Darel Carrier’s new home just outside of Bowling Green features an expansive workout room in the basement. Upstairs there’s a display of many of the mementos from his distinguished college and pro basketball careers. He enjoys giving visitors a detailed tour of the home, right down to the insulation
The handsome, two-story house is a far cry from his humble beginnings in Warren County.
His family's house growing up lacked electricity or a bathroom until he was a teen, but Carrier found a way to sharpen his basketball skills.
“I saved up enough money to buy my first ball and goal. It was a little lace up ball and a goal for $3.99. I put it on the side of a corn crib and I shot with my little ball through that goal for two or three days,” said Carrier. “My ball went over the fence and a big ol’ hog took a bite of it. That was the last of my ball.”
Then, he improvised.
“My mother would open been cans or something, and I’d take a little tin can and shoot through that hoop. I’d make me rag-balls and shoot through that hoop. I didn’t get any dribbling in, but I got a lot of shooting in,” he said.
Carrier eventually tripled his investment, spending nine dollars for a regulation ball and hoop. Even then, his work ethic was relentless.
“Mother would say, ‘supper is ready, c’mon eat your good hot meal,’ and I said ‘I’ll be in in a minute', but I would just keep shootin’ and keep shootin’ and usually eat a cold meal because I wanted to keep shootin’ the ball.”
Those shooting skills served him well. He starred at Bristow High School before enrolling at Western Kentucky, where he would climb into the school’s record books. In 69 career games with the Hilltoppers, Carrier averaged 19 point a game – third best when he left school and still fifth in the history of the program. He scored 50 points in a game against Morehead State on February 11, 1964, only the third player in WKU history to score 50. That year, he earned All-America honors.
On Saturday night, the WKU Athletic program will honor Carrier by retiring his No. 35 jersey at halftime. He’ll be the eighth person so-honored by the men’s basketball program, a distinction also given to Carrier’s coach, E.A. Diddle.
“He turned me loose, and what I mean by that is that he liked my game and he let me shoot the ball and it was a great experience,” said Carrier. “I didn’t win as many ballgames the last two years as I would have liked to have won, but I had a great career at Western.”
After college, Carrier spent several years with the amateur Phillips 66ers. With that team, he traveled the world playing basketball in 23 different countries.
“We went to some very poor countries: North Africa and Tunisia and places like that. Families would live under tents…they were just really poor. It made me appreciate being from Western Kentucky and being from Bowling Green,” said Carrier.
Carrier would also play internationally in the Pan Am Games in 1967, helping team USA to a 9-0 record and a gold medal. He would spend his entire pro career in the ABA, beginning with the Kentucky Colonels from 1967 to 1972 and the Memphis Sound for one season
He was an ABA all-star three times and was eventually named one of the top 30 players in ABA history, and one of the top 25 shooting guards of all time. Not only did his endless childhood hours shooting hoops pay dividends in the pros, so too did his farming experience.
“When I was with the Colonels, I also managed the owners’ farm, they had a big five-to-six hundred acre farm and he and I bought cattle together,” said Carrier. “So I had a little more than a contract with the Kentucky Colonels. I had a contract with the owners where we went out and bought cattle. Half the cattle was mine, half was the owner’s. I also raised tobacco crop and put up hay.”
After his playing days, Carrier has spent decades in the business world. He’s been a real estate broker, he sells antiques, and he’s an auctioneer.
It’s been 50 years since his last game at Western and fans at Diddle Arena Saturday night will see Carrier take his place among the best basketball players ever to wear the Hilltopper red, as his No. 35 jersey is raised to the rafters.