3 UNC Men’s Basketball Players Named to Preseason Watch List

Three members of the UNC men’s basketball team have been named to preseason watch lists by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

The preseason lists came out on Tuesday, with Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson and Justin Jackson placed on the rundown of the top players in the country at each of their positions.

The senior Paige was named to the Bob Cousy Point Gurad watch list, while senior forward Brice Johnson was named for the Karl Malon Power Forward position and Justin Jackson singled out for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year positional award. Each list contains 20 of the top players at each position in the country.

Paige is the unquestioned leader of the Tar Heel team. The senior from Iowa earned first team All-ACC honors in 2014 and was named to the second and third teams in 2015. Paige needs just nine three pointers to set the all-time record at UNC. Carolina is the only school with three Cousy Award winners, according to a release from the university, with past recipients Raymond Felton, in 2005, Ty Lawson, in 2009, and Kendall Marshall, in 2012.

The South Carolina native Johnson, another senior, averaged nearly 13 points and eight rebounds for the Tar Heels last season on his way to being named third-team All-ACC.

Jackson, just a sophomore, came into Carolina as one of the most highly-recruited high school seniors in the country. As a freshman, the Texas native averaged 10.7 points per game and scored in double figures in six of the seven post-season games.

The Hall of Fame is scheduled to announce the 20 pre-season candidates for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award for the nation’s top center later this week.

The watch lists will be narrowed to 10 candidates in mid-February and five finalists in March, then presented to Cousy, Erving, Malone and their respective selection committees. The winners of the awards will be presented at the 2nd annual ESPN College Basketball Awards Show from Club Nokia in Los Angeles on Friday, April 8th.


Dean Smith and Bill Thorpe Added to Social Justice Memorial

Under a perfectly Carolina blue sky on Sunday, the UNC Gospel Choir sang to a crowd of citizens, community leaders and local elected officials gathered at Peace and Justice Plaza where two new names were being added to the granite stone that celebrates local leaders for their work on social justice issues.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt alluded to some of the history of the location.

“With community support, we believed it was appropriate to honor some significant members of our community members in this space,” he says. “Members who have participated in the demonstrations and the speak outs, who have provided the energy, the intellect and the enthusiasm to support the great words and the fights that were brought to the ground right here.”

Those two names added were Town Council member Bill Thorpe and legendary UNC basketball coach Dean Smith.

Smith will long be remembered by college basketball fans for the work he did leading the Tar Heel program for three decades, winning two national championships and cultivating Carolina basketball into one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

But many who knew Smith on a more personal level remember him as someone dedicated to several social justice issues, one of which was integration.

William Thorpe, Bill Thorpe’s son, recalls some of the behind-the-scenes work orchestrated by Smith when recruiting Charlie Scott, who was the first African-American to attend North Carolina on an athletic scholarship. Thorpe says Smith asked Bobby Gersten if his son would be able to room with Scott because Gersten, who is Jewish, had seen some of the same marginalization in the past.

“This is the sensitivity of Dean Smith,” he says. “And, not only Charlie, could you have maybe Eddie Fogler and Jim Delany, could they kind of help ease the transition for Charlie and help him to adjust socially?”

The 95-year-old Gersten, UNC’s oldest living athlete, also spoke at the celebration. He says he remembers hearing from his son, who did end up rooming with Scott.

“I called my son Richard and said, ‘Richie, you know Charlie is in a unique situation, very difficult, and he’s going to need your help socially,’” Gersten recalls. “And Richie said to me, ‘Daddy, do me a favor, worry about me not him. He’s had a date every night, and I haven’t talked to a girl yet.’

“Charlie’s social life was tremendous from then on and everybody was crazy about him.”

Recruiting Charlie Scott was just one of the few examples of Smith’s mindset on social issues. Scott Smith, Dean’s Son, says Dean’s reach spilled over into local politics.

“I think he was also very proud that he helped Howard Lee get elected Mayor of Chapel Hill,” Smith says. “Those are the things that are important to him.”

Lee was the first African-American Mayor of Chapel Hill.

Bill Thorpe ran for Chapel Hill Town Council eight times, for the first time in 1975. He was elected to his first term in 1977. During his second term, Thorpe was a strong voice behind the movement for Chapel Hill to observe Martin Luther King Junior Day before it became a federal holiday.

