|Will Carius is following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather when he puts on a Monmouth Scots uniform.
Monmouth athletics photo
By Brian Lester
Will Carius carries a legacy on his shoulders as well as the memory of two cherished loved ones in his heart every time he steps on the court.
In his first season at Monmouth after two years at Division II Northern Michigan, he has found a home at a school that is not only closer to his family in the Quad Cities but a school where both his father and grandfather played basketball.
His grandfather has since passed away. He died the day before Christmas in 2017.
Carius has also had to deal with the loss of his mother right before the start of his senior year of high school. She passed away after a lengthy battle with breast cancer.
In that respect, basketball has always been more than a game to the junior forward. It has also served as an escape from heartbreak, an escape he turned to often, especially after losing his mother.
“Basketball was one way to kind of get away from it and keep your mind off it. It allowed me and my younger brother and sister to focus on something else,” Carius said. “I have always been grateful for that, to have a place to and be with teammates who helped me get through each day.”
No words can describe the loss of a parent. Carius called it one of the hardest things he’s ever had to go through in life.
Yet, he knows his mom would be proud that he’s continued to do what he loves. That he’s continued to live life to the fullest.
“She wouldn’t have wanted us to sit around and be depressed. She would have wanted us to keep doing our best and doing what we love. That’s always been my mindset in sports,” Carius said.
She was likely smiling down from heaven last week.
In a Wednesday night game against Grinnell, Carius carved up the Pioneers for a school-record 62 points. The door to that memorable performance opened because of the Scots’ ability to break Grinnell’s trademark full-court pressure, leading to a lot of layups.
Connecting on 24 of his 26 attempts from the field, including a 10-for-11 effort in the second half, Carius paved the way for Monmouth’s 116-88 victory.
His dad, Brant, a former star for the Scots, told him before the game that he thought he could go off for 50 points against Grinnell. Carius wasn’t so sure about that.
Turns out, he did more against Grinnell than he ever imagined. More than his dad imagined, too, turning in a performance that earned him national attention, including a spot on the D3hoops.com Team of the Week.
“I thought maybe I had scored 40,” Carius said. “I didn’t think I had 62. It was a great night. I was put in a position to score, and I can’t thank my coach and my teammates enough for helping me be successful.”
And the added notoriety?
“I try not to think too much about it or try to do anything different, Carius said. “I'm just glad we got the win. My focus is on picking the team up and helping us turn our season around. That keeps me grounded.”
His father and aunt were both in attendance that night, and the presence of family is something that has meant a great deal to him. It’s one of the reasons he loves being back in the area.
“I have anywhere from two up to 10 family members at a game, and I love it,” Carius said. “It’s cool to see them in the stands and to have their support.”
The thought of being closer to home weighed on him often while playing for the Wildcats. But that doesn’t mean it made the decision easy.
He had success at Northern Michigan, especially as a sophomore when he started all but one game and averaged 12.3 points per outing. As a freshman, he started 10 games before undergoing back surgery.
“I made some great friends up there, so it was hard to leave, but luckily my classes transferred and everything. The transfer couldn’t have gone any better.”
And this season couldn’t go much better, at least from a personal standpoint.
Carius is averaging 24.4 points per game and shooting just over 48 percent (48.3) from the field for a 5-9 Scots team. He’s also pulling down 10.1 rebounds per game and has been a key contributor on defense (11 steals, 16 blocks).
The success doesn't surprise Carius. He's accustomed to playing at a high level. That goes back to his high school days when he earned MVP honors at the state tournament as a senior and was a top contender for Mr. Basketball in Iowa as well that season.
“That gave me a lot of confidence going to the next level,” Carius said. “I've always wanted to play college basketball and have never been scared on any stage of basketball.”
Never mind that this stage here at Monmouth comes with a different feel to it.
He doesn’t remember his grandfather telling him too many stories about his own playing days. They always seemed be about his dad, who graduated from Monmouth as one of the greatest in program history. Brant scored more than 1,000 points and grabbed more than 600 rebounds in his career.
“He usually talked about my dad. He’d brag about him and tell me about all the trouble he had to bail him out of,” Carius said with a laugh. “The really cool thing about playing at the same school is them is that they definitely didn’t sell the school short when they told me how much fun they had when they played here.”
Some might feel overwhelming pressure playing in the shadows of a legacy. That isn’t the case for Carius. He embraces the opportunity.
“There is a little pressure, but at the same time, my dad is positive and wants me to be able to go out and do better than he did. I love the challenge of it and going out and making my own path," Carius said. "I'm thankful for this opportunity. I want to continue to excel."