium on guys who serve as connectors within a set. Carter certainly meets that definition. And considering how efficiently Carter did that job at a high-usage rate (28.1%), we should feel confident large chunks of his game should translate in Columbia. He also does a great job getting to the free throw line and converts at a high rate.

That said, Carter’s stature could pose problems, especially at the defensive end. At 6-foot-6, he’s a classic tweener, but on this roster, he’ll likely play as a four or five — which means guarding more athletic SEC bigs on the interior. Nevertheless, Carter’s got a sturdy frame and understands how to displace post players and front the post. He did it for stretches in Cedar Falls, but it’ll be interesting to see how readily Gates asks him to do so for the Tigers.

On the other end, Carter’s jumper has to be more reliable. Part of the solution might be paring down how many 3-pointers he takes. Last season against top-100 teams in KenPom, he put up 69 of them — almost doubling his shot volume — and saw a 13-percentage-point dip to 24.6 percent clip. Elevating that number is crucial. If Carter can’t, defenders will sag into gaps or play drop coverage against him ball screens, clogging up passing lines and making reads more challenging.

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 16 NIT - Northern Iowa at Saint Louis

The Role

In recent years, I’ve come to love players that earn the tweener label. Maybe I’ve seen Moneyball a few too times, but guys can play or can’t. Affixing the title to a player is the epitome of looking for a knock. Noah Carter can hoop. Full stop.

Yes, his role is a bit cloudy. Sure, his strengths and weakness mirror an incumbent in Kobe Brown. But when was it wrong to have two of those guys on your roster? And there’s no rule on the books saying just one of them can play at a given time, and I imagine we’ll see them share the floor.

Certain matchups will dictate scaling up, while other nights will demand MU shrink and play fast. And I can see Carter as a potential starter and definitely a member of the rotation. How much time he gets will be determined by how compatible he is with other players at the defensive end. Whether he finishes among the top three in minutes or more conservatively, in the top seven remains to be seen.

As it stands, I project Carter will see somewhere in the neighborhood of 55-60% of minutes. That’s would land him between third and sixth on the team and around 22-24 minutes per night. I’d also expect him to finish with a 23-24% usage rate.

That amounts to a reduced role from UNI days, but that’s expected as an up-transfer on a roster featuring Brown and Isiaih Mosley. Still, it’s fair to assume Carter can average 11 to 13 points per night. Then, of course, injuries or unexpected events can crop up. But we should put stock in Carter’s past performance and efficiency rates, combined with Coach Gates’ established preference to go as many as ten players deep on a given night. I feel these projections will be close.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 07 Washington at Arizona Photo by Chris Coduto/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Carter’s unique offensive profile and physical stature can make finding a comp challenging. However, one player who could fit is Stone Gettings. Gettings played three years at Cornell before transferring to Arizona. He’s two inches taller than Carter, but otherwise, their statistical profiles are eerily similar. Once Gettings arrived in Tucson, usage dropped considerably from 32.4% to 17.3%, while minutes dipped to 43.4% from 65.4%.

That’s par for the course among up-transfers, who trade out minutes and touches to upgrade their program quality. And just important, it’s also how they maintain efficiency that made them an attractive target in the portal. In Gettings’ case, his offensive rating remained relatively steady, dropping only from 110.3 to 106.8. He saw the sixth most minutes on a Wildcat team that finished top 20 of Ken Pomeroy’s ratings before having COVID axe the postseason.

I suspect Carter will see more time and usage than Gettings, as he’s coming into a program with more potential time. As such, he’ll likely post better box score numbers. Otherwise, the profile fits.

The Film

I know what you’re thinking. It seems counterintuitive to start any breakdown of Carter on the perimeter – and in a dribble handoff. I get it. But watch UNI’s system long enough, and you’ll see how elemental it truly is. The action isn’t always complex. At times, Carter would trot to the top of the arc, have the ball flipped to him, and let a jumper go as the defender went under.

He’d often use an initial down screen to get his defender trailing, sprint into the handoff, and rely on the dribbler to set another pindown. As we’ve noted, Carter struggled with his 3-point shot last season, but he made 48 percent of all off-dribble jumpers.

These DHOs are a building block for UNI and Carter. In the first clip, Carter simply turns the corner and drives into a delayed post-up. But the Panthers can layer actions and diversify the forward’s role.

