He has that winning smile, a humble manner, and let's not forget incredible talent. Vince Carter, a forward with the Toronto Raptors, is the leading vote-getter for this Sunday's NBA All-Star Game in Oakland, Calif. (he was named on 1.9 million of the 3.9 million fan ballots). In his second year as a pro, Carter is making his all-star debut for the Eastern Conference team. As the main attraction, he's feeling some pressure. "He's a little nervous," says teammate Antonio Davis. "Everybody is putting so much pressure on him and expecting so much from him. I just pray that he goes out there and has fun...."
Q: Where did Carter first gain notice as a basketball player?
A: At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, whose most famous alumnus is Michael Jordan. At North Carolina, the 6 ft., 7 in., Carter blew away the competition with his jaw-dropping dunk shots, leaps, and high-scoring ability. After his junior year, he took an early bounce into the NBA. So far as a pro player, he is averaging 24 points a game and is leading the Raptors (third place out of eight teams in the Central Division) to a winning record and a possible playoff spot.
Q: What were some of Carter's other early interests?
A: There is a musical side to him. In fifth grade, he played the saxophone. At Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, Fla., Carter wrote poetry and assisted in writing the school's homecoming song. He was a drum major and played baritone in the school's marching band.
But it was basketball that got him notice. Fans, amazed by his athleticism and dunking ability on the court, nicknamed him "UFO."
All-Star Note: Fans will not only be able to watch Carter play in Sunday's all-star game, they'll be able to hear him. The Raptors star will be one of several players fitted with microphones during the telecast (NBC, Sunday, Feb. 13, 6:30 p.m.).
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