UNC Commit Named McDonald’s All-American

UNC basketball commit Tony Bradley has been named to the McDonald’s All-American Team.

Bradley, a 6’ 11” center from Bartow, Florida, was the first blue-chip commitment after a rough recruiting stretch, by Carolina standards, amid the final stages of the NCAA investigations into the UNC scandal following the Wainstein Report.

Bradley is the first Tar Heel commit to make the McDonald’s All-America roster since Joel Berry, Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson, all now sophomores at Carolina.

Recruiting has since picked up for Carolina with commitments from guards Seventh Woods and Brandon Robinson joining Bradley in the 2016 recruiting class. Jalek Felton, former Tar Heel Raymond Felton’s nephew, has commited to play for the Heels in the 2017 class. And 2018 guard Rechon “Leaky” Black, from Concord, announced his plans on Friday to suit up in Carolina blue once he graduates high school.


Bradley will compete on the East roster along with UNC target Udoka Azubuike. Azubuike is the only player on the East team that has not chosen where he will be attending college.

Three players on the McDonald’s West squad are yet to make a decision on where they will play in college.

Duke commits Jayson Tatum (East) and Frank Jackson (West) were also named McDonald’s All-Americans.

Overall, six of the prospects in the McDonald’s game are already committed to playing the Atlantic Coast Conference. Bradley, Tatum and Jackson will be joined by Louisville commit V.J. King, Virginia-bound Kyle Guy and Miami-native Dewan Huell who will stay close to home and suit up for the Hurricanes.

The game will be played at the United Center in Chicago on March 30.


Art’s Angle: Happy Birthday, Dean Dome

N.C. State’s visit marks the 30th birthday of the Dean Smith Center, which opened on the third Saturday in January, 1986, against Duke in what felt like an NCAA Tournament game.

Dean Dome

Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski after 1986 Game. (Photo via UNC Athletics)

Both teams were undefeated – UNC 17-0 and ranked No. 1, Duke 16-0 and No. 3 – and playing on the court for the first time; it was nationally televised and each of the then 21,444 light blue seats was filled for tip-off. The Blue Devils’ Mark Alarie scored the first basket in what had already been dubbed the “Dean Dome,” and Warren Martin made the first hoop for the home team.

Behind seniors Brad Daugherty and Steve Hale, who combined for 51 points, Carolina opened up a double-digit lead in the second half and withstood a Duke rally to win 95-92 in one of the most memorable afternoons in UNC history.

The night before, the state-of-the-arc octagonal with the Teflon roof had been officially named the Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center at a black tie gala on the floor of the building that was erected with $36 million of private money, a first for an on-campus basketball arena in the country.

The Rams Club spearheaded the fund-raising drive behind the late Ernie Williamson, Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles and Dean Smith and was fittingly proud of a feat that many thought could not be accomplished. The Rams Club published a picture book titled “Commitment To Excellence” chronicling the construction, a hard-cover commemorative copy given to each major donor with his or her name etched on the cover. All donors are listed on engraved plaques inside Gate A.

UNC was the first in the old eight-school ACC to replace its bandbox gym with such a palace when the flagship state university was first in just about everything. Smith’s Tar Heels had won the 1982 national championship and went on to post the best record in college basketball over the entire decade.

Since then, flaws have gradually come to light, particularly the too-narrow, one-level concourse. And the supply-and-demand for tickets has reversed with the TV-dictated starting times of almost every Carolina home game. In 1992, after unranked Florida State had upset the No. 5 Tar Heels, Seminoles guard Sam Cassell uttered the infamous phrase that UNC fans were “sort of a cheese and wine crowd.” That taste stuck like a bad piece of Munster.

Over the two decades since, efforts have been made to bring the building to life for games besides Duke and State or any other opponent that comes in with a high national ranking. Most of the padded seats have been replaced, the video screens, sound system and lighting upgraded so it has the feel of a big-time arena at tip-off, boosted by colorful PA announcer Tony Gillam. Everybody has seen the “I’m a Tar Heel” and “THIS is Carolina Basketball” features that play each game.

Student risers were added behind the home basket in 2000 to get a few hundred kids closer to the action, and they “Jump Around” to the House of Pain song awaiting the tip in what has become the Smith Center’s singular tradition. All other students are scattered around the building in pods from the lower arena to the upper deck nose-bleed seats. A true home-court advantage exists only when everyone, from the fat cats around the court to the fans on high, stand and scream their lungs out. Duke is the one opponent that has no idea what the hell the “cheese and wine crowd” is.

