The Tigard senior signs to play college ball at Clemson

by: DAN BROOD - BIRTHDAY GIRL -- Tigard High School senior Lexi Carter, on her 18th birthday, signed a National Letter of Intent to play college basketball at Clemson University. TIGARD — Talk about having a nice birthday.

Lexi Carter sure seemed to enjoy an extraordinary one.

Carter, a Tigard High senior, got to celebrate her 18th birthday with a large gathering of friends, family and well-wishers.

Although, that big group of people all gathered in the small gym at Tigard High on Monday weren’t necessarily there to wish Carter a happy birthday.

More likely, they were all there to celebrate her making her college basketball choice official.

Carter signed her National Letter of Intent to play college basketball at Clemson University, located in Clemson, S.C.

“This is a special day,” Carter said with a smile. “I’m so lucky to have my family, friends and coaches here to share this with me.”

At Monday’s ceremony, Tigard High School girls basketball coach Steve Naylor, Oregon Elite Basketball Club head coach Gary Lavender and former Tigard girls basketball standout Laurie Milligan (now, Laurie Vizzini) spoke about Carter. Her father, Avery Carter, also gave an emotional speech, bringing tears to the eyes of his daughter.

“This was really special,” Lexi Carter said.

And, Clemson very well could be getting a special player.

Carter, a 5-foot-7 guard, has been a key player for Tigard ever since she was a freshman.

Last year, as a Tiger junior, Carter was a first-team All-Pacific Conference selection as she helped Tigard claim the fifth-place trophy at the OSAA Class 6A state tournament.

“We’re really happy for Lexi,” Naylor said. “This is real special and a huge accomplishment for her. She gets to play ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) basketball. That’s some of the best basketball in the country. It’s going to be a great opportunity.”

Carter says she knew immediately that Clemson was going to be the right place for her.

by: DAN BROOD - BIG CROWD -- Tigard High School senior Lexi Carter had a big group of supporters present when she signed her letter of intent.“I knew right away, when I took my visit there,” said Carter, who also took an official visit to West Point Academy. “I had a good feeling right when I stepped on campus. I love the college and I clicked with the team right away. They also have a new coach (Audra Smith) who I really like.”

Carter added that Clemson will be looking for her to play at point guard.

“I can’t wait,” she said of playing at the next level. “I’m going to look to contribute right away. I know I’m going to need to work on my ball-handling and work on my shot.”

“I think she has every chance to be successful and have a great career,” Naylor said. “I think Clemson is going to be very happy with Lexi.”

But, while Carter is looking forward to her collegiate basketball career, there’s something else she wants to take care of first — her senior basketball season at Tigard.

“I’m looking forward to my senior season,” she said. “I want to take care of business here, first.”

And, in the future, Carter may be wearing different colors on the basketball court, but one thing will remain the same.

“Once a Tiger, always a Tiger,” she said with a smile.

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