One on One: Taking a Knee and Remembering Dean Smith and Charlie Scott

Do you grit your teeth when an athlete or performer takes a knee during the National Anthem before a game begins?

We have mixed feelings, don’t we?

Like UNC-Chapel Hill basketball coach Roy Williams, who was angry when he first heard about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s pre-game protests of police violence against black men.

Then, after talking to members of his team, Williams changed his mind and recognized that Kaepernick was not saying that our country was bad.  But there is a specific problem, Williams says, and “I think he is correct.”

Williams’ comments reminded old-timers of an earlier time when another Carolina basketball coach took unpopular stands on racial matters and supported his black players, who were dealing with special challenges because of their race.

Veteran sports journalist Art Chansky tells this story in his new book, “Game Changers: Dean Smith, Charlie Scott, and the Era That Transformed a Southern College Town.”

Chansky’s story begins in 1961 when the now-legendary Dean Smith succeeded Frank McGuire as head basketball coach in Chapel Hill and a junior high school kid in Harlem named Charles Scott was hanging around the playground mostly watching other bigger guys play basketball.

Meanwhile, Chansky writes, “On the surface, Chapel Hill was idyllic, with large colonial homes bordering Franklin Street as it wound up to and through the village.”

However, “Not far beneath the apparently tranquil surface, Chapel Hill was in turmoil.”

The few liberal leaders in town “faced opposition from the long-held convictions of southern segregationists, many of whom were prominent business leaders in the town.”

“It’s hard to imagine Carolina basketball and Chapel Hill if Dean Smith had never come,” writes Chansky.

Meanwhile, in 1963, Scott had made his way to North Carolina to attend high school and play basketball at Laurinburg Institute, an all-black boarding school.

His basketball talents caught the eye of Davidson College coach Lefty Driesell, who persuaded Scott to play for him. “Lefty was the first guy to recruit me,” Scott told Chansky. “If there was no Lefty, there would be no Charlie Scott.”

Chansky explains in detail how Smith and the officials at Laurinburg got Scott to change his mind and go to Carolina.

Chansky writes, “It’s good that Charlie Scott wasn’t born three years earlier. Chapel Hill was less ready for him in the early 1960s. Over the course of the decade, it went from a town clearly divided by race to eventually electing (and twice re-electing by overwhelming margins) Howard Lee as the first black mayor in a predominantly white municipality in the South.”

Although the racial climate in Chapel Hill had improved by the time Scott arrived, he was still a black man in a predominantly white world. He was uncomfortable. He and his first-year roommate hardly spoke. For friendships, he traveled to North Carolina Central in Durham.

Coach Smith gave Scott full support, Chansky writes, but “there was no playbook to guide the complicated group dynamics on Carolina’s first integrated team.”

Scott told Chansky he regretted not forming any enduring friendships at UNC.  “You did things with other people in college that you had lifelong relationships with,” he said. “I was not able to do that; it was a choice I made and I understand that. It wasn’t an experience I would wish upon my kids.”

Scott said his children had a much better time when they came to Carolina. They obtained what their father had missed. “My son and my daughter had a fantastic experience. They enjoyed everything about Carolina. Shaun goes back now and he sees a friend, that’s great. I didn’t have that opportunity.”

Thanks to Scott and Smith, black students can have even better experiences at Chapel Hill.


But still not good enough, Smith and Scott would tell us.



D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. Preview the upcoming program on UNC-MX digital channel Time Warner #1276) on Fridays at 8 p.m.  This Thursday’s (October 27) guest is Lee Smith, author of “Dime Store.”
 (Next week’s (October 30, November 3) guest is Ron Rash, author of “Above the Waterfall.”
To view prior programs:
For upcoming programs:
Thursday 5pm October 27, Lee Smith, author of “Dime Store”
Sunday noon October 30 and Thursday 5pm November 3, Ron Rash, author of “Above the Waterfall”
Sunday noon November 6 and Thursday 5pm November 10 John Hood author of “Catalyst: Jim Martin and the Rise of North Carolina Republicans”
Sunday noon November 13 and Thursday 5pm November 17 Ben Fountain, author of “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”
Sunday noon November 20 and Thursday 5pm November 24 Joseph Bathanti, author of “Half of What I Say Is Meaningless” and “The Life of the World to Come”
 Thursday 5pm November 31 Bridgette Lacy author of “Sunday Dinner”

Chansky’s Notebook: Did Tyler Know?

