Carter Arey brings young talent to U.S. wheelchair basketball

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:56 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2014
MU wheelchair basketball player Carter Arey, along with the rest of the U.S. Men's Wheelchair Basketball Team, held an open scrimmage Tuesday night at the MU Student Recreation Complex in preparation for this weekend's Men's Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in Incheon, South Korea.

COLUMBIA — Ron Lykins, the Team USA and Missouri wheelchair basketball coach, spotted Carter Arey at the MU Student Recreation Complex four years ago.

Arey was attending Moberly Area Community College at the time.

But Lykins had other ideas.

He suggested Arey transfer to MU and play for the school's wheelchair basketball team.

Now Arey scrimmages for Team USA in the same gym Lykins saw him in years ago.

Arey, along with the other members of the U.S. Men's Wheelchair Basketball Team, were part of an open scrimmage Tuesday night at the MU rec complex in preparation for this weekend's Men's Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in Incheon, South Korea.

Beth Arey, Carter Arey's mother, wore a red, white and blue crown with "USA" on the front to cheer on her son Tuesday. She was one of many of the Arey family to attend Tuesday's scrimmage.

"We have aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, friends and more here tonight," Beth Arey said.

More than 100 people filled the stands for Tuesday's open scrimmage.

Most of Carter Arey's teammates have more than his four years of experience. But Arey doesn't let that hurt his confidence.

"He is the baby on the team, but he's learning a lot," Beth Arey said.

Even with the difference in experience, Carter Arey said he was honored to be chosen to be a part of the U.S. team.

"To make this team, for this country, with this group of guys was a thrill. It has taken a lot of hard work, but it'll be fun," he said.

It's rare for Arey to play a game that doesn't have a lot of friends or family cheering him on.

"I couldn't ask for better parents. They went to South America to watch a basketball game that I barely played in. So that gives you an idea of how supportive they are," Arey said.

Arey said Tuesday he also sees himself as an advocate for wheelchair basketball.

"It (wheelchair basketball) deserves it. It's that cool of a sport. There is so much talent in this sport," Arey said.

"He is a very goal-driven person. One of his goals when he first started wheelchair basketball was: I'm going to play for Mizzou, and then I'm going to try out for Team USA, and then I'm going to play for Team USA," his fiancee, Lauren Okruch, said.

Now, having accomplished those things, Arey said he hopes "to make this streak continue" and make the U.S. team again to compete in the 2016 Paralympics.

"It's satisfying to see a guy like Carter, who's only played four years, who's put in the work, who has the talent, make the team," Lykins said.

Carter Arey's parents and fiancee will be going to South Korea to see the world championships starting Saturday. The championships run through July 14.

"To have them there in the midst of thousands of fans will be cool, spotting them out and give them a wave, that'll be cool," Carter Arey said.

Supervising editor is Raymond Howze.

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