North Carolina Basketball: Ranking the Top 50 Tar Heels of All Time
Respect. Success. Championships.
When most college basketball fans think of the North Carolina men's basketball program, they think in these or similar terms.
The Tar Heels are currently No. 3 on the Division I all-time wins list (2,033-728; behind Kansas and Kentucky).
The Tar Heels have appeared in a record 18 NCAA Final Fours and have won five NCAA Championships (1957, 1982, 1993, 2005 and 2009).
They have also won 17 ACC Tournament titles and 28 ACC regular season championships.
Two Tar Heel coaches, Frank McGuire and Dean Smith, established the historical success of the program.
Currently, Roy Williams continues the program's storied tradition.
Throughout the 100+ years of Tar Heels hoops, UNC has had an amazing collection of uber-talented players.
Many of them have been selected as National Player of the Year (POY) or Final Four Most Outstanding Player (MOP).
Others have been named on a variety of All-American lists or all conference teams.
Let's take a look at the Top 50 North Carolina Tar Heels of all-time.
While many of the UNC players went on to exceptional accomplishments in the NBA, we will attempt to limit the evaluation for this list to what they did in their college years.
Extra credit is given to players who contributed to the winning of conference titles, tournaments, and NCAA Championships.
If you think I have missed someone who deserves to be on this list...or I blew it including someone on this list, tell who and why in the comments block below.
50. Brandan Wright
Brandan Wright played one excellent season (2006-07) for Carolina, averaging 14.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 1.76 blocks per game.
Wright was named MVP of the ACC Tournament, becoming just the fifth freshman in conference history to win the award.
Wright was also named ACC Rookie of the Year and earned All-ACC Second Team honors.
49. Dudley Bradley
Dudley Bradley (1975-79) was a defensive specialist who earned the nickname "The Secretary of Defense."
As a senior, Bradley was named the 1979 ACC Tournament MVP.
Even though his career offensive statistics were not spectacular (4.4 points and 2.4 rebounds per game), Bradley's defensive dominance helped him to be an NBA first round pick in 1979.
48. John Kuester
John Kuester (1973-77) was an important part of some very talented Tar Heel teams.
Kuester was a tough defender and a great playmaker on teams that featured Bobby Jones, Walter Davis, Mitch Kupchak and many other Carolina stars.
As a senior, he earned the Most Valuable Player award of the ACC Tournament and NCAA East Regional Finals, helping UNC reach the NCAA Finals against Marquette.
47. Hubert Davis
Hubert Davis (1988-92) was an excellent shooter in his Tar Heel career.
After playing a lesser role his first two seasons at UNC, Davis averaged 11.8 points per game while connecting on 43.5 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
As a senior, Davis came on strong, averaging 21.4 points per game and was a First Team All-ACC selection.
46. Larry Brown
Larry Brown played point guard at UNC under legendary coaches Frank McGuire and Dean Smith from 1959-1963.
Brown helped the Tar Heels finish first in the ACC his sophomore year.
He led the team in scoring as a junior, averaging 16.5 ppg.
During his senior year, Brown averaged 14.2 points per game and was named All-ACC first team
45. George Lynch
George Lynch was a relentless defensive specialist for the Tar Heels from 1989-93.
When Lynch, a 6'8" combo forward, finished his career in Chapel Hill, he was the UNC record holder for most career steals (241).
He averaged 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.
Lynch was a Second Team All-ACC selection his junior season and a First Team selection his senior year.
Lynch's selfless play helped the Tar Heels win the 1993 NCAA Championship.
44. Dennis Wuycik
Dennis Wuycik (1969-72) was an undersized (6'6") forward who was selected twice to the All-ACC Team.
He led the Tar Heels in scoring in both his junior and senior seasons.
Wuycik played a crucial role in UNC winning the 1972 ACC Tournament title and later was named the MVP of the NCAA East Regional.
43. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is the only member of the current Tar Heels team to make this list.
Barnes was named a preseason All-American by the AP. He is the first freshman to ever receive this honor.