Tyler Hansbrough made the best decision ever.

Can you believe the Tar Heels are about to begin their eighth basketball season since Tyler Hansbrough graduated? UNC’s all-time  leading scorer and rebounder has played seven years in the NBA for the Pacers, Raptors and most recently the Hornets, who cut Psycho T in the off-season and have signed veteran Roy Hibbert, who is five inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than Hansbrough.

Fellow former Heels Kendall Marshall and Marcus Paige are also looking to catch on with NBA teams, and they may have a better chance than Hansbrough, who has proven to be an average pro after a spectacular college career. And, so it seems, he knew it would be that way when he declined entering the draft after each of his four All-American seasons on the way to becoming the most decorated player in the pantheon of Carolina stars.

At 6-9 and 250 pounds, with a motor that always ran on high, Hansbrough was big enough to dominate the college game. He was a relentless rebounder and scorer under the basket, where he also shot 79 percent from the free throw line after 1241 attempts, over 400 more than any other Tar Heel in history. But, with so many records in sight, Hansbrough seemed more content to stay in school every year, and as a senior broke them all, points and rebounds included.

Did Hansbrough have a sixth sense or get some sage advice that he would never come close to being the pro player that he was in college? Rarely hurt at Carolina, the NBA game was far more physical for someone who was no bigger than most small forwards and some big guards. Hansbrough was oft-injured as a rookie and forced to change his game, play more on the perimeter and shoot more face-up jumpers, where he was good but not great.

The college game fit him to a Psycho T and he remains the most honored and among the most beloved Tar Heels in history. After seven years in the NBA, he’s been wise with his money and probably never has to play another basketball game in his life.

Good call, Tyler, and good luck.

Syracuse Writer Calls UNC 2nd Most Overrated Basketball Program

In an effort to endear himself to local sports fans, a Syracuse writer wrote about the perceived “underrated” nature of his local college basketball team.  In this process, in an effort get page-views, he decided to throw what the kids call “shade” at other notable teams that might be considered “overrated.”

Chris Carlson of used a methodology created by Chris Carlson to determine that UNC is the second most overrated basketball program in the country behind only Kentucky.


Kentucky coach John Calipari (Photo by Todd Melet)

In an effort to endear myself to local sports fans and get page-views, I am disputing that claim.

As you know, from the words you screamed when you read the headline of this column, UNC has the second best winning percentage of all time in college basketball.  Kentucky has the best winning percentage of all time.  So, how can UNC and Kentucky, two teams that are statistically more likely to win any game they play than any other program ever, be the two most overrated teams ever?  Is it a Final Four thing?  Can’t be.  Is this a national championship thing?  Despite the two best winning percentages, Kentucky and UNC are only second and tied for third for the most NCAA championships?

No.  The writer is from Syracuse.  He is not from Los Angeles.

Carlson’s methodology is based on the pre-season and final USA Today Coaches Polls.  He is only ranking the past decade.  By this metric, Kentucky and UNC are the two most overrated programs in college basketball.  Basically, it boils down to the fact that Kentucky and UNC typically start seasons with high rankings.

Take the most recent season as an example.  UNC started the year at the No. 1 team in the country.  They finished the season with a loss in the national championship game.  This means the Tar Heels received -1 point, which basically a break-even situation.  Syracuse began the season unranked and did not receive a single vote in the coaches poll.  But, thanks to a run to the Final Four, they finished No. 10 in the poll making the Orange the most underrated team of the 2015-2016 season.

UNC basketball head coach Roy Williams (Photo via Todd Melet).

UNC basketball head coach Roy Williams (Photo via Todd Melet).

But, here is the problem with that.  Syracuse finished the regular season 19-14.  They had a .500 record in the ACC, tied for 9th in the conference, and lost in the first round of the ACC Tournament.  The team wasn’t ranked in the final regular season poll.  They didn’t receive any votes, either.  This is not because they were “underrated.”  It’s because they were 19-14.  If anything, you could argue that their 4 game winning streak in the NCAA Tournament pushed coaches to overrate the Orange.  They beat a 15 seed team in the Round of 32 and an 11 seed team in the Sweet 16.  They did beat a 1 seed in the Elite 8…but it was Virginia.

