Recent preseason tournament, “Tyskie Cup”Championship photo. I was named MVP
Signing my National Letter of Intent (NLI) to attend the University of North Carolina was one of the proudest moments of my life. From as early as I can remember, I spent the majority of my time running up and down the basketball court. Between the Boys and Girls Club, AAU and my school teams, I don’t think it was physically possible to play more basketball than I did. Luckily for me, I was able to find a passion for something that would allow me to experience a world not seen by many.
Signing an NLI is the biggest honor to date in collegiate athlete’s life. It’s a culmination of years of dreams, countless hours perfecting your craft, and most likely conquering a few obstacles along the way. Usually family members or loved ones are by your side, helping to guide you through the selection process, which can prove to be quite stressful. The decision is never as simple as it may seem for those who have never been directly involved.
What part of the country will I spend the next four years of my life? Which coaching staff will be responsible for shaping me on and off the court? How will I fit into the team? How does this school fit into my life goals from an academic standpoint? Will this school compete against other top schools in their respective conference? These are just a few questions that were important to me when I was making my decision.
It was an easy choice to play for Hall of Fame Coach (Roy) Williams. I had no doubt that the UNC Basketball staff would make me better on and off the court. Of course, the history and tradition of Carolina Basketball sells itself. The beauty of the campus and town of Chapel Hill captivated me. First class education, as well as top-level athletics across the board also drew me in. On every one of my 20+ visits (19 unofficial) to UNC (which may have set an NCAA record), I felt that I had found a slice of heaven. I was eager to join the Carolina family, which feels even stronger today than when I represented my university on the court.
Two months ago, 10 years after I signed my first letter of intent, I signed my 7th “letter” to continue my professional career with Energa Czarni Sluspk in the Polish Tauron Basketball Liga. Every summer I have a ‘signing day’ deciding where in the world I will pursue the opportunity to play basketball for a living.
The process hasn’t changed much, except now I pick between countries and at times even continents where to play. Without official and unofficial visits, deciding on location and coaching staffs can be a bit more difficult. You have to rely on your agent, as well as network of players and coaches in Europe to help guide you. Of course with professional contracts, your compensation (salary, housing, transportation, etc.) are also major factors in your decision-making process. Most countries have at least a first and second division that change every year, so keeping up with the most competitive countries is also part of your homework as a player. There are also multiple international competitions in which top European clubs participate.
At the end of the day, I think all athletes are in quite similar positions. Whether you’re talking about a high school senior who signed to play his college career at Carolina, or my signing to play in Poland, getting better every day, competing at a high level and playing for championships are part of the athlete’s mentality and will not change for me, even after my days on the hardwood are over.
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Can Coach K be the proper disciplinarian?
Watching the U.S. Olympians roll over inferior opponents, it’s easy to ask what Mike Krzyzewski is still doing as coach of America’s Team. He has clearly become a figure head, letting his so-far superior team get off to slow starts and then using its so-far superior talent to blow open games against the likes of China and Venezuela.
The biggest test to date will be Wednesday at 6 p.m. against an Australia team that has the front line to match the Yanks and the overall talent to beat them. But if the U.S. needs some tough-love coaching between now and then, does Krzyzewski have that kind of relationship with the pro players?
He has done a tremendous job making the Olympics important again for NBA stars. After the debacle of 2004 in Athens, when Larry Brown lost 9 of his 12 players from the undefeated team that qualified for pool play the summer before, Krzyzewski was named the new USA Basketball coach and given ultimate power to pick the team and change the priorities.
His third Olympic team that went to Rio is sort of like the 2004 squad, with stars LeBron James and Stephan Curry opting out and Coach K having to fill the roster with the likes of Harrison Barnes who haven’t reached all-star status in the NBA. So here comes Australia with Andrew Bogut at center and Matthew Dellavedova at guard, guys who have played in NBA Finals and at the highest level against the world’s best.
Will a Coach K pep talk have any impact? He can warn them aplenty that they could lose to the Aussies, but during the game will he call a timeout and get in their faces, as would grizzled Olympic coach-in-waiting Greg Popovich, who is neither the politician nor elder statesman Krzyzewski has become. Pop wouldn’t hesitate to cuss out Carmelo Anthony or DeAndre Jordan if they aren’t taking it to Bogut, Aaron Bayne and the other Aussies.
