Jayce Carroll, the missionary who frightened Europe

Few things can paralyze the atmosphere prior to the semifinals of the Endesa League.

Jayce Carroll, the missionary who frightened Europe

Few things can paralyze the atmosphere prior to the semifinals of the Endesa League. Real Madrid faced Baskonia in the second match of the tie, but everyone present at the WiZink Center paled before the initial jump, and it wasn't because of Heurtel's return to a call-up after two months of suspension. Like a forgotten hero, one of those whose whereabouts are believed to be unknown or even dead, Jaycee Carroll (Wyoming, United States, 1983) reappeared on the Madrid parquet after more than a year in anonymity. The player, still under contract with the whites, evaporated in the summer of 2021. He did not attend the team's preseason to live his new dream, having already fulfilled the goal of subjugating European basketball for a decade.

The escort bunkered on his ranch in Utah, Mormon state, to raise Wagyus (a succulent beef species), build a barn before winter, and spend more time with his wife, Baylee, and their four children. The latest extravagance of a player who is one of the brightest deities on Real Madrid's wall of gods: a foreign player with the most white games (709, only surpassed overall by Felipe Reyes) and the fourth highest scorer in history of the team, 7,732 congratulations basketed in 11 seasons, in which, in addition, he has lifted 20 titles. There were doubts about whether the stands would thank him for the past or reproach him for the present. A resounding applause accompanied Carroll on the day of his retirement.

Cold as an iceberg on the track and with incandescent shooting mechanics like few others, Carroll's origins do not match the precise assassin he has been when he has had a ball in his hands. After spending his childhood in the American tundras and standing out in high school leagues, at the age of 19, when everyone was waiting for him to jump into college basketball, he picked up his backpack, gave up his dream (playing for the Chicago Bulls) and became a missionary for two years, one of the possibilities offered by his religion, the Mormon. Looking bucolic, he ended up ringing the millions of bells that make up Santiago de Chile. Isolated (he was only allowed to talk to his family twice a year), he got up early to study the sacred texts, went out to preach, returned late at night and, very occasionally, threw a few baskets on the public courts. of the Chilean capital. An experience that, as he always remembers, made him become the player who would later amaze Europe. "Being a missionary helped me to have discipline and set goals for myself," he acknowledged a few years ago in an interview with ABC.

Matured, he returned to Utah, Mormon territory par excellence and bordering his home state. In the institution he was a star, where he became his all-time leading scorer. His brilliant performances were not enough to open the doors of the NBA for him and, as in so many other cases, Europe was his destiny. After a year at Banca Termas and two seasons at Gran Canaria (2009-2011), he found his place in the world. At Real Madrid he was glory, one of the most important players in the Pablo Laso project. Hundreds of memory baskets and exhibitions that decanted titles were building a statue that few can overshadow. Laso, before the game against Baskonia, reviewed the American's career. "As a coach, I've had good times and bad times with Jaycee, just like everyone else. The best memory is the security he gave me in the preseason, we knew he would measure up. According to legend, the shooting guard shot close to 25,000 shots during the summer holidays before returning to the team.

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