Syracuse was not overrated last year.  They were a properly rated team that got hot at the right time and caught great breaks in the tournament.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim (Photo by Todd Melet)

This example points out the painfully obvious.  Overall records and strength of schedule have to be considered if you are going to take on this kind of project.  You should also consider a larger sample size, especially if the two best programs, based on overall winning percentage, end up on top of your “most overrated” list.

Of course, at least he actually tried.  I didn’t even attempt to come up with a unique metric to make my point.  I didn’t even open Excel.  Also, as Carlson notes, his results are “an indication that some of the top programs simply face the impossible expectation of making the Final Four every year. That is their reality.”

He’s not wrong there.

UNC Basketball Coaches Remember the Late Pat Summitt

UNC women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell recalled her friendship with the late Pat Summitt on and off the court in a press conference on Tuesday.

Summitt, the renowned women’s basketball coach at the University of Tennessee, died at age 64 on Tuesday due to early onset dementia in the form of Alzheimer’s.

The two women competed against in each other in college – Hatchell at Carson-Newman and Summitt at UT-Martin – but grew to be close friends as they went on to their respective coaching careers.

Hatchell said that Summitt is the reason she has her current job, as Summitt “broke down barriers” and “opened a lot of doors” for coaches in an effort to make the game better.

“Pat knocked down so many doors, so many barriers—the respect that she gained through the whole world of basketball—especially with the men coaches, because of her knowledge,” Hatchell said. “And I don’t know in my lifetime if I have ever known or been around a more assertive, aggressive, dominating female than Pat Summitt.”

Watch the entire press conference below via


According to Hatchell, much of Summitt’s determination stemmed from her childhood, which Hatchell said was spent working on the family farm. Summitt’s dad expected her to work just as hard as her brothers, and that expectation was passed along to Summitt’s players.

“She worked as hard or harder than anyone else, and she expected everybody else to do the same,” Hatchell said, noting that it was one of the many reasons behind Summitt’s unprecedented success of winning the most college basketball games in history. “Pat brought out the best in everyone around her—she demanded the best. Now a lot of people couldn’t take it; they didn’t want that and they couldn’t take it. And they didn’t like it. But one of the greatest things in life you can have is someone make you do what you won’t make yourself do.

“And Pat did that many times—she made a lot of people do what they didn’t want to do and what they didn’t think they could do. But she got the best out of them, no doubt about that.”

Hatchell also noted Summitt’s uncanny spirit, saying that she was “tender-hearted” off the court, but stern and determined when it came to the game.

In the end, Hatchell said, no one did more for women’s basketball than Summitt, and this legacy has made Hatchell more determined in her own career than ever before.

UNC men’s head coach Roy Williams also released a statement regarding Summitt’s passing on Tuesday:

“We lost one of the true giants in coaching, in any sport and regardless of gender, today. If there were a Mount Rushmore of coaching, Pat Summitt would certainly be included. (My wife) Wanda and I sent our daughter, Kimberly, to her basketball camp in Knoxville when I was coaching at Kansas, which is about as high a compliment one coach could give to another, because we wanted Kimberly to be influenced by Coach Summitt. She was a coaching giant, but she was even better in the way she treated people. Our hearts and prayers are with her family and her extended family, in particular all those who coached with her and the young people who played for her.”

Chansky’s Notebook: A Second Ty Lawson?

Seventh Woods sounds like the second coming.

With all the hoopla over Duke’s next big recruiting class for the coming season, a UNC signee who may be better than all of them has gotten lost in the royal blue publicity. His name is Seventh Woods, a 6-1 point guard from Columbia, South Carolina, who Roy Williams compares, and not lightly, to Ty Lawson.


Woods was profiled last weekend in a News & Observer story by South Carolina sportswriter Ron Morris, who did a thorough job after a concerted effort to get an interview with Woods’ protective parents. Apparently, this kid is something special, and it goes beyond the basketball court. He is an outstanding student and citizen dedicated to the memory of his grandparents who perished in a house fire. Woods wrote a prayer in their honor that he calls up on his phone before every game he plays.

Woods is a legend in South Carolina high school hoops, more so than former Tar Heel Raymond Felton from Latta. He was named the best 14-year-old in the country, and his highlight dunking video drew more than 14 million viewers. He once scored from behind the basket while flying out of bounds, another spectacular Youtube video worth watching.

