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Published: Monday, 12/25/2000

Basketball courting leads to Rocket romance

Kahli Carter and Albert Wilson first met at Savage Hall. Senior Carter leads the Rocket women in scoring and rebounding. Junior Wilson contributes off the bench for the men's team. Kahli Carter and Albert Wilson first met at Savage Hall. Senior Carter leads the Rocket women in scoring and rebounding. Junior Wilson contributes off the bench for the men's team.

University of Toledo basketball players Albert Wilson and Kahli Carter met at a summer basketball camp four years ago at Savage Hall.

It wasn't a slam-dunk matchup, or love at first sight.

“I thought Albert was a nice guy, but I wasn't interested in dating him,” Carter said. “We were just friends.”

Wilson and Carter kept that friendship intact for nearly two years, but there were stretches where they wouldn't talk for months at a time.

This past February, Wilson invited Carter to a play at the Stranahan Theater. A few days later, he sent her roses for Valentine's Day.

“It was a great gesture on his part, but it still was really nothing serious,” Carter said. “Al actually was interested in going out with somebody else.”

Carter, though, was persistent.

In May, she asked Wilson to accompany her to the wedding of former UT teammate Kim Knuth in St. Joseph, Mich.

“That did it for us,” Wilson said. “We really hit it off and have been dating ever since.”

Wilson and Carter hit it off so well they got engaged Oct. 7, exactly one week before basketball practice began for both.

Today, Wilson and Carter will celebrate their first Christmas together. Their wedding is set for June 2, 2001.

“It is neat,” UT women's coach Mark Ehlen said. “They're two really good people.”

Wilson is a 6-8 junior forward from Cleveland and Carter is a 6-foot senior forward from Columbus.

“I had been thinking about asking Kahli to marry me for about a month before I did it,” Wilson said. “I had talked to my minister about it. I told him I loved her and she loved me, and he said it was OK.”

Wilson proposed to Carter at his parents' house, but the weekend wasn't without hitches.

“First, an ex-girlfriend showed up,” Carter said. “Then the car started overheating just as we were getting to the Ohio Turnpike. Finally, we get to Cleveland and Albert was going to propose to me on this boat, but there was a snowstorm, so that got canceled.

“After that, he found out he had to go to this birthday party with his family. He was like, yikes, because we were supposed to go out to dinner. He finally said, `Forget it, I'm just going to ask her.'

“So he lit some candles in the living room and put on Lauryn Hill, and the song, `Nothing Even Matters.' He said, `You know how you say you can't find words to describe how you feel for me?' and I said, `Yeah.' He was like, `Well, that's the way I feel for you.'

“He finally asked me if I would marry him. I said, `Yes.' It was a pretty simple answer after all we'd been through.”

Wilson, one of the top reserves for coach Stan Joplin's men's team, will be back in his hometown of Cleveland Saturday when the Rockets play No. 22 Cincinnati in the Rock-N-Roll Shootout at Gund Arena.

He is averaging 3.7 points and 2.3 rebounds for UT, which has a 7-3 record.

Carter, meanwhile, is the star of the women's team, which carries a 6-3 mark into Saturday's game at Youngstown State. She is averaging 16.9 points and 8.4 rebounds, both team highs.

“When we hang out together, I try to tell Kahli, `Let's leave our games on the floor,'” Wilson said. “But that's hard to do since we both play basketball.

“After my games, she likes to tell me what I should be doing - like shooting more or getting to the foul line more. And after her games, I'll be telling her things she can do to better her performance.

“It's not a bad thing. In fact, I think it's good to have both of us offering advice.”

Carter, who carries a 3.07 cumulative grade-point average, will graduate after the spring semester with a degree in professional sales.

Next year, while Wilson wraps up his final year of eligibility, Carter will either get a full-time job, stay on as a graduate assistant coach at UT, or begin pursuing her master's degree.

Despite their ages - Wilson is 20 years old and Carter is 22 - Wilson doesn't think the couple is too young to get married.

“It will be fun, because Kahli's fun,” he said. “She's a great person.”

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