Top 10 Players of the Dean Smith Era

Lindsay Gibbs@linzsports Featured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2015

Top 10 Players of the Dean Smith Era

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    Pool/Associated Press

    Legendary University of North Carolina coach Dean Smith died Saturday, February 7, at the age of 83, as reported by ESPN.com.

    In his career as the coach of one of the best basketball programs in the country, Smith won two national championships, but he was perhaps best known for generating some of the best talent in the nation.

    Many of Smith's pupils have gone on to make waves in the NBA, including, of course, the greatest basketball player of all time—Michael Jordan.

    The list of great basketball players in the Dean Smith era is a long one, but in this case we weighed success at the collegiate level, significance to the UNC program and NBA resumes equally. 

    So as we remember the impact that Smith had both on and off the court in his storied career, here's a look at some of the best players he helped produce and mold, in no specific order.

Charles Scott

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    College Career: In four years with Dean Smith, Scott averaged 22.1 points per game, including 27.1 ppg in his senior year.

    College Accolades: Scott was a two-time All-American and three-time all-ACC selection.

    NBA Career: He was drafted in the seventh round by the Boston Celtics. Scott played on five teams in 10 years in the ABA and NBA. He won an NBA title in 1976 and was named to three All-Star teams.

    Dean Smith's Impact: You can't talk about Dean Smith's legacy without talking about what a champion he was for civil rights, which is why Scott is such a huge part of the Dean Smith story.

    According to UNC's website, "in 1966, Charles Scott became the first black scholarship athlete at the University of North Carolina," and ESPN.com's Ian O'Connor also wrote that "[Smith] recruited [Scott] to North Carolina, invited the player into his integrated church and defended him against racist fans."

Brad Daugherty

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    KAREN TAM/Associated Press

    College Career: In four years at UNC, Daugherty averaged 14.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. In his senior year, his average was 20.2 points per game.

    College Accolades: Daugherty was a two-time first-team all-ACC player (1985-86). He is considered one of the best big men in UNC history.

    NBA Career: Daugherty was drafted first overall in the 1986 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he remained with the team his entire career. He was a five-time NBA All-Star but was forced to retire early because of recurring back troubles.

    Since ending his playing career, Daugherty has had his No. 43 jersey retired by the Cavaliers and has gone on to have a successful career as a college basketball analyst with ESPN. 

    Dean Smith's Impact: He spoke to Jim Utter of The Charlotte Observer about what Smith meant to him: 

    When I got to the NBA, coach Smith would always look at what kind of watch I was wearing when I came around – he wanted to make sure I wore a Timex instead of a Rolex. He preached humility.

    I tried to emulate Coach in my everyday life. I learned more about life and being compassionate from him than about basketball. A life to be truly celebrated.

Jerry Stackhouse

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    Phil Coale/Associated Press

    College Career: In two years at UNC (1993-1995), Jerry Stackhouse averaged 15.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

    College Accolades: Stackhouse led the team to a Final Four in his sophomore season. That year he was also named a first-team All American and Sports Illustrated's Player of the Year. 

    NBA Career: He was drafted third overall in the 1995 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. Stackhouse had an 18-year NBA career with eight teams and was a two-time NBA All-Star.

    Dean Smith's Impact: Stackhouse spoke on SiriusXM NBA Radio Sunday about "how [well] Smith would treat everyone, not just a National Player of the Year," as paraphrased by the Sporting News. He also tweeted out his support, calling his former coach, "THE BEST EVER."

Vince Carter

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    Craig Jones/Getty Images

    College Career: Vince Carter spent three years at UNC (1995-1998), leading the team to back-to-back ACC titles and Final Four appearances. He averaged 12.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in college.

    College Accolades: In his final year with the Tar Heels, Carter was a consensus second-team All-American pick. 

    NBA Career: Carter was drafted fifth overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 1998 draft and is still in the NBA, now playing for the Memphis Grizzlies. He was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1999 and an eight-time NBA All-Star (2000-2007).

    His superstar status in the NBA led to "nicknames such as 'Vinsanity,' 'Air Canada' and 'Half-Man, Half-Amazing,'" according to Wikipedia.

Phil Ford

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    Michael O'Brien/Associated Press

    College Career: Phil Ford played for four years at UNC, averaging 18.6 points per game. 

    College Accolades: Ford was a consensus three-time All-American (1976-1978), the 1978 ACC Player of the Year and the College Player of the Year chosen by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association in 1978. Ford finished his career at UNC as the No. 1 all-time leading scorer in North Carolina history with 2,290 points, although Tyler Hansbrough passed him in 2008.

    NBA Career: Ford was drafted second overall in the 1978 draft by the Kansas City Kings. He was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1979. Overall, he played seven years in the NBA, averaging 11.6 points per game. 