William told Woods that he never recruited a player harder and took his prized glass-top box with the conference and national championship rings his teams won from Kansas to UNC, plus the NBA title ring that Michael Jordan had given Williams. Ol’ Roy is convinced that Woods’ game – explosiveness in pushing the ball down the court – is a perfect fit for UNC’s style of play, in much the same manner of Lawson, the former Tar Heel ACC Player of the Year.

So while all the attention goes 10 miles down the road to Durham, the Tar Heels will add to their veteran team a bullet-speed, deadly shooter and high-flying dunker whose name comes straight from the Bible. And Seventh Woods is coming straight to Chapel Hill.

Knee Replacement Scheduled for Roy Williams

UNC head coach Roy Williams is scheduled to undergo knee replacement surgery later this month.

Williams has gone through several surgeries over the past few years, on his shoulder and a couple of minor knee operations. But it was clear Williams was struggling with knee pain during the basketball season that ended in the national championship game last month.

Williams told reporters about the scheduled surgery at the ACC Spring Meetings in Florida.

After it was initially reported that Williams would have both knees replaced, UNC officials clarified that Williams would only have surgery to replace his right knee later this month and that “no decision has been made yet whether or not to have the left knee replaced, and if so, when.”

Recovery time following knee replacement surgeries varies among different patients, but Williams said he anticipates being back in action in July during a busy recruiting season.

Chansky’s Notebook: Committee of One

Chansky’s Notebook: Meeks Learns The Easy Way

Kennedy Meeks coming back makes both him and is team dangerous.

When Kennedy Meeks announced his was pulling out of the NBA draft, it was the second biggest story on Not because it was such earth-shattering news, but it is the first nugget of truth to the new system the NBA and colleges are using to let players test the waters.

Meeks and Justin Jackson were the two UNC underclassmen who put their names into the NBA draft and did not hire agents, making it possible for them to reverse the process and return to play for Carolina next season. It was an easy choice for Meeks, who is in good academic standing and was NOT invited to participate in the NBA combine of coaches and scouts. Jackson was invited, and he remains in the draft for now.

Meeks not being among the 70 invitees was proof enough that he is not yet good enough to be a first-round NBA draft pick. And it is not like he was ready to leave college, a projected draft pick or not. Meeks now knows that one off-season and his senior year stand between his next chance, and he had better make the best of it. He will work hard to maintain his playing weight and gain the explosiveness around the basket that left him a below the rim player last season.

Should he do that, Meeks and Isaiah Hicks will form one of the best low post tandems in both the ACC and college basketball. And despite the loss of Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige, the Tar Heels will still be a very dangerous team in 2017. If Jackson learns that he, too, needs another year of schooling to be a first-round pick, he will also return to UNC with the incentive to make both himself and his team that much better.

It is still not a perfect system, but testing the NBA waters is now more of a science than someone’s family and friends saying, “Hey, you are ready; you will go in the first round.” Not being invited to the combine told Meeks in a far more objective manner that he isn’t ready. He still could have remained in the draft and, if not picked in the second round, tried out as a free agent. But he did not squander his best option.

So Kennedy Meeks is back in Tar Heel blue. Both the player and the program should be better off for it.

Kennedy Meeks to Return For Senior Season

Kennedy Meeks will return to UNC for his senior season, the school announced on Wednesday.

In his first three seasons, Meeks has averaged 9.4 points and 6.5 rebounds and shot 55.4 percent from the floor in 104 games.  He has started 77 of those 104 games, including 28 games in the 2015-2016 season.

Meeks was one of two Tar Heel underclassmen to declare for the NBA Draft.  Because he did not sign with an agent, he still had the option to return for his senior season of college basketball.

Justin Jackson also declared for the NBA Draft.  Like Meeks, he did not sign with an agent which means he can return to play for the Tar Heels if he chooses.  Unlike Meeks, Jackson received an invitation to next week’s NBA Combine.  He is allowed to participate in that event and does not have to make his final decision until May 25.  The draft is June 23.

Meeks explained his decision in a statement:

“I’m thankful I had the chance to explore my draft options, but I’m excited about the opportunity to rejoin my teammates and work toward having another outstanding season at UNC.  I appreciate the support my coaches and teammates gave me during this process as we gathered information about my professional opportunities at this time. The feedback on what I have to work on so that I can have a great senior year, help my team have a great season and be ready to take that next step is invaluable.”

