The chance for Baylor to reel in its first McDonald's All-American was enticing, as well.
Four years later, what the two have done for each other is pretty close to remarkable. Carter's reputation as a big-time talent – the unofficial all-time leading scorer in the U.S. after scoring 7, 457 points in six high school seasons -- and his unflappable personality have paved the way for other talented players to join a Baylor program that earlier this decade was rocked by murder and scandal.
The 5-foot- 11 Carter, meanwhile, is largely the cornerstone of the renaissance of the Baylor program (25-7), which is in the NCAA tournament as an all-time high No. 3 seed in the South Regional. They will take on 14th seeded Sam Houston State (25-7) during Thursday's first round at the New Orleans Arena with a chance to advance for the first time since 1950.
"When he came to Baylor that opened a lot more recruiting doors for us," said Baylor coach Scott Drew. "A lot of the players on the team today are here because when they came on their visit, they spent time with Tweety, they liked him and wanted to play with him. So he's meant a tremendous amount to our team.
"As far as basketball-wise, if you look at this year, he's led the Big 12 in assists. He scores for us. He defends for us. He does a lot for us. But most of all probably his leadership and the intangibles about what a great individual he is are things that you can't put down on paper. But I know our players would run through a wall for him."
And if you know Carter, you'd know he would do the same for them.
As big as his reputation is as a game-breaker who scores with the best and plays unselfishly, it has been his ability to relate to his teammates and to foster a team environment that has produced one of the best basketball seasons ever.
He's a good good dude," said Baylor junior guard LaceDarius Dunn. "He's like a brother to me."
"He's that man, he's that guy on our team," said BU junior forward Ekpe Udoh, who transferred in from Michigan two years ago. We go as he goes. If he's not here this year, we wouldn't have the success that we've had.
"He does a great job with his energy. He's been here the longest. When he talks to you, you have to listen because he's been through it."
It's easy to get the feeling that such praise along with the high achievement of the Bears during his four years has made the unusual journey that brought Carter to Baylor.
Baylor is playing in its third straight postseason since Carter's arrival, making the NCAA tournament two years ago for the first time in 20 years and then last season they made it all the way to the NIT championship game.
The Bears followed that up with an impressive season in the Big 12 this year in what was supposed to be a rebuilding campaign. And now Baylor is back in the NCAA tournament with a better than a shooters chance of advancing deep into the tournament.
"This was the reason why I came here," said Carter, who is originally from New Orleans and went to high school at Reserve Christian School in Reserve, La. "I committed at the beginning of my junior year. I gave everything to them, they gave everything to me.
"I came here to be a part of something special and be a part of a changing program. I think it's happened. Every year we improve from our freshman year to my senior year. You know, as long as we continue to fight together and stay together, you know, success will take care of itself. "
The magic for Carter is that success could begin in a state where his high school career began and place where he once scored 74 points in a game. It's just the second time since heading to Baylor that he's had a chance to play in Louisiana.
"For me, it's a blessing, especially to be back home," said Carter, who is averaging 15.7 points and 6.11 rebounds for the Bears this season. "It's great to be back home and to play in front of my home fans.
"But we've also got to know that we came up here to take care of business. Step one is the game tomorrow. So we've just got to take one game at a time. But a first win for Baylor would be huge for this program. We didn't come up here just to win one game. We've come up here to win games. And that's what we've worked to do all season long. So we're going to continue to do that."