In fact, I wonder why Coach K hasn’t turned it over to someone else by now. He has put the national team back together and built his own brand along with our national pride. He doesn’t say much at the Olympics, calmly conferring with long-time assistant Jim Boeheim. But will he throw a hissy fit like he does at Cameron, and will it work on hardened pros like it does on intimidated collegians? We shall see.http://chapelboro.com/sports/chanskys-notebook-intimidating-the-pros
Can an athletic competition be understood as a form of applied math?
Can it be mastered that way?
This Friday and Saturday, April 15-16, UNC plays host to the Basketball Analytics Summit, bringing together experts in the analytic field to discuss the game of basketball in all its forms – from improving performance on the court to improving marketing techniques and the fan experience off the court. Ken Pomeroy – the analytics expert behind the KenPom rankings – will be there as a special guest speaker.
UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School professor Deborah Stroman is organizing the event. She discussed it on WCHL with Aaron Keck this week.
The Basketball Analytics Summit takes place at the McColl Building (home of the Kenan-Flagler Business School) and the Kenan Center (home of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise).
Get more information and a full schedule – and register for the conference – online at BAS.UNC.edu.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/at-unc-the-science-of-basketball
Former UNC star forward James Worthy has been named to this year’s class of ACC Basketball Legends.
Worthy, along with 13 others will receive their honor during the ACC Tournament March 8-12 in Washington, D.C.
Worthy was the 1982 National Player of the Year and led the Tar Heels to a NCAA title, the first under Dean Smith.
He was a two-time All-American and was the first overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft.
His winning and dominant play continued at the professional level. Worthy was part of three NBA championship teams and was a seven-time All-Star.
The number 52 was retired at UNC, and he was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2003.
The legends will be features at the Legends Luncheon, on Friday March 11. See the ACC’s website for more details.
The 2016 ACC Legends Class:
Jim Hooley, Forward, Boston College
Grayson Marshall, Guard, Clemson
Jason Willams, Guard, Duke
Rowland Garrett, Forward, Florida State
BJ Elder, Guard, Georgia Tech
Darrell Griffith, Guard, Louisville
John Salmons, Forward, Miami
James Worthy, Forward, North Carolina
Anthony “Spud” Webb, Guard, NC State
Adrian Dantley, Forward, Notre Dame
Charles Smith, Forward, Pitt
Derrick Coleman, Forward, Syracuse
Norman Nolan, Forward, Virginia
Howard Pardue, Forward, Virginia Tech
Dave Odom, Head Coach, Wake Foresthttp://chapelboro.com/sports/acc/james-worthy-named-acc-legend
Two Tar Heels have been named to the Naismith Trophy Watch List.
Senior PG Marcus Paige and sophomore SF Justin Jackson made the 50-man early watch list.
Paige had 20 points and 5 assists in his season debut as UNC toppled the second-ranked Maryland Terrapins Tuesday night.
Jackson is averaging 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
Paige and Jackson were two of the nine nominees from the ACC.
Other ACC nominees are:
Virginia Senior SG Malcom Brogdon
Duke Sophomore SG Grayson Allen
Syracuse Senior SF Michael Gbinjie
Duke Freshman SF Brandon Ingram
Notre Dame Junior G Demetrius Jackson
Louisville Senior G Damion Lee
Miami G Sheldon McClellanhttp://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/paige-jackson-on-naismith-trophy-watch-list
Perfect. John Thompson is the first Dean Smith Award winner.
Dean Smith’s relationship went back to John Thompson’s days as a high school coach at St. Anthony’s in the nation’s capital. Thompson sent his adopted son, Donald Washington, to play for Smith and the Tar Heels as the third African- American in the UNC program after Charlie Scott and Bill Chamberlain. Although Washington left school midway through his sophomore season, Thompson and Smith became close friends. And Smith tabbed Thompson as an assistant coach on the 1976 U.S. Olympic team in Montreal.