More than preseason hype, Barnes delivered during his first season in Chapel Hill.
After a average start, he was selected as the ACC Rookie of the Year.
Barnes scored 40 points in an ACC Tournament game against Clemson, a record for points by a Freshman in an ACC Tournament game.
42. Tommy LaGarde
Tommy LaGarde (1973-77) was a blue-collar type player for the Tar Heels. He did a whole lot of the dirty work on teams that featured more highly acclaimed players such as Phil Ford and Walter Davis.
LaGarde (6'10" 220 lbs) earned second-team All-ACC and second-team All-American honors during his senior season in Chapel Hill.
LaGarde put the "student" in student-athlete. He was selected twice as an Academic All-American.
41. Pete Brennan
Pete Brennan was an excellent shooting forward who posted a career double-double for the Tar Heels.
He was a main player on the Tar Heels 1957 NCAA Championship team.
Brennan was chosen as the 1958 ACC Men's Basketball Player of the Year, as well as a consensus NCAA All-American Second Team that same season.
40. Kenny Smith
Kenny Smith (1983-87) was an outstanding point guard for the Tar Heels.
The Jet averaged 12.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg and 6.0 apg (shooting 51.2 percent from field and 82.3 percent from the foul line) over his four years at UNC.
Smith was selected as a Second Team All-ACC performer his sophomore and junior seasons before being selected as a First Team All-ACC and First Team All-American his senior season.
39. Marvin Williams
Marvin Williams played one season (2004-05) for the Tar Heels, but what a season it was.
Williams averaged 11.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while only playing 22 minutes per game off the bench.
He was selected as the 2005 ACC Rookie of the Year and USBWA Freshman of the Year.
As sixth man, Williams was a key player on the Tar Heels' 2005 NCAA Championship Team
38. Bill Chamberlain
Bill Chamberlain (1969-72) was a player who has somewhat fallen inbetween the cracks in terms of Tar Heel history.
He finished with a career field goal percentage of 54 percent and earned second-team All-America honors in 1972.
Chamberlain was also selected as the 1971 NIT MVP.
37. Lee Shafer
Lee Shafer (1957-60) was an outstanding UNC forward in the late sixties, averaging double-digit scoring all three of his varsity years, with a high mark of 18.2 ppg his senior season.
In 1960, Shaffer was selected as the ACC Player of the Year. He was also named first-team All-ACC and received All-America honors in his final year.
36. Mitch Kupchak
Mitch Kupchak (1972-76) was the first four-year hoops player in UNC history (after the eligibility barring first-year students was overturned).
Kupchak averaged a double-double his last two seasons in Chapel Hill: 18.5 ppg, 10.8 rpg as a junior; 17.6 ppg and 11.3 rpg his senior season.
Kupchak shot 58.6 percent over his four years as a Tar Heel.
As a senior, he was selected as a second team All-American.
35. Wayne Ellington
Wayne Ellington (2006-09) had an excellent three years as a Tar Heel, averaging 14.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
Ellington was known as a solid on-ball defender.
As a junior, he helped lead UNC to the school's fifth NCAA Championship. Ellington was named the 2009 Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
34. J.R. Reid
J.R. Reid (6'9" 247 lbs) was an absolute physical freak at North Carolina.
Reid (1986-89) was a double-figure scorer each of his three years. He averaged 16.2 ppg and 7.6 rpg over his Tar Heel career.
During his time at UNC, the Tar Heels went 88-15.
Reid was a second team All-ACC selection and second team All-American his sophomore season, and a first team All-ACC selection and first team All-American his junior season.
33. Rasheed Wallace
Rasheed Wallace (1993-95) was a versatile big man who could play equally effective inside or out.
In his two years in Chapel Hill, Wallace averaged 13 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.
At the conclusion of his time at UNC, Wallace ranked as the leading career field goal shooter in ACC history with a 63.5 percentage.