    Dean Smith's Impact: On Sunday, Ford spoke about the impact Smith had on his career, as reported by Joedy McCreary of The Associated Press (via The Topeka Capital-Journal):

    Not many people are willing to share everything about themselves with another person that will make the other person better, and he was willing to do that. Not only with me, but with everyone that played for him, and basically everyone he came in contact with.

Rasheed Wallace

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    College Career: Rasheed Wallace spent two years at UNC under Smith. In that time, he averaged 13.0 points and 7.4 rebounds.

    College Accolades: Wallace teamed with Jerry Stackhouse to lead the Tar Heels to the Final Four in 1995. He was named a consensus second-team All-American that year as well.

    NBA Career: Wallace turned pro in 1995 and was selected fourth overall by the Washington Bullets. He was a four-time NBA All-Star and an NBA champion in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons.

    He played for 16 years in the NBA, retiring in 2010 only to come back and play one final season with the New York Knicks in 2012. He averaged 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in his pro career.

Sam Perkins

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    College Career: Sam Perkins spent four years at UNC, averaging 15.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.

    College Accolades: He was an integral member of the 1982 national championship team at North Carolina and a three-time consensus All-American from 1982-1984.

    NBA Career: Perkins was picked fourth overall in the 1984 NBA draft by the Dallas Mavericks. He played in the NBA until 2001 for four different teams in that span. 

    He averaged 11.9 points per game during his NBA career and was nicknamed "Big Smooth."

James Worthy

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    College Career: James Worthy spent three years at the University of North Carolina, averaging 14.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He was a member of the 1982 NCAA championship team.

    College Accolades: In 1982, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. He was also a consensus first-team All-American that season. Worthy's No. 52 was retired by UNC.

    NBA Career: Worthy is one of the best NBA players to come from Tar Heel nation. He was picked first overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1982 and stayed with the team until he retired in 1994.

    He was a three-time NBA champion, an NBA Finals MVP in 1988 and a seven-time NBA All-Star. He also had his jersey—this time, No. 42—retired by the Lakers.

    Dean Smith's Impact: Worthy took to Twitter to express his condolences, writing, "There are so many things I could say about Coach Dean Smith but simply put, he is the greatest man I've ever known."

Antawn Jamison

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    College Career: Antawn Jamison spent three years at North Carolina (1995-98). He averaged 19 points and 9.9 rebounds, including an impressive 22.2 points and 10.5 rebounds in his junior year.

    College Accolades: Jamison was a three-time first-team All-ACC player and the 1998 ACC Player of the Year and ACC Tournament MVP. He was also the national college player of the year in 1998. His No. 33 jersey was eventually retired.

    NBA Career: Jamison was drafted fourth overall by the Toronto Raptors in 1998 and played for six different teams until his retirement in 2014.

    He was a two-time NBA All-Star (2005, 2008) and the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2004. He averaged 18.5 ppg in his career.

    Dean Smith's Impact: As reported by Ben Standig of CSN Washington, Jamison spoke out about his relationship with Dean Smith after hearing the news of his passing on Sunday: 

    Coach Smith was a coach, mentor and friend. He had a huge impact on my career but had an even bigger impact on my life. I can vouch for all of the things that everyone else has said about him impacting their lives for the best. He was more like a father to me than a coach. In fact, it feels like I'm losing a father.

    I wouldn't be the man I am today if it wasn't for Coach Smith. My heart goes out to his family. It's definitely a sad day for my family and the Tar Heel nation.

Michael Jordan

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    College Career: Michael Jordan's greatness was certainly steered in the right direction under Dean Smith's tutelage at UNC. In his three years in college, Jordan averaged 17.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

    College Accolades: Jordan was a member of the 1982 national championship team during his freshman year, but he really hit his stride during his sophomore and junior seasons. He was a two-time consensus first-team All-American in 1983 and 1984, and the ACC Player of the Year and National College Player of the Year in 1984.

    NBA Career: It's hard to sum up Jordan's illustrious NBA career, but we'll try. In 1984 he was the third pick overall in the draft by the Chicago Bulls.

    Jordan went on to be the greatest basketball player of all time, with six NBA titles, six NBA Finals MVPs, five NBA MVPs and 14 NBA All-Star appearances. He was also a 10-time NBA scoring champion.

    Jordan retired for the final time in 2003 and went on to become the owner of the Charlotte Hornets.

    Dean Smith's Impact: Jordan and Smith had an extremely close relationship. No. 23 issued a statement where he described Smith as a "second father," as reported by Nick Schwartz of USA Today's For The Win

    Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith. He was more than a coach – he was my mentor, my teacher, my second father. Coach was always there for me whenever I needed him, and I loved him for it.

    In teaching me the game of basketball, he taught me about life. My heart goes out to Linnea and their kids. We've lost a great man who had an incredible impact on his players, his staff and the entire UNC family.