Chanelle Carter took piano lessons for 11 years. Then last year she stopped.
She thinks for good.
"She's just on a leave of absence," said her mother, Brenda Brooks.
That's the difference between piano and basketball in Carter's life. Carter, a junior at Howard, never will take a break from basketball.
"The first thing about Chanelle is that she's a basketball player," said Howard coach Craig O'Connell. "She plays year-round. There's not a whole lot she doesn't know."
Carter, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound junior, is averaging 20 points for the Lions (9-9, 4-6), who have won four of their last five games. O'Connell named her captain at last year's team banquet, and Carter has responded on and off the court.
"She holds the team together," said Megan Boehm, a senior forward. "When we're down, and it seems like it's going to fall apart, she's there to hold us together."
And her play on the court?
"She's a wicked player," Boehm said. "Just awesome. She tears it up."
Carter scores well from the baseline, and has a nice shooting touch from the outside. She feels good about her ability, yet recognizes there always is room for improvement.
"I think I'm playing really well," said Carter, who works out every Sunday with Don Aaron, a personal basketball developmental specialist. "I'm more consistent. My rebounding is good, but I'd like it to be better."
Carter was diagnosed with diabetes in sixth grade. She injects insulin twice a day and has to monitor her blood sugar level as well.
"It hasn't affected me and I'm not going to let it affect me," said Carter, who watches her diet closely. "I'm the only one in my
family who has it, but it happens to a lot of people. I just have to live with it and do the best I can."
Learning and playing basketball has come easily for Carter. Her stepfather, Fred Brooks, coached Carter on her first CBA team in second grade.
"He's been very important," Carter said. "He taught me the fundamentals from the beginning and taught me the right attitude on and off the court."
Carter's mother also is very supportive -- and vocal.
"My mom's voice is well-known in this school," said Carter. "I make mistakes all the time and she lets me know it out loud."
Brenda Brooks is proud of her daughter's accomplishments in basketball and education. Carter has a 3.5 GPA and would like to study medicine in college.
"She's very focused," Brooks said. "She is totally dedicated to school and basketball. She has set high standards for herself."
Carter worked her way into the starting lineup as a freshman, then broke her ankle in a Christmas tournament. She returned for the playoffs and helped the Lions to the Class 3A state title.
"That was a great feeling," Carter said. "After everything that had happened to me, it made me feel a lot better."
Carter, who plans to try out for the Hurricanes AAU team this year after two seasons with the Waves, averaged 12 points last year. She played second fiddle to Mona Jackson, the Lions' all-time scoring leader.
Now the spotlight is on Carter.
"I'm getting a lot of letters from colleges," said Carter. "It feels good that you're known, but I realize a lot of girls are getting these letters. I want to play in college and possibly at the professional level. I'll take it as far as I can."