He was named a second-team All-American by the AP his sophomore year at UNC
32. Joseph Forte
Joseph Forte's time (1999-2001) may not have been long at UNC but he accomplished much in the time he played for the Tar Heels.
Forte was the 2000 ACC Rookie of the Year as well as 2001 ACC Player of the Year.
Over his two years in Chapel Hill, Forte averaged 18.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
Forte was instrumental in helping UNC to the 2000 Final Four as a freshman. He was named the NCAA Regional Most Outstanding Player.
As a sophomore, Forte was a 2001 First Team All-American selection his sophomore season.
31. Eric Montross
Eric Montross was the classic low-post banger for the Tar Heels.
Montross shot 58.5 percent for his four years at UNC
He was an All-ACC selection and was named as a second team All-American both his junior and senior seasons.
He was part of the Tar Heels team that won the 1993 NCAA Championship against Michigan in 1993.
30. Brendan Haywood
Brendan Haywood (1997-2001) is the all-time Carolina blocked shots leader: for a game (10), season(120) or career (304).
Haywood recorded the first triple-double in school history against the Miami on December 4, 2000 with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks (also a UNC record).
He finished his college basketball career as the ACC's all-time leader in field goal percentage (63.7), better Rasheed Wallace's mark by 0.2 percent.
As a senior, Haywood earned second-team All-ACC and second-team All-American honors.
29. Shammond Williams
Shammond Williams (1994-98) was an outstanding combo guard who was known for his exceptional outside shooting.
When he finished his four years at Carolina, Williams held school records for most three point field goals attempted (233) and made (95), most three-pointers made in a game (8), as well as highest free throw percentage, season (91.1) and career (84.9).
Williams was selected as a Second Team All-ACC performer his junior and senior seasons. He was named a Second Team All-American his senior season.
28. Ed Cota
Ed Cota was one of the best floor generals in UNC history.
Cota owns many of the Tar Heel assists records, including most assists in a season (284) and in a career (1,030), most games with 10 assists or more in a season (10) and in a career (32).
Cota led UNC to three NCAA Final Four appearances,
He was the first player in NCAA history to score 1,000 points along with 1,000 assists and 500 rebounds.
Cota also played an NCAA-record 138 games without fouling out.
He was selected as Second Team All-ACC his sophomore through senior seasons.
27. York Larese
York Larese (1958-61) was a three-time All-ACC player, who was selected as a second team All-American his senior year.
Larese was a dead-eye shooter from the field, and was exceptional from the free throw line where he shot the ball instantly after receiving it from the official.
Larese still owns the school record for hitting 21 for 21 free throws in a game against Duke.
26. Doug Moe
Doug Moe (1958-61) was an excellent Tar Heel player
Moe twice was named to the All-ACC team and was selected as a first team All-American his senior season.
However, Moe's collegiate legacy was significantly stained with his confession of involvement in a point-shaving mess.
25. Vince Carter
Vince Carter (1995-98) may be one of the most flashy players in Tar Heel history, known for his jaw-dropping slam dunks and aerial acrobatics.
While he started playing for legendary UNC coach Dean Smith, Carter's prime Carolina years came under Bill Guthridge.
Carter averaged 12.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game over his three years in Chapel Hill.
He led the Tar Heels to consecutive ACC Championships and Final Fours in 1997 and 1998.
Carter was an All-ACC selection his junior and senior seasons, while being selected as a First Team All-American his junior season.
24. Al Wood
Al Wood (1977-81) may have been the most pure shooter in UNC history.
His combined four-year average was 16 ppg and 5.0 rpg.
As a 6'6" wing, Wood's career 56 percent shooting was unbelievable.
He was selected as a second team All-American in both his junior and senior seasons and helped the Tar Heels get to the 1981 NCAA National Championship game before losing to Indiana.
23. Jerry Stackhouse
Jerry Stackhouse (1993-95) only played two years at UNC but he left his signature on the Tar Heels' history books.
Stackhouse averaged 15.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor.
