Ex-Tigers star Carroll says liver disease no issue

Saturday, June 13, 2009
DeMarre Carroll pulls down a rebound during a game this past season. (L.G. PATTERSON ~ Associated Press)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- DeMarre Carroll was beginning his first season at Missouri two years ago when he was annoyed by itchy legs. Convinced he was allergic to something, he visited several doctors until he received a much different explanation:~ The former Missouri forward has impressed teams.

liver disease.

The diagnosis was kept quiet and Carroll hardly looked ill on the court, earning a slew of awards and helping the Tigers go deep in last season's NCAA tournament.

After his medical condition finally was revealed this month -- with the news he might need a liver transplant in 20 to 25 years -- Carroll wants it known it won't stop his NBA career.

"It hasn't been a factor, and from what the doctor told me, it isn't going to be a factor until later down my road -- if it ever is," Carroll said Friday after a pre-draft workout with the Charlotte Bobcats. "I think it's blown out of proportion."

Reports of Carroll's condition came as he was shooting up draft boards following individual workouts. There was talk the 6-foot-8 forward, who averaged a team best 16.8 points and 7.2 rebounds last season as Missouri won a school record 31 games before losing in the West Regional final, could jump into the first round.

Hoping to stop any alarm over his future, Carroll said he'll meet soon with Dr. Jeffrey Crippin of Washington University in St. Louis, who has been treating him the past two years. Crippin will write a letter explaining his condition to be sent to all NBA teams.

"If I do take medication, it's once every two or three weeks," Carroll said. "And I have to go see the doctor every year. It's not a weekly checkup."

Showing off his familiar long dreadlocks and intense work ethic that earned him the nickname Junkyard Dog, Carroll impressed Bobcats coach Larry Brown on Friday. Carroll banged with fellow forwards DeJuan Blair of Pittsburgh, Jeff Adrien of Connecticut, Brandon Costner of North Carolina State, Dante Cunningham of Villanova and Jeff Pendergraph of Arizona State.

"I always love those kind of kids," Brown said of Carroll. "High energy, athletic and can handle it a little bit. He reminds me of George Lynch a little bit, maybe not as physical right now. But he'll figure it out."

A Birmingham, Ala., native, Carroll started his college career at Vanderbilt. He transferred after two years to play for his uncle, Missouri coach Mike Anderson. Smart off the court -- he's 15 credits shy of earning a master's degree -- Carroll became a dominant player as a senior and was voted to the all-Big 12 first team.

Carroll's stock rose again when he was voted MVP of the pre-draft Portsmouth Invitational in April. A likely second-round pick now had aspirations of going in the first round -- until the secret he'd concealed in college became public after his NBA combine physical in Chicago.

Yet Carroll, who insists the disease never has forced him to limit physical activity, is convinced he'll put NBA teams at ease through individual workouts.

"In the end, you can't judge me unless you see me in these workouts and see how I perform," Carroll said.

Friday was Carroll's 10th NBA workout. He still hopes to go in the first round to get a guaranteed contract. If not, he's intent on making a team and settling into a long NBA career before having to worry about perhaps needing a new liver.

"The way the world is these days," Carroll said, "in 20, 25 years down the road you might be able to grow a new liver."

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