Arc Blog

Featured Individual: John Carter

Posted by Corbin Delaney on Feb 9, 2011 9:53:00 AM

John CarterELKMONT, Alabama - In an almost empty gym in northern Limestone County, a 19-year-old man is making jump shot after jump shot.

The machine on the wall keeps blurting out the same number after each shot.

"45...45...45," the computerized voice says.

As Michael Carter makes another jump shot, his father, John, says, "That's what the Miami Heat has."

That's the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association - the newly crowned world champions. That's the LeBron James, Dwyane Wade-led Miami Heat.

That's the Miami Heat, the first NBA team to purchase and install the product that's on the wall of the Elkmont High School gym.

The product is known as the Noah Instant. It's a black box that tracks the arc of a player's shot.

The computerized voice announces the degree of the arc, along with the depth of the shot.

In the case of Michael Carter, he's shooting at the perfect arc - 45 degrees.

"Who built the perfect arc (ark)?" said John Carter, explaining the company's name. "Noah."

It's an unlikely story, to be sure, someone from Elkmont doing business with the Miami Heat.

But John Carter, 47, has developed strong ties to high school, college and professional basketball since he became the CEO of Noah Basketball in 2005.

Among his customers are some of the biggest names in college basketball - the University of Connecticut, the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville, the University of Tennessee women and Gonzaga University, among them.

He counts Auburn, Georgia, the University of North Carolina women among others who have purchased Noah products. His local clients include Albertville High School.

For star power, though, the Miami Heat is unsurpassed.

"LeBron and Dwyane Wade - it gets no bigger than that," John Carter said.

Wade's endorsement of the Noah Instant was the subject of an article in February.

"Dwyane Wade's number is 45 and LeBron James won't let him forget it," the article began. "As a friendly reminder, LeBron yells the number at him every time Wade steps to the free throw line."

Wade had been a line-drive free throw shooter. His free throw percentage had dropped to 71 percent, down from his career percentage of 77.

His percentage increased to 82 percent after working with Noah Instant, according to the article.

"That machine in great," Wade said in the article. "It's great for me and it's great for other guys to hear when you're making shots what number you're at.

"You can feel it. I've been feeling better at the line because of it."

Gary Boren, the free-throwing shooting coach for the Dallas Mavericks, the NBA champions last season, says the Noah products are "getting traction" in professional basketball.

"If you think about basketball through the years, you've seen every dreamed-up thing in the world," he said. "The only piece of equipment worth two cents is the thing that saves you having you from rebounding. (The player) can catch it and get shots."

The Noah Instant is better, in Boren's estimation.

"This deal is way beyond that," he said. "It is far and away the most sophisticated and most important equipment for someone serious about shooting the basketball. The arc is everything.

"This is a combination camera and computer and speaker doing all that instantly - and telling you what you are doing instantly. It is a nice piece of equipment and it is here to stay."

Carter's work with Noah started around 2004, after he read an article in USA Today about the development of the company's products.

Alan Marty was the inventor. He played basketball for North Central College in Illinois before becoming a physics professor and an executive for some companies in the Silicon Valley.

Marty and others, including Dr. Thomas Edwards, a NASA executive, developed the Noah products. Their efforts began with Marty's desire to help his daughter improve the arc on her shot.

Carter's background was similar to Marty's. He was a former basketball player with an interest in helping his children become better basketball players.

"We hit it off," Carter said. "Over time, it made sense for me to come on as CEO and move everything (to Alabama)."

How did Noah executives determine that 45 degrees was the perfect arc? A machine in a former tractor shed on Carter's farm is part of the answer.

The machine simulates a player of various skill levels. Carter calls it "an automated shooter."

"It's a one-of-a-kind product," he said. "There is no product like it in the world."

Carter punches a key pad on the side of the machine. The buttons on the key pad cue up the skill level of the player he wants to simulate, along with the type of shot he want to shoot.

With the tension of the springs adjusted, the machine lifts a shot.

"In every instance," Carter said, "the machine made the most shots with a 45-degree arc."

Near the bottom of the machine, there are some dollar signs, stenciled by a Gonzaga University basketball coach who saw the machine recently.

"He couldn't believe what (the machine) could do," Carter said. "That's why he said it's money."

It is money, for sure.

The Noah Instant, which works with an iPhone or iPod Touch, is $3,999. The Noah Select, which has handles, wheels, a laptop and pre-loaded software, is $5,599.

Patrick Harding, the head basketball coach at Albertville High, purchased one of the products after a parent in his program saw a Noah presentation in Huntsville and volunteered to pay half of the cost.

"We can do 50 percent," Harding said. "I can sell that to the Tipoff Club.

"It is an easy sell. The parents light up."

Volleyball teams are now starting to buy Noah products, too. But basketball remains Noah's core market.

"It's really taken off," Carter said. "People are seeing the value now. They're saying they've got to have one on every hoop."