Stackhouse earned the ACC Tournament’s MVP Award as a freshman.
He was named to the All-ACC Tournament team as a sophomore.
In the NCAA Tournament of that year, Stackhouse was an essential player to UNC’s run to the Final Four, earning him first-team All-American and All-ACC honors.
Sports Illustrated named him the National Player of Year.
22. Ty Lawson
Ty Lawson was one of the top point guards in UNC school history.
Lawson averaged 13.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg, and 5.8 apg over his three years on campus.
Lawson was named the 2009 ACC Player of the Year, the first time a point guard had won the ACC's highest honor since fellow Tar Heel Phil Ford won the award in 1978.
He was also selected as a second team All-American as a junior, as helped lead UNC to its fifth national title.
Lawson won the Bob Cousy Award in 2009 and was named to the NCAA All-Tournament team.
He also holds the record for most steals in a NCAA championship game (8) and the second-best career assist-turnover ratio in ACC history (2.78).
21. Brad Daugherty
Brad Daugherty was one of the most steady players in UNC history.
Daugherty was a two-time first-team All-ACC and first-team All-American in 1986.
He set the UNC record for career field goal percentage at 62 percent. Daugherty is still No. 3 in UNC and ACC history in field goal percentage.
He is the eighth-leading scorer and sixth-leading rebounder in Carolina history
Daugherty is the second player in conference history to average 20 points and shoot over 60 percent from the field in a season.
20. Sean May
Sean May was a dominant double-double dude at UNC, averaging 15.8 ppg and 10 rpg. over his three years.
May was selected to the All-ACC team and was named a First Team All-American both his sophomore and junior seasons.
As a junior, May helped the Tar Heels win the 2005 NCAA Championship, where he was named the Final Most Outstanding Player.
19. Rashad McCants
Rashad McCants (2002-05) had a terrific three years as a Tar Heel.
McCants averaged a combined 17.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg and 2.1 apg, while shooting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc.
As a freshman, McCants led UNC in scoring and was named to the All-ACC Rookie team.
As a sophomore, he led the ACC in scoring with 20 points per game. He was named to the All-ACC First Team and a Second Team All-American.
As a junior, McCants helped the Tar Heels win the NCAA Championship and was named again as a second team All-American.
McCants is still in second place in school history in 221 made 3-pt shots.
18. Jack Cobb
Jack Cobb led the Tar Heels to their first undefeated season in 1924 and to three straight Southern Conference (UNC's conference prior to the establishing of the ACC) titles (1924, 1925, 1926).
Cobb was named national player of the year for 1926 by the Helms Athletic Foundation.
Cobb is one of eight Tar Heels basketball players who have had their jersey retired.
17. Raymond Felton
Raymond Felton was a tough, physical point guard for the Tar Heels, helping lead the fourth NCAA Championship team in 2005.
Felton averaged 12.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.9 assists over his three years playing for Carolina.
Tar Heel fans knew that they were in for something special when Felton recorded 10 assists in his first game as a freshman and set the freshmen record for assists in a season with 236.
He has the school record for most assists in a game (18) against George Mason in his sophomore season.
Felton was a Second Team All-ACC selection his freshman and sophomore seasons and a First Team selection his junior season.
He was an All-American selection his senior year as well as being named the Bob Cousy Award winner, given to the top point guard in the nation.
16. Bob McAdoo
Bob McAdoo, after playing two seasons of JuCo ball at Vincennes Junior College, played one fantastic season (1971-72) at North Carolina.
Especially in his day, McAdoo was a fantastic outside shooter for a big man (6'9" 210 lbs).
He averaged 19.5 ppg and 10.1 rpg, making 51.6 percent of his shots from the field.
McAdoo was an All-ACC and All-ACC Tournament selection, as well as being named to the NCAA East Regional and Final Four all-tournament teams.
15. Bob Lewis
Bob Lewis (1964-67) was a prolific-scoring wing player for UNC.
Though he was a 6'3" forward, Lewis scored 21 ppg as a sophomore and 27.4 ppg as a junior.
