Catching up with Carl Arts (Basketball)
After winning a state title at Valdez High School and becoming an All-American at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Carl Arts enjoyed the kind of success where he hoped to play professionally.
His first shot with the ABA’s Alaska Dream didn’t pan out.
But he struck gold in Australia.
Arts, 24, excelled in his rookie season with the Southern Peninsula Sharks of the national league’s first division – just one step below the Aussie equivalent of the NBA. The 6-foot-5 forward averaged a PlayStation-like 29.4 points and 14.9 rebounds a game.
What, you go Down Under and turn into Wilt Chamberlain?
“No, it wasn’t quite like that,” Arts said with a laugh. “But I pretty much could do whatever I wanted to. Even if I had an off night, I was still getting 26, 28 points a game.”
Despite his monster numbers, the Sharks lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Still, Arts proved he is more than ready for the next step.
He got back to Alaska last week and I caught up with him to talk about his experience in Australia.
Question: How did your team do?
Answer: We did pretty well. We ended up fifth place out of 12 teams and we ended up going to the playoffs, but we lost to the fourth-place team.
Q: How did it compare to college ball?
A: Uh, the level of play was probably a step lower because there are quite a few older players in their late 30s. So, I mean, as far as the pace of the game and stuff like that, it wasn’t very fast. It was more of a slowed-down, half-court game. You didn’t see anybody full-court pressing you or anything like that.
Q: Did you enjoy taking those older guys to school?
A: At the beginning it was fun because I got to score a lot of points and that kind of stuff, but I kind of got my full after that. I was just waiting for better competition. It was alright. It was a foot in the door.
Q: What was your season high for points?
A: I had a game mid-season where I had 47 points. I was like 19 of 25 from the floor and like 4 of 5 on 3-pointers. I was definitely playing really well. All my shots were dropping.
Q: And rebounds?
A: It was 22 or 21, I can’t remember for sure.
Q: Where did you live?
A: It was called Rosebud. It was a town about 50 miles from Melbourne, where Luke (Cooper) lives.
Q: What was Rosebud like?
A: It was pretty small. They had a McDonald’s and a KFC, but other than that it was just a lot of local businesses and that kind of stuff. It was like living in a hotter Valdez.
Q: Was being a pro everything you thought it would be?
A: Well, it wasn’t quite exactly what I was expecting because it was so low key as far as the atmosphere at the games and stuff like that. But my first pro game there was pretty fun.
Q: Do you plan on going back to Australia?
A: Yeah. Right now I’m working on it, calling coaches. Hopefully I can get a contract and go play at a higher level. If not then I’ll probably just stay here and go back to school.