Comeback Kid: Return from Injury Catapulted Dunham's Carlos Stewart to LSWA's Mr. Basketball Award
By Robin Fambrough, The Advocate
April 11, 2021
When Carlos Stewart suffered a knee injury in January, there was no guarantee he could return to The Dunham School lineup.
For some, a leap of faith fuels the return to action. Stewart’s return just 20 days and five games after the injury/surgery was powered by a different kind of leap.
“After the surgery, I worked hard at rehab. The first practices I wasn’t sure about,” Stewart said. “Soon it felt good. The way I could run and jump. … I knew I was OK.”
The 6-foot-1 senior was more than just OK. Stewart cemented his elite status after his return and was selected as the Louisiana Farm Bureau Insurance/LSWA Mr. Basketball winner after leading the Tigers to a second straight Division III select LHSAA title.
The Santa Clara signee was prolific and efficient, averaging 32.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.8 steals. He made 55.4% of his field goal attempts, including 44.5% of his 3-pointers.
Stewart, the LSWA’s two-time Class 2A Outstanding Player, also made 85.7 percent of his free throws. Stewart’s selection marks the seventh straight year a Baton Rouge area player has won the LSWA’s top boys basketball award.
“He is just so special. … Certainly the best player I have ever coached and the best player this school has had,” Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley said. “There are a lot of guards who can score. But he is the most efficient high school guard I have ever seen in this state who has averaged 30 points a game.”
Stewart also draws praise for his defensive skills and ability to dominate multiple phases of the game. Always a student of the game, he typically was assigned to guard the opponent’s top player.
“There is always something you need to improve on,” Stewart said. “If you are not working to make your game better, your game cannot evolve.”
Stewart’s desire and work ethic were never questioned by opponents.
"He wants to dominate the entire game … offense and defense. He has that mentality and motor to do it,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample, a former Istrouma High and Southern University star, said of Stewart. “That was always my mindset as a player, but I was nowhere near as good."
And dominate is what Stewart did at the LHSAA tourney. He scored 25 of the Tigers’ 45 points in a semifinal win over Lafayette Christian in Lafayette.
Stewart was even better in the title game. He finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds. He scored nine of the final 10 points in Dunham’s 52-48 victory over top-seeded Newman in the title game in Lake Charles.
While the numbers and awards are nice, Stewart said winning another title with his Dunham teammates was the greatest motivation and reward in 2020-21.
“Being able to win another title and finish it off with my guys … my teammates means everything,” Stewart said.