Since his arrival in 2011, Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham has spent money further upgrading the Dean Dome, some of it to make more money. He had a digital “ribbon board” installed along the fascia of the upper deck with fancy graphics and non-stop commercial endorsements that may have the namesake of the building wincing from above. Smith was always against, and banned, signage.

All of this is supposed to enhance the game-day experience for fans, make them want to leave their couches and HD flat screens, pay the on-average $50 ticket prices, battle the traffic and parking problems and be proud to go to work or church the next day saying, “We were there.” Most of it works, some of it doesn’t.

Smith was steadfast with his stance on commercialization. And he would hate the way the digital board flickers like Times Square. Amidst all the glitter, the clock and score behind each basket are hard to pick up at a quick glance while the action is going on. Additional scoring panels should be added and ideally moved back to the four fascia “corners” of the octagonal, where they used to be before the ribbon was installed, set off and easily viewable from anywhere in the arena.

That’s a perfect combination of the old and new that would add to what is otherwise a contemporary and improved fan experience at the 30-year-old Smith Center. Happy Birthday to the Dome named for the Dean.


Antawn Jamison in North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Antawn Jamison, a former All-American for the North Carolina Tar Heels, will be inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.  Other members of the Hall’s Class of 2016 include the Carolina Hurricanes’ Rod Brind’Amour, Gastonia’s Eric “Sleepy” Floyd, and the late Ray Price.

Before coming to Chapel Hill, Antawn Jamison starred at Charlotte’s Providence High School.  He was a McDonald’s All-American in 1995 and was North Carolina’s Mr. Basketball.

As a Tar Heel, Jamison went to two Final Fours.  He was named the National Player of the Year in 1998 and was a consensus first-team All-American.  He earned second-team All-American honors in 1997.  Antawn earned All-ACC first-team honors each of his three season in college.  Jamison played on the last team coached by Dean Smith and the first coached by Bill Guthridge.

In the NBA, Jamison made two All-Star teams in his 16-season career.  He retired in 2014.

The nine-member Class of 2016 includes Jamison, Rod Brind’Amour, Eric “Sleepy” Floyd, David Fox, James “Rabbit” Fulghum, Haywood Jeffires, Freddy Johnson, Ray Price and Susan Yow.

The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, which inducted its first class in 1963, celebrates excellence and extraordinary achievement in athletics. The Hall of Fame also commemorates and memorializes exceptional accomplishments in sports for the inspiration and enjoyment of all North Carolinians, especially the youth, through popular exhibits and educational displays.



UNC Center Kennedy Meeks May Return Against Syracuse

The UNC men’s basketball game against Syracuse could mark two major returns.

Carolina will enter a hostile environment on Saturday when the Tar Heels travel to Syracuse to take on the Orange. The game will mark the return of Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim following a suspension.

But Carolina may be welcoming back Kennedy Meeks as well. UNC head coach Roy Williams said that Meeks would practice fully on Friday and, if the junior was able to make it through practice without any setbacks, he would play Saturday.

“If a guy’s poor play takes him out of the lineup, then he doesn’t deserve anything,” Williams said. “But if an injury takes him out of the lineup, I think you’ve got to give him a fair chance to get his spot back.”

How much Meeks may play remains to be seen.

“If it’s the Kennedy that played against Louisville in Mohegan Sun or against Michigan State at Michigan State, then he’s going to play a lot,” Williams said. “If it’s the Kennedy that plays like Brice (Johnson) did against Clemson, then he ain’t going to play very much.”

Williams said that he does not anticipate the potential return of Meeks do diminish the amount that the Tar Heel roll out a smaller lineup to create matchup problems. But he says the wing players will have to rebound better to play that lineup more.

“I like it a lot better in certain ways,” Williams said of the smaller lineup, “but you’ve still got to rebound that basketball.

“It’s alright for people to disagree, but I think rebounding is the most important part of the game.”

Williams added that he will be happy to get a full healthy lineup back on the floor.

“People said, ‘boy that’ll help those other guys with Marcus being out,’ and I said, ‘I’d rather have Marcus,” Williams remembered. “And they said, ‘well, it’ll help out those other guys when Kennedy is out,’ and I said, ‘well, I’d rather have Kennedy.’