The second clip shows UNI triggering a set with two screeners on the strong side of the floor. Rather than use them, the guard curls and cuts backdoor – and takes a low help defender with him. Carter pivots, takes a stationary handoff, turns tight, and attacks. And in the third clip, UNI used the same zipper action as a bluff before clearing out and allowing Carter to attack from the slot.

Now, a defender has to be aware that Carter will shoot if they go under the screen, but he’s also deft enough to use a ball screen to get moving toward the bucket.

Finally, Jacobson’s system has another devious wrinkle: use Carter to initiate a handoff. In those situations, UNI might have a guard on the same side of a floor bluff setting a down screen. It’s masking a dribble-at action, where an off-ball guard reads the defender who reacts to Carter. He can run the handoff. Or he can bolt backdoor. If it’s the latter, Carter delivers a pinpoint pass.

It’s what makes Carter a connective piece. He can shoot. He can drive and finish. And he can make the correct read when initiating action. And because Carter’s a four-man, his presence inverts the floor, pulling a bigger defender outside and opening up the paint. That’s immensely valuable in Gates’ system. For example, D’Moi Hodge made a living darting along the baseline and off angle cuts for Cleveland State. You can envision Carter facilitating in the same situation.

More than his scoring, Carter’s skill as a ball mover might be his best attribute. When he drives a closeout, he recognizes defenders helping up and dumps the ball to the short corner. He walls off a defender in a handoff to let a guard hoist up a jumper. And he makes on time passes to guards using off-ball screens. None of these plays are complicated. But they mean Gates has smuggled another creator on to the floor.

Even when it seems like Carter’s doing something innocuous, a defense must be aware. Case in point: screening. When opponents used drop coverage to contain pick-and-rolls, Carter’s timing and footwork were exceptional as a roller. Per Synergy data, he averaged 1.136 PPP last season, ranking in the 70th percentile among Division I players.

Let’s say a defense is on its toes and has a help defender tag – or try to redirect – Carter after he sets a screen. Fine. He’s also comfortable as a decision-maker in short-roll situations. He’ll recognize when a defender has helped up the lane and ping a pass to a cutter filling the void.

Over the past decade, posting up has become an antiquated approach for offenses. Yet Carter still makes it work. According to Synergy data, he averaged 1.099 PPP on those plays for his career. Not only that, but Carter had about the same post touches as Rhode Island’s Makhi Mitchell, Southern Miss’ Tyler Stevenson, and Jackson State’s Jayveus McKinnis – all of whom transferred to SEC programs. Carter averaged 1.074 PPP last season, well ahead of Stevenson (0.932) in second place. His most effective move: catching on the left block and working to a hook shot over his left shoulder.

Yet Carter doesn’t need a punch play to score on the block. If a smaller guard switches on to him in a PNR, he’ll crab dribble and bury his man. On other trips, UNI will isolate Carter on an empty side of the floor to get a similar match-up. Or if he’s cut off attacking a spot-up, he’s crafty enough to turn it into a post-up.

It’s worth asking whether Carter’s preferences might affect his shooting percentages. For example, he feels most at home popping out as a guard drives the ball – effectively creating a roll and replace. A close second is popping after setting a ball screen. While his actual shooting mechanics are sound, sometimes his feet aren’t quite set on the catch, or his shot is sped up. Those are easily correctable. And if he trims out some inefficient attempts, it’s not a stretch to think he’d shoot 33% on catch-and-shoots, which is what he did as a sophomore.

Look, if Carter’s spotting up, he’s going to shoot it. But he’ll attack a closeout every third time, and he’s incredibly crafty driving with his left hand. He draws a foul almost half the time. And when he’s not hacked, Carter averages 1.444 points per shot, which blurs the line with a post-up.

Min %: This is simply the percentage of minutes played by a given player.
Usage %: A measure of personal possessions used while player is on the court. This includes making a shot, missing a shot coupled with a defensive rebound and a turnover.
eFG%: Same as traditional FG% with the added bonus of 3-point shots given 50% more weight to account for additional point.
OR%: The percentage of possible offensive rebounds a player gets.
DR%: The percentage of possible defensive rebounds a player gets.
AST%: Assists divided by field goals made by player’s teammates while on the court.
TO%: The percentage of personal possessions a player uses on turnovers.
FTR%: A rate which measures a player’s ability to get to the free throw line.
FT%: Free Throw shooting percentage.
2PT%: 2-point field goal percentage.
3PT% 3-point field goal percentage.