What are the most famous NBA players from North Carolina at Chapel?
The University of North Carolina has been a breeding ground for NBA talent for generatons, including Chapel Hill's most famous alumni, Michael Jordan.
Few programs in college basketball have a longer and more prestigious legacy than the University of North Carolina. The Tar Heels have won seven National Titles and are back in the NCAA Tournament looking for their eighth as an 8 seed coming into this year’s big dance.
In those seven titles runs and throughout the history of the program there have been some legendary players that not only made their name in Chapel Hill, but have gone on to have long and successful careers in the NBA.
I believe our first Tar Heel needs no formal introduction. Michael Jeffrey Jordan out of Wilmington, North Carolina had a four year career with UNC, in which he cemented one of the most impressive eras at North Carolina. He won the National Championship in 1982, was a two-time All-American in the two season after and was named the Player of the Year in 1984.
After averaging 17.7 points a game over his college career, he was drafted third overall by the Chicago Bulls in the 1984 draft. Jordan would go on to win six titles, six Finals MVP awards, five league MVP’s and became the arguably the greatest player ever. Over the course of his career he averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists.
Vince Carter’s NBA career was as impressive for his high flying areal acrobatics as it was for it’s longevity. After three years at the University of North Carolina, Carter was drafted by the Toronto Raptors.
Before being selected by the Canadian franchise, he went to two Final Fours in college and averaged 12.3 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. He made an immediate impact with the Raptors, being named the Rookie of the Year in 1999. He made eight All-Star games in his 22 year career that spanned over four decades.
While his play speaks, he averaged of 16.7 points and 4.3 rebounds took a hit in the final years of his illustrious tenure in the NBA, “VInceanity” will always be remembered for his dunks, especially the 2000 Dunk Contest.
Believe it or not the best player on North Carolina’s 1982 Championship team wasn’t Michael Jordan, it was James Worthy. Worthy was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player that year after posting 28 points in the title game against Georgetown.
After averaging 14.5 points and 7.4 rebounds in his college career he was taken number one overall in the subsequent NBA Draft, going to the Los Angeles Lakers where he would spend his entire professional career. Worthy won three NBA Titles with Magic and Kareem in LA, and was named the Finals MVP in 1988. He finshed his career as a seven time All-Star and averaged 17.6 points and 5.1 rebounds in his 12 year career.
For all you youngsters out there who know Kenny Smith as the guy who comes on the halftime and post game show on TNT with Charles Barkley and Shaq, let me just tell you Kenny could hoop.
Smith averaged 12.9 points and six assists a game at Chapel Hill and was named a first team All-American in his senior year. The Sacramento Kings came knocking in the NBA Draft when they took him sixth overall.
In other NCAA news
“The Jet” would had a fantastic three years with the Kings, when briefly to Atlanta and then made Houston his home where he and Hakeem Olajuwon would win back to back titles in 1994 and 1995.
We would be remiss to leave Tyler Hansbrough off of this list. While his NBA career most likely won’t get him to the Hall of Fame in Springfield his college era was unlike anything we have ever seen at North Carolina, in the ACC, and really in the history of college basketball. Smith ended his career with the Denver Nuggets in 1996 with an average of 12.8 points and 5.5 assists in the NBA.
In four seasons at Chapel Hill, the big man averaged 20.2 points and 8.6 rebounds and became the Atlantic Coast Conference’s all time leading scorer (2,872 points) and the University’s all-time leading rebounder with 1,219. He was a three-time first team All-American, and was named the National Player of the Year in 2008. He made two Final Fours, and won the National Title in 2009 while going 124-22 in his career.
He had an efficient career in the NBA, averaging 6.7 points and 4.2 rebounds a game in his seven years in the league, but had a hard time replicating the success he had in college.