The stage is set, Thursday, Dec. 15 is going to be a special night for the history of the University of North Carolina basketball tradition and for all of college basketball.
Tyler Hansbrough only needs nine points to set the career points record at UNC, which is currently owned by Phil Ford. There have been a lot of great players to come through UNC basketball, including: Michael Jordan, Phil Ford, Sam Perkins, James Worthy, Rasheed Wallace, Vince Carter, Billy Cunningham, Antwan Jamison, Raymond Felton...just to name a few.
With so many great players in the history of the program, Hansbrough's feat will be quite an accomplishment. But that's not the most important part of the feat.
The most important storyline in this record setting career is that Hansbrough, after winning the National Player of the Year last season, came back to school to pursue a National Title. This puts Hansbrough in great company. The last National Player of the Year to return to school was Tim Duncan (that's pretty good company, wouldn't you say?).
When looking at today's college basketball game, you will see college basketball players who use it as just a quick stepping stone for the NBA.
Since the "one-year removed from high school basketball" rule was implemented by NBA commissioner David Stern, college basketball fans have seen the best freshman in the country leave their beloved game of college basketball after only one year, to enter the NBA waters.
When looking at the overall abilities and skills Tyler Hansbrough possesses, he may in-fact not be the best NBA prospect, and he will most likely not be a top-20 NBA Draft pick. But, when looking at the decision and the impact to finish college and pursue a National Championship, the NBA cannot be ignored, but it should not matter.
When Hansbrough decided to finish college after winning National Player of the Year, he did what was best for college basketball. And, this is what should be celebrated.
Doing what is best for college basketball is not on many young players minds these days, and for some how could you blame them? Some of the players that leave college basketball to pursue an NBA career have financial difficulties at home and they need the money that comes along with the NBA.
But, when looking at the college basketball landscape, Hansbrough made the best decision for college basketball. This is what every college coach dreams of, a kid who comes to their program and leaves as a college basketball icon because of their contributions.
I will be at the Dean E. Smith Center on Thursday night to see Phil Ford's scoring mark broken. A record that should not only be celebrated because it is being broken, but because of why it is being broken.
What a story line that we may not see for a while in college basketball, "NCAA National Player of the Year returns for senior season and breaks an almost 30-year old scoring record."