North Carolina Basketball: Best Local Recruits in Tar Heels History
For a program that can have its pick of elite high-school players from Chapel Hill to Sacramento, North Carolina has found an extraordinary number of its greatest players in its own backyard.
The roster of Tar Heel stars who hailed from the Tar Heel State would put many another school’s entire history to shame.
Antawn Jamison, recruited out of Charlotte’s Providence High School, narrowly missed scoring 2,000 points in just three seasons of college ball. The truly amazing thing, though, is that Jamison isn’t even close to being the most dangerous scorer that UNC has recruited from its home state.
Read on for more on Jamison and the rest of the 10 greatest Tar Heels who stayed at home by wearing Carolina blue.
10. Brendan Haywood (1997-01)
Finesse has never been among Brendan Haywood’s virtues, but the 7’0”, 268-lb center from Greensboro has made the most of his power game.
In a Tar Heel uniform, he averaged as many as 7.5 rebounds per game while setting a school record with 304 career blocks.
Haywood, who helped lead UNC to the 2000 Final Four as a sophomore, earned an NBA championship ring two seasons ago with the Mavs.
As a pro, he’s posted averages as high as 9.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, and at age 32, he’s still a defender to be reckoned with in the middle.
9. Jerry Stackhouse (1993-95)
Although he played his senior year of high school ball at Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy, Jerry Stackhouse had already earned state High School Player of the Year honors in North Carolina the season before.
The Kinston product was similarly precocious as a Tar Heel, averaging 19.2 points and 8.2 rebounds a game as a sophomore leader on UNC’s 1995 Final Four squad.
Still clinging to an NBA career at age 37, Stackhouse has signed with the Nets for next season.
He hasn’t played a full season or even started regularly in a decade, but in his prime the two-time All-Star averaged as many as 29.8 points a night as a Piston.
8. Bobby Jones (1971-74)
A 6’9” power forward with the agility to match up with anyone from a center to a shooting guard, Charlotte’s Bobby Jones was one of the most renowned defensive stoppers in basketball history.
His defense combined with Bob McAdoo’s offense to carry the Tar Heels to the 1972 Final Four.
Jones was also a fine scorer in his own right, averaging as many as 16.1 points (not to mention 10.5 rebounds) per game as a Tar Heel.
A five-time All-Star in the ABA and NBA, he earned a championship ring with the 1983 76ers in the midst of a string of nine consecutive selections to the All-Defensive first team.
7. Brad Daugherty (1982-86)
After a two-year apprenticeship under Sam Perkins, Swannanoa’s Brad Daugherty came into his own as an outstanding center.
The seven-footer averaged as many as 20.2 points and nine rebounds a game in Chapel Hill, and he became one of just seven Tar Heels to record 1,000 career rebounds.
Daugherty couldn’t quite live up to the No. 1 overall pick Cleveland spent on him, but he was still an outstanding NBA center before back troubles ended his career at age 28.
He made five All-Star teams in his eight pro seasons, averaging as many as 21.3 points and 10.4 rebounds a game while competing against the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing.
6. Antawn Jamison (1995-98)
From the moment he arrived in Chapel Hill from Charlotte, Antawn Jamison was an unstoppable force at power forward.
Even as a freshman, he averaged 15.1 points and 9.7 rebounds a game, and as a junior he raised those figures to 22.2 points and 10.5 boards while winning the Wooden and Naismith Awards and leading the second of back-to-back Final Four trips for the Tar Heels.
Jamison’s blazing speed and leaping ability have faded, but he still had enough scoring punch to lead last season's Cavs in points at age 35.
At his best, he made a pair of All-Star appearances with the Wizards, averaging as many as 21.4 points and a career-high 10.2 rebounds a night in the process.
5. Walter Davis (1973-77)
Nothing Walter Davis could do as a Tar Heel was likely to top the eight points he scored in the final 17 seconds to stun Duke in 1974, but his career accomplishments were still awfully impressive.
The 6’6” Charlotte product averaged 15.7 points and 5.6 rebounds a night over his four seasons in Chapel Hill, not to mention posting two of the top 10 single-season steal totals in school history.
After playing a key role for the 1977 national runners-up, Davis went on to become a consistent All-Star performer with the NBA's Suns. He topped 20 points per game in six different seasons while still dishing out as many as 5.5 assists a night.
4. Charlie Scott (1967-70)
Laurinburg product Charlie Scott was an extraordinary rebounder for a 6’5” swingman, grabbing as many as 8.6 boards a game as a Tar Heel.
Of course, he didn’t get nearly so much attention for that feat as for the 2,007 points he scored in three seasons in Chapel Hill—still the sixth-highest total in the program's history.
Scott was just as impressive a scorer at the pro level, pouring in 33.4 points a game for the ABA’s Virginia Squires and posting three straight seasons at 24 points per game or better with the NBA’s Suns.
The five-time All-Star played more of a combo guard’s role as a pro than he had at UNC, dishing out as many as 6.1 assists per game in Phoenix.
3. James Worthy (1979-82)
Standing 6’9” and with the skills to play either forward spot, James Worthy shined brightest on the biggest stages.
The Gastonia native earned Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors in leading the Tar Heels to the 1982 national title, pouring in 28 points in the championship game against Georgetown.
Worthy, who was also a terrific defender, had plenty of opportunities for postseason heroics as one of the iconic stars of the Showtime Lakers.
In his 12-year Hall of Fame career in L.A., he averaged 17.6 points and 5.1 assists a night and took home Finals MVP honors for the last of his three NBA championship seasons.
2. Phil Ford (1974-78)
Dean Smith’s famed Four Corners offense found its ultimate expression with Rocky Mount native Phil Ford running the point.
Ford graduated as the Tar Heel record-holder for both points (2,290) and assists (753), and he still stands second and third (respectively) on those lists.
Ford narrowly missed leading UNC to the 1977 national title, getting out-dueled in an epic championship game by Marquette’s Butch Lee.
Ford's NBA career started strong—1979 Rookie of the Year honors, three straight seasons of 15 points and 7 assists per game—but he faded quickly and never approached the level of his collegiate success.
1. Michael Jordan (1981-84)
In the summer of 1981, Wilmington’s Michael Jordan was just one of two dozen McDonald’s All-Americans embarking on a college career.
A year later, he was the player who hit the title-winning shot for the national champion Tar Heels, setting him well on the path to establishing the Air Jordan legend.
In three years as a Tar Heel, Jordan scored 1,788 points, averaged five rebounds and 1.7 steals per game and won the Wooden and Naismith Awards as a junior.
The fact that his NBA accomplishments would dwarf all of those successes only secured his place as the single best player ever to wear a North Carolina uniform.