On December 16, 1965, he scored 49 points against Florida State, the most ever for a UNC player.
He currently ranks tenth all time in scoring at UNC with 1,836 career points.
He was a two-time All-ACC and two-time All-American selection.
14. Walter Davis
Walter Davis (1974-77) was a great all-around player for the Tar Heels, ranking ninth at Carolina in scoring (1,863 points) and 12th in assists (409).
As a combo SG/SF, Davis posted a field goal percentage of 53.1 and hit 77.3 percent of his FTs.
For all of his offensive accomplishments, Davis was known as one of the best on-ball defenders in UNC history.
Davis was a Second Team All-ACC selection during his junior season.
Sweet D was a First Team All-ACC, All-East Regional and All-Final Four performer in his senior season (1977).
In 2002, Davis was selected as a member of the ACC's 50th Anniversary Team.
13. Larry Miller
Larry Miller, in his three varsity seasons (1966-68), averaged 20.9, 21.9 and 22.4 points a game for a career mark of 21.8.
Miller averaged a career double-double even though he was shorter (6'4") than most front-court players.
He set a school record by scoring in double figures in 64 consecutive games - a mark that still stands today.
Miller earned ACC Player of the Year honors in 1966 and 1967 and led the Tar Heels to back-to-back Final Fours.
He is one of only two players to win the ACC Tournament MVP.
Miller was named in 2002 to the ACC 50th Anniversary Team.
12. Bobby Jones
Bobby Jones (1971-74) was one of the most complete and balanced stars in UNC history.
Jones (6'9" 210 lbs) was one of two players to lead the ACC in field goal percentage three times
He is still fourth in UNC history in career field goal percentage at 60.8 percent, while averaging 13.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
Jones was a tireless defender and the hardest workers on any team he ever played.
During his season, Jones earned All-America honors from the USBWA and All-ACC honors in 1974.
11. Mike O'Koren
Mike O'Koren was selected as a first-team All-American for three straight years (1978-80) and All-ACC .
A 6'7" forward, O'Koren was an amazing shooter, shooting 57.2 percent from the floor during his collegiate career, including an amazing 64.3 percent his sophomore season.
For his four years at UNC, he averaged 15.1 ppg and 7.0 rpg.
O'Koren was named in 2002 to the ACC 50th Anniversary Men's Basketball Team.
10. Charlie Scott
Charlie Scott (1967-70) was a trailblazer and an incredible player.
Scott was UNC's first African American scholarship athlete.
He led the Tar Heels to three straight ACC titles and two straight Final Four appearances.
Scott averaged 27.1 ppg and 8.6 rpg his senior season. (Three year averages - 22.1 ppg and 7.1 rpg).
He was a consensus second team All-American in both his junior and senior seasons.
Scott was named the ACC Co-Athlete of the Year in 1969.
In 2002, Scott was selected as a member of the ACC's 50th Anniversary team.
9. George Glamack
George Glamack was a two-time All-American (1940 and 1941) and two time Helms Foundation Player of the Year award (the only national POY at the time) winner.
Glamack, a 6'7" giant (extremely tall during that era) was nicknamed the Blind Bomber because of his poor eyesight and remarkably accurate hook shot.
He is one of eight players to have his jersey number retired by UNC.
8. Sam Perkins
Sam Perkins (1980-84) was one of the most outstanding front-court players in UNC history.
Perkins currently is the UNC No. 3 all-time scorer (2,145 points) and No. 2 in rebounding (1,167 boards).
"Big Smooth" was a big part of the 1982 NCAA Championship team.
He was selected as a second team All-American in his sophomore season (1982) and a first teamer in both his junior and senior seasons.
Perkins was named in 2002 to the ACC 50th Anniversary Men's Basketball Team.
7. Billy Cunningham
Billy Cunningham (1963-65) was selected three times to the All-ACC Team.
Cunningham was named as the 1965 ACC Player of the Year.