Six short years later, after Thompson had taken over at Georgetown and was building an imperious program, the dear friends met in the 1982 national championship game at the Super Dome in New Orleans. The Tar Heels won a classic, and there were Thompson and Smith hugging afterward, the protégé truly happy that his mentor had finally won the big one.
A foot taller and from a far different background, Thompson stood for almost everything Smith stood for. And Big John was even more outspoken about causes than was the measured Smith. But they became closer than anyone ever knew. Supposedly, when the phone rang after 10 pm in the Smith home, the family knew who was calling, and the conversation often went on for hours.
Thompson was a champion on the court and a champion for his race, and his tough love and demands on his players getting an education were so similar to you know who. When the U.S. Basketball Writers launched the Dean Smith Award last spring, UNC Senior Associate Athletic Director Steve Kirschner predicted Thompson would be the first recipient for those very reasons. Demanding and loving all at once. And both Hall of Famers could really coach.
“It hit a soft spot in my heart, when I heard I was being considered,” Thompson said. And he added that, in his long life, he has never known a man quite like Dean Edwards Smith, who would be so happy that Big John was a charter member of his new club. Thompson turned 74 last week and is still heard on NCAA tournament radio broadcasts. Behind the scenes, he helps the game of basketball and the kids who play it and the men and women who coach it.
Just as the man for whom the Dean Smith Award is named did until he no longer could. A $100 per plate dinner for the Opening Doors Fund will be held here on November 10 to present the first award. Appropriate because both men opened so many doors for so many.http://chapelboro.com/featured/chanskys-notebook-charter-member
UNC basketball ranked fourth in average attendance last season, according to recently released numbers from the NCAA.
19,582 fans packed the Dean E. Smith Center on average for the Tar Heels during the 2014-2015 season.
ACC peer Syracuse led the nation in average attendance at 23,854 fans of the Orange.
Kentucky checked in at number one in overall attendance with 447,874 cheering for the Wildcats at home over the entire season.
Louisville joined Syracuse and UNC in the top five. The Cardinals checked in just above Carolina at number three.
NC State ranked 12th in average attendance. But the Wolfpack saw the largest average attendance jump from the previous season in the nation.
The only other ACC team in the top 25 was Virginia at number 23.
As a conference, the ACC saw the largest climb in average attendance, but checked in at second in fans per game behind the Big Ten.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-ranks-4th-in-avg-basketball-attendance
JP Tokoto was taken at number 58 overall in the two-round NBA Draft on Thursday night after leaving Carolina following his junior year.
Brian Geisinger, Assistant Producer and Senior Researcher for the David Glenn Show, spoke with WCHL’s Blake Hodge about Tokoto’s prospects with the Philadelphia 76ers.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tokotos-fit-in-philadelphia
The University of North Carolina has a long-standing tradition of sending its basketball players to the NBA. A breeding ground for sensational talents such as Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Rasheed Wallace, and Vince Carter, UNC has produced a star more recently in Harrison Barnes.
***Listen to the story***
A two-year member of Roy Williams’ program, Harrison Barnes entered the NBA draft in 2012 after his sophomore season at UNC. Since then, the standout shooting guard has been a starter for the Golden State Warriors in two of his three years in the league. In his second season with the Warriors, Barnes only started 24 of their 78 games, a change that he did not acclimate to very well.
“After my rookie season I felt like we had a good year, I felt like we could have kept the same guys and continued doing what we were doing. We just made some changes and it was just a different experience for me because I had come to the league and I was used to playing a certain way my rookie year, and to come and play a different role and play with a different unit and all that was why I struggled statistically,” Barnes recently told NBA.com.
Barnes’ statistical averages did take a hit in the 2013-2014 season coming off the bench; his field goal and three-point percentages dropped in his sophomore slump.
This season, his third, has by far been Barnes’ best. He started all 82 of the Warriors’ regular season games; he shot 48% from the field as well as 41% from three-point range, and took care of the ball, averaging less than one turnover per game in the regular season.
The rising star has not forgotten his collegiate experience, saying how his wish growing up was to play at North Carolina.
