College Basketball: The True Meaning of Senior Day

John LewisSenior Writer IMarch 8, 2008

As Duke and North Carolina get set to renew their storied rivalry, it's also a special day for one player—DeMarcus Nelson.

Today is Senior Day at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and the home crowd will be fired up. 

That got me thinking—does Senior Day have the same meaning as in years past?

Because so many underclassmen end up skipping their final years, the last home game always feels like Senior Day.

Of the 14 projected NBA lottery picks this year, eight of them are freshmen and five are sophomores (one's also from Italy). So no seniors, no juniors—no upper classmen whatsoever.

But before it became the norm for kids to leave school early, Senior Day was a big deal. It ascends to a different level when the players take the floor for the final time.  There are guys who always put the team ahead of themselves, and play hard every second.

Perhaps no other performance sticks out in my mind more than North Carolina's Phil Ford.  His last game running the point for Carolina was so special and he carried the Heels to an 87-83 victory over a powerful Duke team led by Gene Banks, Mike Giminski, and Jim Spanarkel.

Phil Ford was nothing short of spectacular that day, scoring a career high 34 points and dishing out five assists as the Tar Heels captured the ACC Regular Season Championship. Phil was a three year member of the All-America team and was named both ACC and National Player of the Year in 1978.

What are your memories?