Thorpe was also very influential in the renaming of Airport Boulevard to Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard, as well as the establishment of a paid internship program with the Town of Chapel Hill for UNC students.

Durham representative Larry Hall is the Democratic leader in the North Carolina House of Representatives. Hall and Thorpe were two members of what they called “The Breakfast Club,” which met up to discuss issues in local government. Hall calls Thorpe the architect of his career.

“[Thorpe] really believed that if you had a position, if you were elected, that you were there for a reason,” Hall says, “not to sit quietly, not to be an observer, but to be a very active participant and represent those principles that you were known for, that you campaigned on, that you assured people of.”

Bill Thorpe and Dean Smith. Two of the now 13 names forever inscribed and remembered for their work on social justice issues.


UNC Football Rallies to Support the ‘Save the Fox’ Campaign

The UNC football team is joining in on the “Save the Fox” campaign aimed at helping Superior Court Judge Carl Fox.

Fox is a UNC alumnus who was diagnosed in April with cancer where the bone marrow fails to make enough healthy blood cells.

Thousands of community members have participated in bone marrow drives to register new donors into the bone marrow database, hoping to find a donor match for Fox. After football practice on Tuesday, more than 70 Carolina players and coaches voluntarily participated in the registration process, according to the university.

Coach Larry Fedora said in his weekly radio show on Tuesday night, “The football program is always looking to help in our community and this is a great opportunity to assist someone who not only went to the University of North Carolina as an undergrad, but also got his law degree from UNC and has served our state for more than 30 years. Our thoughts and prayers are with Carol as he battles this disease.”

A release from goheels.com says other registration drives have been organized. On Friday, fans at the UNC volleyball match vs. Virginia can register in the lobby of Carmichael Arena with Delete Blood Cancer. This is the annual “Turn it Pink” match to honor all cancer survivors. The match starts at six o’clock. Then, on Saturday evening, a Delete Blood Cancer registry table will be set up at the men’s soccer game at Fetzer Field at seven o’clock. Finally, next Saturday, October 17, a Delete Blood Caner registry table will be set up for fan participation in Tar Heel Town before the football game against Wake Forest. UNC says a registration table will also be available on the Kenan Stadium concourse.


Chapel Hill To Honor Smith And Thorpe For Social Justice Work

The roster of names on the granite marker outside the Post Office-Courthouse on East Franklin Street will grow longer on Sunday, as UNC Basketball Coach Dean Smith and Town Council member Bill Thorpe join the list of 13 leaders to be posthumously honored for their activism.

William Thorpe is Bill Thorpe’s son. He says the honor means so much to his family.

Bill Thorp

Bill Thorpe. Photo via Town of Chapel Hill.

“Not everybody’s name gets on the Peace and Justice Plaza. You really have to have shown a commitment to furthering the cause of peace and justice in the Chapel Hill community,” says Thorpe.

Bill Thorpe was elected to three terms on the town council between 1977 and 2008. He died in office during his 11th year of service on the council.

During that time, he led Chapel Hill to become the first town in the nation to observe the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. as an official holiday. He pushed for the town to divest from companies that supported the Apartheid regime in South Africa in the 1980s, and helped create the town’s first paid internship program.

William Thorpe says his father’s good work continued during the years he was out of office as well.

“Even as a private citizen, he wanted to serve the Chapel Hill community. He was the one, more than any other citizen, who was instrumental in bringing to the Town Council the whole idea of renaming Airport Boulevard to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. That was Bill Thorpe.”

Dean Smith at 1997 Eastern Regionals in Syracuse. Photo via Town of Chapel Hill.

Dean Smith at 1997 Eastern Regionals in Syracuse. Photo via Town of Chapel Hill.

Coach Smith is of course known worldwide as one of the most beloved figures in basketball, but he’s also being recognized for his commitment to social justice. During the 1960’s, he recruited Charles Scott, the first black scholarship athlete at UNC, and worked to desegregate local businesses. Smith was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.

Town leaders, colleagues of those being honored, and family members will make remarks and share memories at the unveiling ceremony at three o’clock, followed by a reception in the lobby of the Post Office.

The Wallace Parking Deck at 150 E. Rosemary Street directly behind the plaza is free on Sundays.


