If you or I went up to Lisa Smittcamp after a hard workout and wiped our sweaty shirt on the Fresno County district attorney, we’d probably get charged with assault.
Terrell Carter II does it with regularity. And how does Smittcamp react? By smiling and giving Carter a big hug.
Don’t believe me? Pay close attention when the final buzzer sounds following Saturday’s Fresno State men’s basketball home finale against Wyoming. That’s when Carter, the Bulldogs’ lovable, huggable big man, does his best work.
In what has become tradition, Carter makes a point of greeting Fresno State fans after every home game. Before heading to the locker room, the 6-foot-10, 290-pounder gives out hugs and high-fives and poses for pictures. Bulldogs fans love Carter for that, and he loves them right back.
Carter’s first stop is always Smittcamp, who has season tickets in the front row near midcourt. Smittcamp’s husband, Brent, and their two kids are usually there, too. They each get the same treatment and break into the same beaming smiles.
“We love ourselves some Terrell,” Smittcamp says. “My whole family is just drawn to him.”
“He’s so big and yet so gentle with the children,” Bulldogs fan Robyn Marootian adds. “He teases the children in such a kind way. He’s just lovable.”
There’s a reason why whenever Carter scores in the post, Save Mart Center erupts in the loudest cheers.
Twenty years from now, no one will remember Terrell Carter II averaged a modest 5.8 points and 2.5 rebounds during his senior season. But legions of Fresno State fans will remember how he took the time to greet them and make them feel special. Time doesn’t fade those kinds of memories.
Once Bulldogs fans take an athlete into their collective hearts, they inhabit that space forever.
Just ask Tyrone Bradley. A fan favorite during his time at Fresno State in the early 1980s, including Boyd Grant’s NIT-champion squad of 1983, “T-Bone” never left Fresno after his playing days. Since 1996 Bradley has worked for Clovis Unified School District, currently as a student relations liaison at Alta Sierra Intermediate.
Bradley doesn’t know Carter well, but he understands completely what I’m getting at.
“I was only (in college) for four years, but the love from this community lasts a lifetime,” Bradley says. “I see people who are 80 to 85 years old that still have smiles on their faces when they see me.”
Although he’s a foot shorter than Carter and (at least in his playing days) 100 pounds lighter, Bradley sees the resemblance.
“He’s a big, lovable kid,” Bradley says. “I guarantee after he’s done playing there’s going to be a lot of people wanting to help him out, just like they did for me. I guarantee that.”
What makes Terrell Carter II so lovable? It starts with a warm, outgoing personality, something he inherited from his mother, Shervette Bryant, and his great-grandmother, Vierra White.
Then there’s his general good nature. If Carter ever has a bad day, he doesn’t show it. Also on the palette are advanced communication skills, gratitude and wisdom far beyond what you find in most 22-year-olds.
“I tell people all the time that I’m just a big kid myself,” he says. “I love having fun. I remember how it was when we used to have talent shows and have visitors come to our school. I used to love that. I always hoped that one day I’d be in position to do the same thing. God works in mysterious ways.”
No one told Carter to greet Bulldogs fans after games. It’s just something he did naturally and prods others to do the same.
When Lazaro Rojas scored his first career points during Saturday’s victory over Colorado State, Carter grabbed the redshirt freshman center and had him join the postgame high-five and hug parade.
“Somebody’s got to take that torch when I leave,” Carter says. “You never know what that can do for somebody. Just me living my life, I never know how many people I can affect. You always want to be thankful for the people that support you.”
Carter has a way of endearing himself to people, even when their relationship starts on the wrong foot.
His friendship with Smittcamp is a great example. The Fresno County DA is a frequent guest of Bulldogs coach Rodney Terry, who invites her to speak with his players about staying out of trouble.
One such talk came during Carter’s freshman season. During which he fell sound asleep.
“I went up to him, got in his face and said, ‘Am I boring you, Mr. Carter?’ ” Smittcamp recalls.
From that snoozy start sprouted an unlikely friendship. Smittcamp now regards Carter and Bryant, who recently moved from Los Angeles to Fresno to help take care of Carter’s 1-year-old daughter Marlee, as close family friends.
Smittcamp even leans on Carter for advice on everything from parenting to how to interact on social media. And when “Ms. Lisa” (as he calls her as a sign of respect and affection) nervously tried cryotherapy for the first time – taking the advice of Carter, who goes for regular treatments – he and Bryant showed up at her appointment to lend moral support.
“Terrell’s just probably the most positive person I’ve ever met in my whole life,” Smittcamp says. “It’s been a blessing for me and my family to get to know him.”
A communications major, Carter is on track to graduate following spring semester and one summer-school course. He wants to try for a career in pro basketball, probably overseas.
But when that ends, or if it doesn’t work out, the big, huggable Bulldogs fan favorite envisions himself living back in Fresno.
Where he’ll be eternally loved.
“There’s no better feeling,” Carter says. “I just want to make sure everybody feels as comfortable as they can.”
Around him, they do.
WYOMING AT FRESNO STATE
- Saturday: 7 p.m. at Save Mart Center
- TV/radio: ESPN3/KFIG (AM ESPN 940), KGST (AM ESPN Deportes 1600)
- Records: Bulldogs 20-8, 10-5 Mountain West; Cowboys 17-11, 8-7
- Of note: The Cowboys absorbed a costly 119-114 loss to New Mexico on Tuesday, falling out of a tie for fourth in the Mountain West Conference. Wyoming hit 57.8 percent of its shots including 56.5 percent at the 3-point line, but its defense was … not good. New Mexico went into the game seventh in the conference in field goal percentage (44.4) and third in scoring (80.6 ppg) points, and hit 37 of 60 shots (61.7 percent) in putting up the most points it has this season against a Division I opponent. The Lobos opened the season with a 147-76 victory over Northern New Mexico. The Cowboys have lost four of six, a streak that started with an 80-62 loss to the Bulldogs on Feb. 3 in Laramie. Fresno State held Justin James, the Cowboys’ leading scorer at 18.7 ppg, to just nine points. James was 3 of 10, 2 of 5 at the 3-point line.