In his UNC career, he scored 1,709 points (24.8 points per game), and grabbed 1,062 rebounds (15.4 rebounds per game).
Cunningham had 60 career double-doubles in 69 varsity games.
He was the ACC leading rebounder all three of his years at North Carolina.
The Kangaroo Kid still holds the UNC single game records for both scoring (48 points) and rebounding (27 boards).
Cunningham was a three-time All-American selection and was named to the 2002 ACC 50th Anniversary Team.
6. Antawn Jamison
Antawn Jamison (1995-98) had a stellar three-year career for the Tar Heels, where he averaged a combined 19 ppg and 9.9 rpg.
Jamison was selected as a second team All-American in his sophomore season and a first team All-American his junior year.
He won most of the National Player of the Year awards in his third and final season.
Jamison was named in 2002 to the ACC 50th Anniversary Men's Basketball team
Jamison is one of eight Tar Heel players to have their jersey/number retired.
5. Lennie Rosenbluth
Lennie Rosenbluth (1955-57) was one of the great Tar Heel players in the 1950's
In his sophomore season, Rosenbluth was UNC's leading scorer and was named third team All-American, averaging 25.5 ppg and 11.7 rebounds.
In his junior season, he again achieved All-America honors, this time split between various first and second team selections. He again led the Tar Heels in scoring with a 26.7 average.
Until Christian Laettner, Rosenbluth, during his senior season, was the only collegian to be named NCAA National Player of the Year, ACC Player of the Year, ACC Tournament MVP, and NCAA regional MVP in the same season (1957).
Rosenbluth led the Tar Heels to the school's first NCAA Championship in 1957, defeating Wilt Chamberlain and the Kansas Jayhawks.
4. James Worthy
James Worthy (1979-82) had an outstanding three years in Chapel Hill.
The 6'9" forward averaged 14.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg and 2.5 apg.
Worthy was named to most first team All-American teams his senior year. He also shared
Big Game James’ crowning performance came in the 1982 NCAA Championship Game where he scored 28 points on 13-of-17 shooting, leading North Carolina to its second NCAA Championship. For this, Worthy was selected as the Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
Worthy was named in 2002 to the ACC 50th Anniversary Men's Basketball Team.
3. Phil Ford
Phil Ford (1974-78) was the best point guard in Tar Heel history.
Ford finished his career as the first player in ACC history to score over 2,000 points and hand out at least 600 assists.
He won most of the National Player of the Year awards, plus the ACC Player of the Year award in his senior season.
He was a First Team All-American selection in both his junior and senior seasons.
Because of his success in running Dean Smith's four-corners offense, Ford was the face of the program for years after his departure.
Ford was named in 2002 to the ACC 50th Anniversary Men's Basketball Team
2. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan (1981-84) was a two-time (1983, 1984), first team All-American at UNC.
In his third and final year in Chapel Hill, Jordan won most of the National Player of the Year awards.
Jordan was the 1982 ACC Freshman of the Year and the 1984 ACC Player of the Year.
Also, in his first year at North Carolina, he hit the game-winning jumper in the 1982 NCAA Championship game against Georgetown.
Michael Jordan averaged 17.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 1.8 apg in his three years as a Tar Heel.
1. Tyler Hansbrough
Tyler Hansbrough was the greatest player in Tar Heel history.
Hansbrough was a unanimous selection all four of his years in Chapel Hill (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009) for the ACC All-Conference Team.
Hansbrough was named on some type of All-American list all four years.
He was selected as the 2006 ACC Freshman of the Year, and the 2008 ACC Player of the Year.
He is the ACC's all-time leading scorer and the first player in ACC history to lead his school in both scoring and rebounding in each of his four seasons.
He holds the NCAA record for made free throws in a career (982).
He holds the ACC record with 78 20-point games in a career.
In 2008, he won the Wooden Award and was the National Player of the Year.
While others have gone on to more spectacular NBA careers, no one has contributed to the success of Tar Heel basketball like Tyler Hansbrough.