Compass Center Holds Events for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The Compass Center for Women and Families is holding events throughout the month of October to raise awareness for domestic violence victims.

Mary Parry is the development director at the Compass Center, and she says the organization offers many forms of support to the community.

“Through our programs with career and financial services, access to legal resources,” she lists. “We work with local public schools in the health classrooms, working with prevention.

“And we also are Orange County’s primary resource for domestic violence crisis services.”

Parry says it can be hard initially for victims of domestic violence to come forward and ask for help.

“Trusting is an important part of being comfortable reaching out,” she says. “And Compass Center is a place with a very supportive environment for people to reach out. Not only victims, but friends and family of victims who might be concerned about situations that their loved ones are in can reach out to us.

“We have a 24-hour domestic violence hotline, and we have confidential services.”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. And the Compass Center is holding events throughout the month to raise awareness and funds to continue providing these services to the community.

“One we were really excited to find out about was an offer by City Kitchen of Chapel Hill at University Place,” she says. “All month long, City Kitchen will be donating $5 to Compass Center for every signature drink that is ordered.

“So City Kitchen has come up with the Berry Mint Compass, which is a drink that folks can order anytime through the month of October and Compass Center will receive that support.”

Parry says they are taking the opportunity to ask the community to come to City Kitchen for a happy hour Thursday night from six until nine o’clock.

“Inviting the community to come out, take home a little bit of information about domestic violence and our impact in the community,” she says, “and just meet with out supporters in the community to celebrate our impact.”

Events will be held over the next few weeks, culminating with a screening of the movie Private Violence and a panel discussion at the Varsity Theatre on October 28.


Chapel Hill Police Charge Durham Man with 7 Felony Counts

An arrest has been made in connection with a string on break-ins.

Keith Demetrius Wright is facing seven felony charges after being taken into custody by Chapel Hill Police. An Alert Carolina message that was sent to the campus community on Tuesday recounts incidents dating back to September 21, with the majority taking place near Greek housing.

Keith Demetrius Wright via Chapel Hill Police

Keith Demetrius Wright via Chapel Hill Police

Chapel Hill Police Lieutenant Josh Mecimore says the 20-year-old from Durham was taken into custody early Wednesday morning at 303 East Franklin Street, the address of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity House.

“He was attempting to commit another break-in,” he says. “Officers were watching a couple of different locations overnight and into the morning hours, observed a suspicious person and then eventually were able to determine that he was attempting to break-in to a location.”

Mecimore says that officers were able to connect the suspect to some of the unresolved cases.

“[The arrest] kind of started the whole ball rolling on getting the charges and then finding some other evidence that he had in his possession,” Mecimore says, “that may lead to even more charges for us or for another agency possibly.”

Mecimore adds police had a good description of the suspect from the previous incidents.

“I’m not sure if they had specifically identified this person,” he says. “I know that our investigators had a very good description and some surveillance video of the person.”

Wright is facing two counts of felony larceny of a motor vehicle, two counts of felony burglary, two counts of felony breaking and entering to a motor vehicle, one count of felony larceny, one count of misdemeanor damage to property, and one count of misdemeanor larceny.

Wright was also served with three warrants for probation violation.

Additional charges may be coming, according to Mecimore, depending on the result of the investigation.

Wright is being held in the Orange County Jail under a $110,000 secured bond.

His first court appearance is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

If you have any information on Wright or the other incidents Chapel Hill Police are investigating, you are asked to contact authorities.


UNC Researcher Wins Nobel Prize

A UNC researcher has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Aziz Sancar was one of three recipients of the award from the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden, announced on Wednesday.

Sancar spoke with WCHL’s Blake Hodge about winning the award. Listen below:


Sancar is the Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the UNC School of Medicine.

Sancar says in a news release from UNC that he got the call early Wednesday morning, “It was 5 a.m. so I was a bit incoherent. But I managed to thank him and told them it was an incredible honor.”

Sancar has been at UNC since 1982, according to the university. He was honored with the Nobel Prize for his work on mapping the cellular mechanisms that underlie DNA repair. Sancar says this work is already being used in cancer treatment.

