Playing among a crop of youthful, inexperienced teammates, LSU senior guard Charles Carmouche possesses quiet intangibles that extend far beyond just dribbling and passing.
The 6-foot-4 New Orleans native has navigated his way from the University of New Orleans to the University of Memphis and back home to Louisiana to don the purple and gold for a fifth and final season of eligibility — all the while bringing the winning mentality LSU coach Johnny Jones saw in him as he courted Carmouche for his final season.
“I’ve actually had the opportunity to win and play in the NCAA Tournament,” Carmouche said. “I’m trying to help everybody not do the wrong things I did as a younger player and to better the team as a whole.”
After graduating from McMain High School in New Orleans, Carmouche starred at UNO for two seasons, punctuated by his 2009-10 campaign where he averaged 12.6 points and a team high 4.8 rebounds per game.
The Privateer basketball program then elected to drop down to Division III, prompting Carmouche to transfer to Memphis, where he was eligible to play immediately for coach Josh Pastner.
Carmouche excelled right off making 28 starts and averaging 8.8 points in four postseason games before being plagued by knee tendonitis and sitting out most of his senior season.
Due to the injury, Carmouche was granted a redshirt season from the NCAA. Carmouche qualified for a fifth year of eligibility and returned home in what he called the perfect situation.
“Going through the recruiting process as a high schooler and doing it over again, people don’t know that’s huge hoopla,” Carmouche said. “I was ready to get acquainted with my new family, new team and new city and get ready to play again.”
LSU junior forward Shavon Coleman got a taste of Carmouche’s leadership from his first moments on campus, when the team gathered on its own for some recreational games before official practice began.
“When we were playing pickup, he’d always tell people what we would mess up on and what we were doing good,” Coleman said. “That stuck out because some people didn’t have that type of leadership last year.”
That leadership coupled with veteran instincts on the court has propelled the journeyman into Jones’ starting lineup at wing for the Tigers’ first two regular season games — bludgeonings of UC Santa Barbara and McNeese.
Carmouche said adjusting to three different head coaches and their respective schemes has been relatively seamless, with Jones, Pastner and former UNO coach Joe Pasternack sharing the same mindset in coaching their teams.
“The philosophies from all three of my coaches are different, but they all had the same mentality,” Carmouche said. “Defense has always been a big part of my game, so I was always able to fit right in.”
While he wouldn’t divulge which coach he would prefer to play for out of those three, Carmouche said Jones’ past as a player makes him relatable to the team, understanding what his players go through each day on and off the floor.
Jones told Carmouche during his recruitment he knew he could provide a leadership spark his team would need to survive his first season.
Just don’t expect the well-traveled guard to vocalize it.
“I think he wants me to be more vocal, but I tend to try to lead by example,” Carmouche said. “I don’t want to do too much talking.”