“Kennedy did the right thing in taking the time to see where he stood with the NBA Draft at this point in his career, an opportunity we encourage all of our players to take,” says Carolina head coach Roy Williams in a release. “I think Kennedy’s made the right decision in returning to school to finish his degree and put himself in better position toward playing professional basketball, which is his dream. If he works hard this summer, he can have a big-time senior season and also help our team reach its goals.”

Kennedy Meeks needs only 19 points in his senior campaign to become the 73rd 1,000-point scorer in Carolina history.

Chansky’s Notebook: Ellington Chose Action Over Grief

Carolina’s Wayne Ellington has turned sorrow into meaningful action.

Ellington, the Most Outstanding Player at the 2009 Final Four in Detroit, has had to live with more than the normal ups and downs of a pro athlete. In 2014, his father was shot to death while sitting in his car on the mean streets of Philadelphia.

Ellington wrote a letter titled ‘Pops’ in The Players’ Tribune

Ellington channeled his grief into several anti-gun violence programs, such as being the featured speaker in Philly’s Peace Day “March for Peace” and joining other pros to run the fourth annual Peace League Tournament, which also aims to curb gang violence in Chicago.

He then launched the non-profit “Power of W.E.,” which will run the Philadelphia Peace Games in August, bringing members from rival gangs together in one of the basketball games that will be played on a court Ellington raised money to build with permanent messages about gun control and gangs.

In February of 2016, while Ellington’s Brooklyn Nets team was in the middle of a dismal, 21-61 season, the man who shot and killed Wayne Ellington, Sr., was sentenced from 30-60 years in prison after pleading guilty to third-degree murder. Ellington said it brought some kind of closure to his family but, obviously, will never bring his dad back.

Then last month, Ellington received the prestigious J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award from the Pro Basketball Writers of America. Kennedy was the second commissioner of the NBA, and the honor goes to an NBA player who shows outstanding leadership in the community. Ellington had to beat out current NBA stars LeBron James, Chris Paul, John Wall and George Hill for the award.

Ellington also sponsored the New York City grassroots program, the Rens, with the first youth league teams to wear orange patches on their uniforms as a statement against gun violence. Ellington bought and donated more than 2,000 Nets tickets for youth groups all over the city.

Hats off to Carolina’s Wayne Ellington, who turned his father’s senseless killing into something very special.

Johnson and Paige Honored at End-of-Year Ceremony

UNC seniors Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige were both honored on Tuesday evening during the men’s basketball team end-of-year awards ceremony.

Johnson won the Dean Smith Most Valuable Player award after the forward put together one of the best seasons in UNC history. Meanwhile, guard Marcus Paige won the Defensive Player of the Year award; this marked the first time that one player won that award four times over the course of their career.

UNC was gathering to celebrate a season that saw the Tar Heels enter the year as the preseason No. 1 team in the country and eventually make a run to the national title game. Carolina had some unexpected challenges, including Paige missing the first portion of the season with a broken right hand and a shooting slump that rendered the senior lefty’s jump shot nearly unrecognizable.

Even through the shooting woes, it was clear Paige was still the leader of the team and his shooting as the season drew to a close was what both Paige and UNC fans had come to expect of him. That culminated in Paige hitting an acrobatic-double-pump three pointer to tie the national championship game against Villanova with less five seconds left in regulation. We don’t have to remind you what happened next.

Paige, from Marion, Iowa, was also the first player in UNC history to be named a permanent team captain in three seasons at Carolina. Paige also won the Tyler Zeller Award given to the team’s top scholar-athlete and the Marvin Williams Carolina Way Award for “playing hard, unselfishly and putting the team first,” on Tuesday.

Johnson, from Orangeburg, South Carolina, made a huge jump between his junior and senior seasons, becoming one of the most dominant big men in college basketball and thrusting himself into the discussion of being a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Johnson led UNC with 17 points and 10.4 rebounds per game and led the entire Atlantic Coast Conference by shooting 61.4 percent from the field. Johnson also amassed 23 double-doubles on the season on his way to becoming a consensus first-team All-American.

Johnson, Paige and Joel James are leaving the program after exhausting their eligibility. Two other members of the team that went to the national title game – Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks – have entered the NBA Draft but have not hired an agent, leaving open the possibility of a return to Carolina.