Sancar shares the award with Paul Modrich of the Duke University School of Medicine and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Tomas Lindahl of the Francis Crick Institute and Clare Hall Laboratory in Great Britain.


Unopposed Carrboro Candidates Use Campaign Season to Promote Voter Turnout

Municipal races will be over in less than a month, and candidates in Carrboro are taking the opportunity to urge voters to make their voice heard.

While most eyes in local politics are focusing on the races for Chapel Hill Mayor and Town Council as well as the Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School Board, the candidates in Carrboro are focusing on voter involvement.

Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle and Board of Aldermen members Bethany Chaney, Michelle Johnson and Damon Seils are all running for re-election this year unopposed. But they are not resting on their laurels. They have taken it upon themselves to encourage residents to still exercise their civic duty of voting, according to Chaney.

“I know that I am particularly interested in just hearing from voters,” she says, “either affirming that what the Board of Aldermen is doing now is heading in the right direction or telling us that, ‘no, it’s not.’

“When people show up to the polls, they actually have a choice; they can vote for one of us, two of us, all of us, or write in somebody’s name. And I think it’s still worth it to show up at the polls, even in an uncontested race, so that you can do that.”

Seils says the candidates are taking up this voter-involvement initiative in the time they would have spent running a campaign.

“In terms of our own sort of individual campaigns,” he says, “we have elected instead to focus on this more general issue of getting people to the polls.

“I think, as Bethany said, not only are we interested in hearing from people, we are politicians after all we want to know how we’re doing and how people think we’re doing.”

Seils was also quick to point out there are races on the ballot where Carrboro residents can still make an impact.

“The Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools School Board is on the ballot,” he says. “It’s an incredibly important election this year. There are four seats up for election; two incumbents are not running for re-election.

“This is an opportunity for folks to really shape the future of the school system in this community, and it’s a rare opportunity.”

Chaney adds on to the importance of the school board vote because she says there are no Carrboro residents currently on the board.

“There’s an argument to be made that context is really important,” she says. “Where you live shapes your view of how things are going in the schools or shapes your opinion of how your child is doing in the schools.

“I think it’s something for Carrboro citizens to be thinking about.”

Lavelle says, while some residents choose not to vote in municipal elections, it is important to not get out of the routine of voting.

“Part of what we’re doing is reminding people about our election that’s coming up this fall,” she says. “But I think it’s extremely important for people to get in the habit of voting, because next fall it’s going to be so critical for the state of North Carolina for many reasons.”

The 2016 election will include races for the US Senate, Governor and County Commissioner, among other races.

Early voting for this year’s municipal races in Orange County starts on October 22nd and Election Day in November 3rd.


UNC Joins Coalition Aiming to Improve Admission Process

The University of North Carolina has joined a diverse coalition of public and private colleges and universities that is coming together to improve the college admission application process.

The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success is developing a free platform of online tools to streamline the experience of planning for and applying to college for all students.

Steve Farmer is the Vice Provost for Enrollment and Admission at Carolina, and he tells WCHL’s Blake Hodge more about Carolina’s involvement in the project.


UNC Faculty Assembly Urge Governor to Veto Legislation

Faculty assembly leaders are urging Governor Pat McCrory to veto legislation concerning the UNC System.

Faculty leadership for the UNC System sent a letter to Governor Pat McCrory asking him to veto a bill that would set term limits for members of the UNC Board of Governors.

The letter to the governor, which is dated for last Friday, claims the legislation “purports to correct but in reality reinforces the politicization of Board of Governors appointments.”

Senate Bill 670 imposes term limits on appointees of the 32-member board to serve no more than three four-year terms. The bill also adjusts the process for selecting a new System President; it says at least three final candidates shall be submitted to the full board. The selection of a President-elect would require a majority of votes from the entire board.

An earlier provision called for the final three candidates to be made public; it was later removed before the bill was passed.

The letter to the governor, which was first reported on by the News & Observer, says, while faculty have been critical of the board, “there is no possible circumstance in which the faculty would support laws that strengthen the legislature’s arbitrary power to dictate the composition of the board.”

The letter summarizes that “the point is that any goal ill-obtained, whether laudable or not, is merely a precedent for further abuse of power.”

WCHL asked the governor’s office for an update on McCrory’s intention regarding Senate Bill 670 but did not receive a response.