Sincere Carry to honor close friend with new jersey number

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Sincere Carry crashing towards the rim during a game against the Saint Louis Billikens at the A.J. Palumbo Center last season.
Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Sincere Carry crashing towards the rim during a game against the Saint Louis Billikens at the A.J. Palumbo Center last season.

Adam Lindner | Staff Writer

Oct. 10, 2019

Duquesne’s basketball history, dating back more than one century, has been graced with the likes of numerous great players. 2019 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Chuck Cooper was a Duke from 1946-1950, while Sihugo Green averaged a double-double in 1954-55, helping the program to a 1955 National Invitational Tournament championship title. Willie Somerset, a 5-foot-8 guard, averaged 22.7 points during his tenure at Duquesne, setting a program record that still stands to this day. The list goes on.

Six of Duquesne’s greatest players’ numbers have been immortalized by the program — the digits of Cooper, Green, Somerset, Dick Ricketts and Norm Nixon were each retired during a 2001 ceremony, while Mike James’ No. 13 was retired in 2017.

No more.

While Cooper (No. 15), Green (No. 11), Somerset (No. 24), Ricketts (No. 12) and James’ numbers remain officially immortalized by the program, Nixon’s No. 10 will be donned by a Duquesne player in 2019-20 for the first time since the jersey’s retirement. Sincere Carry, a rising sophomore point guard at DU, garnered the two-time NBA All-Star’s blessing.

Carry’s transition from No. 35, which he wore during his standout freshman campaign, to No. 10 began when he decided he wanted to honor his close friend, Khalil “Champ” Hopson, who passed away this past spring at age 24. At first, Carry looked into wearing No. 24 — signifying each year Hopson was alive — but the number was retired for Somerset. That’s when Carry, an Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team selection in 2018-19, got to brainstorming.

“I’m wearing No. 10 this year,” Carry told The Duke on Oct. 1. “I was trying to find a number to represent my cousin, who was more like a big brother to me, [who] passed away. He died at 24, so I was going to wear No. 24, but that number was retired.

“Then, ‘Coach D’ (Keith Dambrot) got in contact with Norm Nixon, and he was nice enough to say that he would un-retire it so I could wear it.”

Hopson, who Carry described as “more like a big brother” to him, wore No. 10 during his playing days at Sharon High School.

Carry said he’s planning on dedicating his basketball career to Hopson.

During The Duke’s conversation with Carry on Oct. 1, the stud ball-handler’s jersey number alteration was discussed, as well as a bevy of other topics.

The full Q & A, transcribed below, has been edited for briefness and clarity.

The Duke: You had some Nike KD 4’s, one of your favorite pairs of shoes, that tore in last season’s game against UIC. Do you have any ideas for what sorts of footwear you’ve got on deck for this season?

Carry: I got another pair (of KD 4’s); not the same ones, I got some different colors. But I was looking up some old Kobe’s, and I try to mix in some old LeBron’s, since him and ‘Coach D’ have a great relationship. I’ve always been into shoes since I was little.


TD: Favorite basketball player, all-time or current?

Carry: Kobe Bryant.


TD: Describe your freshman season in one word.

Carry: Rollercoaster.


TD: You played football in high school, and you were a particularly sturdy force in the backcourt as a freshman. How did football prepare you for your freshman season?

Carry: I wouldn’t even say it was football. I’ve faced a lot of knee injuries — nothing like I had this year, that was really nothing. I had one back in either my freshman or sophomore year (of high school), but I was out a lot. I had to get screws in my knees, and it just took a lot of time to heal. All I could do was upper-body lifting. That was the year we got a weight room in our basement, so I was in there every day. Just lifting, bench pressing, doing all upper-body.


TD: You had some trouble with your knees at certain points this past season. How did your knees treat you this summer?

Carry: I have no problems. I’ve been able to do everything. I haven’t sat out once. We’re on the right track.


TD: Do you have any favorite spots in the Pittsburgh area?

Carry: Every once in a while, my sister will come up and see me. We’ll go to TopGolf. We both aren’t any good, but it just gets us away from the world.


TD: How was the Bahamas, and are you excited to go back in November?

Carry: The Bahamas was fun. It was great to bond with my teammates and see a different type of world. I think it was good to play against the teams down there, and we just bonded. We had fun. In November, it won’t be like that. It’ll be more of a business trip, but I’m still excited to go.


TD: You met NBA star Lou Williams in the Bahamas. Did anything he tell you stick with you?

Carry: He just told us to keep working. You never know how a person’s life will change over a year. But he said we’re on the right path, whether we in the NBA or not. We’re doing the right thing, just stay in school and get an education.


TD: With the UPMC Chuck Cooper Fieldhouse undergoing renovations, has it been odd practicing in the Power Center? How do you like it, and do you miss the Palumbo Center?

Carry: We all miss the Palumbo. We all have to share that little gym. Like, this morning, the girls were in there until 8 a.m., and we start practice at 8:20 a.m., so usually I get up at 7 a.m. and go in there to work out before practice. But, we have to share the gym, so it’s hard to find time. Even if you go in there at nighttime, it’s hard to find time, but I think we all adjusted to it. We’re all working it out.


TD: Are you excited for the Cooper Fieldhouse next year?

Carry: Yeah. I’ve seen pictures of it. The whole gym looks nice.


TD: The thing you’re most excited about regarding the upcoming NBA season?

Carry: I’m a D’Angelo Russell fan, so I want to see how he’s going to work with Steph Curry and the Warriors.


TD: How much more comfortable are you now compared to your freshman year?

Carry: It’s pretty much all the same, but I’m way more comfortable. Last year, I didn’t know what I was going into. I noticed yesterday, our first day of practice, the pace was calm and I could see our freshmen struggling with the pace. That was me last year, but now, since I played a lot of games my freshman year, I’m more calm and collected. They are going to adjust to it, you’ve just gotta get out there. It’s not anything you just watch. You have to play through it.


TD: How has it been getting to know the freshmen?

Carry: It’s good. I think, with me knowing Maceo (Austin) — since we come from the same area, that helps a lot. But I’m also vibing with all the other freshmen, too. They all can play, so it’ll be the same as last year. Everybody’s going to play.


TD: How has practice been thus far? I know you just started yesterday.

Carry: It’s been good. Everybody’s on the same page. We all want to win championships. The intensity, tempo and energy in the gym, it all has been great.


TD: What have you been focusing on this offseason?

Carry: Expanding my jumper. They changed the 3-point line (back to FIBA’s 22 ft. 1¾ inch mark from the traditional NCAA length of 20 ft. 9 inches), so I’ve spent a lot of time on that, getting a lot of reps up. Just staying consistent with it. I should be comfortable.


TD: Any specific goals for the upcoming season?

Carry: Just winning as many games as possible, and making it to March Madness and the A-10 Tournament.


TD: Who are your role models?

Carry: My sister.