“That was a dream to play at Carolina. I remember I used to tell kids when I was 14 or 15 years old, I was like ‘I’m gonna play on the big stage, I’m going to go play at Carolina’ and these kids used to laugh me out of the gym. ‘Come on man, stop it. North Carolina? That’s the big stage.’ And that was always something I dreamed for and worked for, North Carolina was always the spot for me,” Barnes says.
Barnes has quickly found himself yet another family outside of his home state of Iowa in the Bay Area of northern California. The Golden State fans there have embraced him and have even given him a nickname: “The Senator.”
“That came from Jim Barnett [Warriors TV color analyst],” Barnes says. “I think we were just doing like a little Q&A interview my rookie year and he was like ‘You know you’re always going into politics and your answers are always so well-parsed I’m gonna start calling you “The Senator”,’ and I thought he was joking but he kept calling me that and calling me. Now every time he sees me he says ‘How’re you doing, Senator?’.”
Barnes has been known for his calm and often stately demeanor, even during his time at UNC, but his competitive side is no secret, either. As an important starter for the best team in the NBA, Barnes’ reputation grows with each passing game. Along with stars like Klay Thompson and MVP Stephen Curry, the Warriors have their eyes set on the highest of goals: winning an NBA championship.
“You know obviously it’s a very big accomplishment to win the division, that’s something we didn’t do obviously my first two years here. So, it’s a big goal, big milestone but it’s still a long journey to where we want to go,” Barnes says.
Starting their second round series this week against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Warriors are hoping to move on to the Western Conference Finals and face either the Houston Rockets or Los Angeles Clippers.
Next week on “Tar Heels in the Pros,” we’ll feature an ageless wonder – Vince Carter of the Memphis Grizzlies.http://chapelboro.com/heels-in-the-pros/tar-heels-pros-harrison-barnes
Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat selected former University of North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston with the 26th pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft.
The Heat reportedly then traded Hairston in a multi-player deal to the Charlotte Hornets, pending NBA approval.
Hairston scored 707 points in 71 games for the Tar Heels in 2011-12 and 2012-13. He played last season for the Texas Legends in the NBA Development League.
As a sophomore, Hairston led the Tar Heels in scoring at 14.6 points per game and made 89 three-pointers, the second-highest single-season figure in UNC history. In two collegiate seasons, Hairston averaged 10.0 points, shot 34.9 percent from three-point range and 80 percent from the free throw line.
The Greensboro, N.C., native scored a career-high 29 points against Virginia in 2013 and 28 against Miami in the 2013 ACC championship game, making a career-best six three-pointers in each of those games.
Hairston is the 15th Tar Heel to play for head coach Roy Williams and be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft.
Overall, he is the 46th first round pick from UNC and the 107th Tar Heel taken in any round in NBA Draft history.
“I am ecstatic for P.J.,” says Tar Heel head coach Roy Williams. “I think he’s going to be a great addition to the Hornets. I am happy that he will still play in state and for another Tar Heel, Michael Jordan. It certainly will make it easier to see him play. Life has given him another opportunity and he will take great advantage of that chance.”
The 2014 NBA Draft is the first in 22 years in which players from each of the three Triangle schools – North Carolina, Duke and NC State – were selected in the first round. Tonight, UNC’s P.J. Hairston, Duke’s Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood and NC State’s TJ Warren were first round picks. In 1992, UNC’s Hubert Davis was joined in the first round by Duke’s Christian Laettner and NC State’s Tom Gugliotta.
The following is by WCHL Sports
Hairston sat out the first ten games of the 2013-2014 season before the university announced it would not seek reinstatement of the junior guard. He received a traffic citation for reckless driving on July 28, less than a week after charges against him, stemming from a June 5 arrest, were dismissed.
In June, the Greensboro native was arrested and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving without a license after getting stopped at a license checkpoint. Those charges were dismissed on July 22 after he completed a drug assessment and provided the court his current driver’s license.
Following the arrest, it was discovered that Hairston was driving a 2013 GMC Yukon rented under the name Haydn Thomas, a convicted felon who has been linked to other college athletes. Hairston was also cited for speeding in May while driving a 2012 Camaro SS rented by Catinia Farrington, a woman who shares the same home address as Thomas.http://chapelboro.com/sports/professional/heat-choose-hairston-trade-hornets