BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Western Kentucky University legend Darel Carrier will be honored at the Hilltopper men's basketball game against ULM on February 22, when a jersey bearing his number 35 will be retired.
Carrier will become the eighth person affiliated with WKU men's basketball to have his jersey retired, joining E.A. Diddle, Clem Haskins, Tom Marshall, Jim McDaniels, John Oldham, Carlisle Towery and Bobby Rascoe in the row of ceremonial jerseys hanging in the rafters of E.A. Diddle Arena.
Carrier excelled on the court for the Hilltoppers from 1962-64, scoring a remarkable 1,318 points in just 69 games over three seasons, the sixth-highest total for a Hilltopper cager at the time and still 18th among the 48 men who have scored 1,000-plus points during their careers on The Hill. Interestingly, of the 17 athletes ahead of Carrier on that list, 12 played at least 100 games and all 17 played in 76 or more contests.
His career scoring average (19.10 ppg) was the third-best for a WKU player at the time he completed his eligibility, and that number still ranks fifth among all Hilltoppers. Carrier’s 26.0 scoring average as a senior was the highest ever posted by a Hilltopper and still second only to Jim McDaniels’ 29.3 ppg in the 1970-71 season. His 50-point outburst at Morehead State on Feb. 11, 1964, was the second-highest single-game total ever for a Hilltopper, and it still ranks as one of just three 50-point efforts in the WKU record books (Clem Haskins tallied 55 versus Middle Tennessee in 1965 and Art Spoelstra scored 52 against Morehead in 1953). However, Carrier’s 50 is still the most ever for a Hilltopper in a road game.
“Unfortunately, I did not see Darel Carrier play,” WKU Director of Athletics Todd Stewart commented. “But those I know who did see him absolutely glow about his great talent, and, even more so, about the way he played the game. He ranks high in our record books despite being limited to three years of varsity play due to NCAA rules at the time. I think it goes without saying that Darel belongs up there with our other retired jersey honorees. On behalf of all of us in the Department of Athletics, I thank him for his long-term support of WKU and Hilltopper athletics, and I congratulate him and his family.”
The Bowling Green, Ky., native earned All-America honors as a senior in 1964, and he was a three-time All-Ohio Valley Conference selection. He was named to the Ohio Valley Conference 40th Anniversary Team in 1988 as part of that league's celebration of 40 seasons of competition. Carrier was a member of the third class to be inducted into the WKU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.
The 76th pick (4th pick in the 9th round) in the 1964 NBA Draft (St. Louis Hawks), he played for the famed Phillips 66ers before finishing out his pro career in the American Basketball Association (ABA) with the Kentucky Colonels (1967-72) and the Memphis Sounds (1971-72). Carrier found the ABA’s three-point field goal to his liking and earned a reputation as one of the great shooters ever to play the game. He scored 1,431 points with the Colonels and was one of only three athletes in club history (along with Dan Issel and Artis Gilmore) to average 20-plus points per game (20.8; and a high game of 53, bettered just once). For his efforts, he has been selected as a member of the All-Time ABA Team.
Following his professional career, Carrier returned to Warren County where he and his wife Donna live north of Bowling Green not far from the old Bristow High School where he was a three-time All-Stater (first team as a senior in 1960, second team in ‘59 and honorable mention in ‘58).