By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
The University of North Carolina men’s basketball program debuted on Jan. 27, 1911, beating Virginia Christian by the score of 42-21. Since then, the school has grown to become one of college basketball’s perennial powers, winning six NCAA championships and making 20 Final Four appearances. The Tar Heel program featured some of the game’s greatest coaches, including Dean Smith and Roy Williams. And then, of course, there are the players…
The story of UNC basketball includes some of the most accomplished players ever to hit the hardwood. It wasn’t an easy task, but here is my all-time list of the greatest players to ever wear Carolina Blue:
THE STARTING LINEUP:
F – JAMES WORTHY (1979-82): Led the Tar Heels to the 1982 national championship, scoring 28 points against Georgetown in the title game. A 1982 consensus First-All-American. Averaged 14.5 points and 7.4 rebounds in three seasons for UNC before turning pro.
F – BILLY CUNNINGHAM (1962-65): “The Kangaroo Kid” averaged 24.8 points and 15.4 boards per game in three seasons at Chapel Hill. Set school records (since broken) for points (48) and rebounds (27) in a single game. A 1964 All-American and 3x All-ACC selection.
C – TYLER HANSBROUGH (2005-09): Hansbrough is the program’s all-time leading scorer (2,872) and rebounder (1,219). He was a 3x consensus First-Team All-American, a 4x First-Team All-ACC pick and the 2008 College Basketball Player of the Year. Scored 40 points in a 2006 win over Georgia Tech. Hansbrough capped his UNC career by leading the Tar Heels to the NCAA championship in 2009, scoring 18 points in the title game victory over Michigan State.
G – MICHAEL JORDAN (1981-84): Forever earned a place in Tar Heel lore by drilling the game-winning shot in the 1982 national championship game. It only got better from there. He was a consensus First-Team All-American the next two seasons and was selected the 1984 College Basketball Player of the Year. Averaged 17.7 points over three seasons before joining the NBA.
G – PHIL FORD (1974-78): Still widely regarded as the greatest point guard in ACC history. The master of Dean Smith’s “Four Corners Offense.” Was the first freshman in Dean Smith’s tenure to start in his first collegiate game. A 2x consensus First-Team All-American and the 1978 College Basketball Player of the Year. Averaged 18.6 points and 6.1 assists per game in his four-year UNC career. Remains No. 2 on the school’s all-time scoring list.
OFF THE BENCH:
F – BOB McADOO (1971-72): McAdoo is said to be the only junior college player that Coach Smith recruited to the program. He only played one season for the Tar Heels, but it was a memorable one. McAdoo and Bobby Jones led Carolina to the NCAA Final Four. That season, McAdoo averaged 19.5 points and 10.1 boards per contest and was a consensus First-Team All-American.
F – BOBBY JONES (1971-74): One of the greatest defensive players in basketball history, Jones could also score when he needed to. Led UNC with 24 points to lead the Tar Heels to the 1972 Rainbow Classic title (beating Louisville, 89-86). Averaged 13.7 points and 8.9 boards per game in three seasons. A 1974 Second-Team All-American.
F – ANTAWN JAMISON (1995-98): The 1998 College Basketball Player of the Year played three seasons at Chapel Hill, averaging 19.9 points and 9 boards a game. His No. 33 was retired by the program in 2000; Jamison is one of only eight UNC players to receive that honor.
F – AL WOOD (1977-81): A consensus Second-Team All-American in 1981 after leading the Tar Heels to the NCAA championship game, where they fell to Isiah Thomas and the Indiana Hoosiers. Wood scored 39 points in the semifinal victory over Virginia.
C – BRAD DAUGHERTY (1982-86): The smooth center was a Second-Team All-American in 1986 and 2x First-Team All-ACC selection. Averaged 14.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game over four seasons.
C – SAM PERKINS (1980-84): Along with Worthy and Michael Jordan, “Sleepy Sam” led UNC to the 1982 NCAA title, giving the legendary Dean Smith his first national title. Twice named a consensus First-Team All-American. Averaged 15.9 points and 8.6 points a game in four seasons.
G – CHARLIE SCOTT (1967-70): The former Rucker Park playground legend became UNC’s first African-American scholarship athlete. He was an instant difference maker, leading Dean Smith’s Tar Heels to two straight NCAA Final Four appearances. Averaged 22.1 points and 7.1 rebounds over three seasons, and averaged 27.1 points in his senior year. Scott was a 2x consensus Second-Team All-American and 3x First-Team All-ACC selection.
G – VINCE CARTER (1995-98): Before he became “Vinsanity,” Carter paired with teammate Antawn Jamison to lead UNC to two consecutive Final Four appearances. In his three campaigns with the Tar Heels, he averaged 12.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and countless spectacular plays. He was a consensus Second-Team All-American in 1998.
G – KENNY SMITH (1984-87): Although he is now widely known as an analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” Smith enjoyed a very impressive four-year stay in Chapel Hill, finishing No. 2 on the school’s career assists list. He was a consensus First-Team All-American in 1987, his senior year. Smith averaged 12.9 points and six assists per game in his career.
G – JERRY STACKHOUSE (1993-95): Stackhouse’s stay at Chapel Hill was brief – he played just two seasons before declaring for the NBA Draft – but impactful. He was named the ACC Tournament MVP as a freshman and a consensus First-Team All-American as a sophomore. Sports illustrated also named him the 1995 College Basketball Player of the Year. Teamed with Rasheed Wallace to lead UNC to the 1995 NCAA Final Four. He averaged 15.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game at Carolina.