Fresh start greets Carte’Are Gordon at DePaul

More stories from Paul Steeno


DePaul’s newest addition Carte’Are Gordon was in attendance for DePaul’s game against Butler Wednesday night. Gordon announced his commitment on Jan. 15.

Carte’Are Gordon knew he needed a change.

That change came when Gordon announced on Jan. 15 he was moving from St. Louis to Lincoln Park to join the Blue Demons. Gordon was on the bench for the Blue Demons game against Butler the following night surrounded by new teammates and in a new city.

“[DePaul is a better fit for me], because it’s not in St. Louis,” Gordon, who transferred over to DePaul at the beginning of the new year after playing in 13 games for Saint Louis University this season, said. “I’m a St. Louis native, so I’m really well connected in the city so sometimes kids need to get away to focus on themselves. With everything that’s gone on in my past, I’m definitely looking for a fresh start. And this is definitely it.”

Gordon said he chose DePaul as the destination for his fresh start at least in part because of a conversation he had with head coach Dave Leitao when Leitao brought him to his house on his recruiting visit.

“I wanted to reassure him that him being here, we are going to work together,” Leitao said about that conversation. “I don’t come in with judgement. My job goes way beyond basketball it’s to help develop you as a person, as a man. That’s what I tried to emphasize to him throughout the recruitment. Since he’s been here, he’s been great. He’s been very understanding, very compliant. It’s not easy, you walking in in the middle of a season. You go from starting on one team [Saint Louis] to not even being part of practice sometimes. He’s been very understanding of all of those kind of things both basketball and non-basketball. Hopefully, as we take things day-by-day we’re going to a place that’s really good for us.”

Gordon’s past isn’t as pretty as the place Leitao wants to get him to during his time at DePaul.

During his senior year at Webster Groves High School just outside St. Louis, Gordon incurred two suspensions. The lengthier one resulted from an altercation with a teammate. He incurred a second one on a technicality. In a late February game, Gordon leaped off the bench and rushed across the court to celebrate with a teammate who had just dunked the ball.

Andrew Hattersley | The DePaulia

En route, he bumped into an opponent resulting in an automatic ejection which in turn resulted in an automatic one-game suspension.

The year prior, Gordon had transferred over to Webster Groves High School from private, Catholic school St. John Vianney. While enrolled at Vianney, a heated verbal dispute between him and his coach earned him a suspension for half a game. During his time at Vianney, there was tension in his family because the Gordons were Jehovah Witnesses, yet St. John Vianney was a Catholic institution, according to report by STL Today. An uncle who was providing him with the needed financial aid to attend Vianney also lost his job, another reason he transferred to Webster Groves, which is a public school. Tuition at Vianney is over $15,000 per year.

Gordon lasted five months at St. Louis University, tweeting that “personal issues with my family” and a desire to do “what is best for me and furthering my career” contributed to his migration to Chicago. Through all the mistakes and tough decisions, everybody from journalists to Twitter trolls have questioned him.

“It’s kind of sad seeing adults talk to kids like that,” Gordon said. “At the end of the day, when you look at the big picture I’m still a kid. I’m only 18 and you’re a grown man making up lies. It’s kind of sad and sickening but at the end of the day tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

As he stands in the tunnel of Wintrust Arena politely answering interview questions, he doesn’t flinch when one about his past comes up. He answers calmly. Confidently. As if he expected the question was coming and was ready with an answer.

“People try to make an image of somebody based on their mistakes,” Gordon said. “I’m a human just like everybody else. I come from a dysfunctional black family, so today in America it’s difficult for kids like that. Period. Another thing, when I get to where I want to go and do what I want to do, I’m going to give back to kids like me. I wouldn’t say I’ve changed as a person at all because I’ve always been a great person. People don’t know the story; people make mistakes every single day. I wouldn’t say [when I made those mistakes] I was a bad person. Absolutely not. I will say that things do happen and I definitely learned from it.”

Leitao was one of the people who didn’t define the former four-star recruit by his past mistakes.

“I go into things with an open mind, whether it’s Carte’Are or any other situation, and then you judge it from there,” Leitao said. “Him getting to know me, me getting to know him —like everything else, it’s a work in progress. His maturity is growing. My biggest thing is in your core whether you are a good person and the answer [with Gordon] is an unequivocal yes. Do you need work? Yes, we all do. I think we just need to meet each other halfway and just continue to work on things.”

“[DePaul is] family-based,” fellow Blue Demon transfer Darious Hall said. “They bring you in and they treat you like family. [Leitao is] just a real man. He keeps everything real, he’s down-to-earth. He doesn’t sugar coat anything.”

If things go well, Gordon will operate next to two top 100 recruits, a fellow talented transfer in Hall and another in Jalen Coleman-Lands, and returning contributors Paul Reed, Jaylen Butz and Devin Gage.

It would be a fresh start for Gordon in perhaps a turning point season for DePaul.