“I think you’d rather have your whole team. So you can play, and you go through good times and bad times, the adversity, the good play and see what different changes you have to make.”

The full UNC team could play together for the first time since Meeks left the lineup in mid-December.

Tipoff for Carolina and Syracuse is set for eight o’clock Saturday night. WCHL’s coverage will begin at 6:30.


Stroman On Sports: A Big Week For Carolina

UNC football is preparing to wrap up arguably its best season ever, UNC basketball is back in the top 10 with Brice Johnson now leading the way, and the Carolina Panthers are still undefeated after beating the New York Giants (though all the postgame talk was about Odell Beckham’s on-field behavior).

Deb Stroman, sports analyst and Kenan-Flagler Business School professor, broke it all down this week with Aaron Keck on WCHL.


UNC Basketball Defeats UCLA

The UNC basketball team defeated the UCLA Bruins on Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn.  Brice Johnson set a new career-high in points for the second straight game on Saturday, scoring 27 to lead the No. 11 UNC basketball team past the No. 22 UCLA Bruins 89-76 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  See photos the UNC basketball win from Smith Cameron Photography.


Stroman On Sports: 16-0?

The Carolina Panthers are 13-0 following another big win this weekend. They’ve clinched a division title and a first-round bye in the NFL playoffs. Is it time to sit Cam Newton and make sure he’s rested, ready and healthy for the playoffs? Or do the Panthers owe it to the fans (and themselves) to play to win every week, especially with a historic 16-0 season still on the line?

Deb Stroman is a professor at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and an expert on the business of sport. She discussed the Panthers – and other topics – on WCHL Monday with Aaron Keck.


UNC Basketball Drops to No. 11

The UNC basketball team fell to No. 11 in the both polls on Monday.  The Tar Heels lost their only game of the week on Saturday afternoon.  The Texas Longhorns defeated Carolina 84-82.  Carolina’s record now sits at 7-2.

In the first few weeks of the 2015-2016 season, the UNC basketball team has bounced around in the polls.  The team began the season ranked No. 1.  An early upset loss to Northern Iowa knocked the Tar Heels from that perch.  But, going into Saturday’s game against Texas, Carolina was ranked No. 3 in both the AP and Coaches Polls.

Michigan State currently sits at the No. 1 spot in both polls.

Duke is ranked No. 7 in the AP Poll and No. 6 in the Coaches Poll.  Virginia is No. 8 in the AP and No. 9 according to the coaches.  Once again, two other ACC teams remain in the Top 25.  In the AP Poll, Miami is No. 15 and Louisville is No. 19.  But, in the Coaches Poll, Louisville is No. 16 and Miami is No. 19.

The team returns to the court on Wednesday night.  Carolina will play Tulane in Chapel Hill at 7:00.  WCHL’s coverage of the game begins at 5:30 with Countdown to Tip-off with Aaron Keck.



UNC Basketball Moves up to No. 3

The UNC basketball team moved up to No. 3 in both the AP and Coaches polls, Monday afternoon.

The Tar Heels defeated the then No. 2 Maryland Terrapins and Davidson Wildcats last week.  Those victories, along with the return of senior guard Marcus Paige, justify the big jump from No. 9.

Paige’s first game of the season was against Maryland in the Dean Smith Center.  His 20 points led the Tar Heels to a 89-91 victory.  It was the first loss of the season for the Terrapins, who fell to No. 6 in the AP Poll and No. 9 in the Coaches Poll.

Photos from UNC vs. Maryland

On Sunday night, the UNC basketball team handed another team their first loss of the season.  The Tar Heels smoked the Davidson Wildcats, 98-65.  Five players reached double figures in scoring for the Tar Heels in the game—including all three guards, Paige, Joel Berry, and Nate Britt.

Photos from UNC vs. Davidson

Carolina returns to action on Saturday, December 12.  The 7-1 Tar Heels will play the Texas Longhorns at 5:15 PM.  Listen to the game on 97.9 FM or 1360 AM WCHL.

Duke, currently at 8-1, is No. 8 in the AP Poll and No. 5 in the Coaches Poll.  Another ACC rival, Virginia, sits at No. 10 in both polls.  Two other ACC teams, Miami and Louisville, also have spots in the top 25.  Miami is 17th in the AP and 20th in the Coaches Poll.  Louisville is 22nd and 19th.


Paige, Jackson On Naismith Trophy Watch List

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 McClellan