UIC coach Jimmy Collins understood the type of player that Minnesota transfer Paul Carter could be for the Flames from the moment he heard Carter was available.
With Carter's 6-foot-8 size, offensive ability, toughness inside and two years of Big Ten experience, Collins saw someone who could elevate UIC from last year's 3-15 conference record to being a contender in the Horizon League.
"He's the kind of guy who's been missing from our program for quite a while," Collins said.
UIC announced on Thursday that Carter officially transferred to the Flames and ended what has been a delicate recruiting process.
Usually, when someone like Carter expresses interest in playing in Chicago, Collins and his staff would have put on the full-court recruiting press. But in Carter's case, it had to be handled differently because of the circumstances involved.
Carter's decision to leave Minnesota began in December when it was discovered that his 14-year-old sister Bria Carter, who lives in Chicago, had a rare form of bone cancer. With Bria going through multiple rounds of chemotherapy, Carter wanted to be with her, and it's why he began looking at Chicago State, DePaul, Loyola and UIC.
"It's been really, really tough on him and his family," Collins said. "Whenever you have a younger sibling and you go through those hard times, needless to say, you can't concentrate on things yourself.
"He had a number of schools in the Chicago area. He wanted to be closer to his family. We're just praying and hopeful that's he's doing well and his sister is doing well. We haven't put any undue pressure on him in terms of basketball."
What gave UIC a foot in the door was that Flames assistant coach Tracy Dildy had a prior relationship with Carter and his father Ronald Carter, a former NBA player. Dildy recruited Carter while he was an assistant at Mississippi.
"I think that had a lot to do with it -- the past relationship," Dildy said. "I think our past relationship had some effect on him because I knew him personally.
"But also if you put the schools up head to head, he thought UIC was a better situation for him."
Dildy saw up close what Carter was going through when he recruited him to UIC.
"It's been extremely emotional," Dildy said. "I haven't been through anything like that. The only thing I've been through like that is the loss of my mother. For him to go through that, he is his sister's hero, it's been tough. It's been tough on his whole family."
Collins said that UIC will seek a hardship waiver to allow Carter to play in the 2010-11 season. Carter has one year of eligibility remaining after also previously playing one season at a junior college.
"The NCAA is sensitive to what's going on with Paul," Collins said. "We intend to have him playing next season."
As a junior at Minnesota, Carter averaged 6.3 points and 3.7 points while playing 15.2 minutes a game. He had four points, nine rebounds and two blocks in the Golden Gophers' loss to Xavier in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
UIC also announced that it added the following players to its recruiting class: 6-2 guard Daniel Barnes from Kaskaskia College; 6-7 forward Paris Carter from Lake Land College; 6-4 guard Shawn King from Gilbert, Ariz.; 6-9 center Dorian Tyler from Morton College and 6-9 center Darrin Williams from Wallace State Community College.
"We're bringing in a strong class," Dildy said. "We're looking for some big, big things to happen this upcoming season. We filled a lot the holes we had. We feel like we can put together a really, really good class."
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.