Don Carey’s decision to transfer to Maryland men’s basketball at the beginning of the season left the guard in a familiar spot: forced to adjust to a new collegiate program, a new coach and a new system.
His only season with the Terps will cap a six-year collegiate career that started in northern Maryland at Mount St. Mary’s and has seen him transfer three different times — first to Siena, then to Georgetown and finally to College Park.
The guard has taken time to settle in with the Terps but has found success in recent games, just in time for Maryland’s postseason.
“[Carey] attacked this year with great professionalism,” coach Kevin Willard said. “I think he understood that he wasn’t going to have as big of a role as he did at Georgetown or maybe the previous stops.”
Carey’s experience at different levels has taught him the differences between the level of play in the Northeast and Metro Atlantic Athletic conferences, where he began his college career, compared to the competition in the Big East and Big Ten.
Physicality and pace were the main differences Carey noticed as he played at higher levels. To adjust to each new team and conference, he had to adapt.
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“One, you grow as a man, but two, you’ve been at four different institutions. You really just learn to adapt to your environment,” Carey said. “You gotta adapt quick … That may be one of the biggest things that I learned over my course of my journey in college basketball.”
It took time for him to gel with a new-look Maryland team that featured a new head coach and eight new players. Carey had a rough start to the season despite his previous success from three-point range, starting just 16-for-68 from deep through 12 games.
He shot 44.9 percent from three-point range during the 2020-21 season at Georgetown and maintained a 38.8 percent clip with much larger volume last season for the Hoyas.
But he rallied to become one the Terps’ most effective options in their starting five from deep this season, making the most three–pointers of anyone on the team on 32.2 percent shooting. That number’s risen to a 35 percent clip against Big Ten opponents largely due to his recent success.
Carey has notched double digit points in each of the Terps’ last four contests, averaging 12 points, 1.75 rebounds and an assist per game on 50 percent shooting from deep over that stretch.
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“Even though he’s struggled to shoot the basketball at times, I think he just kind of stayed with a great work ethic, stayed to bring that attitude, and I think it’s paid off,” Willard said.
The Georgetown transfer’s final home game was a part of that run of contests. Carey celebrated his senior day in his only year at Maryland with 13 points on four threes — blowing a kiss after one of his makes in his final performance in front of the Xfinity Center crowd.
“Only one year of being here, the changes that we’ve made so far just with this group alone, it’s just a special thing. So [I was] really just soaking all that up at once,” Carey said. “Playing at Xfinity Center has been amazing this year as well. Like I said before, it’s just a bittersweet feeling.”
Carey is the only player with a conference tournament title on Maryland’s current roster, one he earned with Georgetown’s unlikely run to the championship as a No. 8 seed in 2021.
While he won’t be able to show out in front of a home crowd for the rest of the season, Carey hopes to use that experience to bring even more joy to Terps fans.