Portland State coach Heath Schroyer said it once, and he'll say it again:
'He's a rising star in this business.'
He's talking about first-year assistant coach Senque (pronounced 'Sin-cue') Carey.
It's flattering for Carey to hear, who laughs when he says of Schroyer: 'He's a great boss; he knows talent.'
Carey goes through every day pleased simply to be rising Ñ out of bed, from the chair in his office and from the bench alongside Schroyer and fellow assistants Steve Gosar and Fred Langley.
For two weeks in late 2002, Carey couldn't rise at all. While playing for New Mexico, Carey suffered a spinal cord injury during a game on Nov. 25, 2002, that left him partially paralyzed. Carey took a charge, fell backward on his hands and 'snapped my neck back.' He regained feeling in his arms and hands within hours, got movement above his waist the next morning and finally felt his toes wiggle two weeks later.
He could stand up and walk again. But he had to undergo surgeries to remove a bulging disc in his spine and fuse the spine in the neck area. He sat on the New Mexico bench the rest of 2002-03 but never played again. He served as a graduate assistant there last season under former Oregon State and PSU coach Ritchie McKay.
Schroyer hired Carey, 26, for his first real job. Carey spends much of his time recruiting and working with Viking point guard Will Funn Ñ watching film, practicing moves, shooting, teamwork and decision making.
'I do like it. I like it a lot,' says Carey, on his first foray into coaching. 'At first it was hard (last year) because I was trying to decide whether to pursue playing.'
The 6-4 Carey, who prepped in East Palo Alto, Calif., went to Washington for two years, where he earned freshman all-Pac-10 honors and averaged 10 points and five assists as a sophomore before going to New Mexico.
After his life-changing injury, Carey says, 'I just tried to get back into shape and see how I felt.' Later, he had open-ended offers to attend NBA tryouts from three teams, but 'my body wasn't 100 percent; I told them, 'Thank you, but no thank you.' '
He doesn't play basketball any longer. 'I'm still rehabbing,' says Carey, who moves his upper body stiffly. 'I don't do that much running. I thought I was feeling good, and then I played racquetball with Coach Gosar, and he beat me 21-3. I thought, 'It had to be the injury.'
'I don't want to even risk it. Having to fight back from what I had to fight back from É it's a long road.'