Skim through Wednesday night's college basketball scores, and you might have the same two questions I did a few minutes ago.
Who on earth are the Huston-Tillotson Rams and why would 21st-ranked Baylor schedule them three weeks into league play?
The answer is much wackier than the Bears merely seeking a confidence-building blowout in the midst of the rugged Big 12 slate. Baylor associate director for athletic communications David Kaye said Wednesday night that coach Scott Drew initially scheduled the Austin-based NAIA school in hopes the game would be featured in an upcoming movie.
Ken Carter, the coach whose life story inspired the 2005 film "Coach Carter," opened a basketball academy three years ago 30 miles south of Baylor's campus. He has since struck up a good enough relationship with the Baylor program that he visits practice on occasion.
"There was a plan for [Carter] to play for Huston-Tillotson this year at age 56," Kaye said via email. "There are plans for a second movie, and Baylor provided a big-time college opponent to feature Huston-Tillotson playing against in the movie."
Kaye said Baylor initially agreed to host the game as a favor to Carter and because coach Scott Drew thought it would be a fun experience for his players to appear in a movie. Baylor honored its contract to host the game even though Carter's plan to play for Huston-Tillotson fell through and no movie footage was filmed.
Why would a 56-year-old coach try to play college basketball? What kept him from suiting up for Huston-Tillotson? And what's the status of the second movie? None of that is clear at this point because Carter did not immediately return messages seeking comment. He did attend Wednesday night's game, however, even snapping photos with Baylor players after the Bears' 81-61 victory.
What initially made Carter's story worthy of a movie starring Samuel Jackson was his drive to improve the lives of his players.
In 1999, Carter locked the undefeated high school team he coached out of the gym and banned them from all basketball-related activities because they were not performing as well in the classroom as they promised in contracts they signed earlier in the semester. The Richmond, Calif., community initially vilified Carter for his decision but ultimately came to appreciate his tactics.
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