Not that Carolina basketball fans needed anything to further raise the expectations on Harrison Barnes and Reggie Bullock, but the dynamic duo lived up to the hype on the first night of the N.C. Pro-Am summer league over at NC Central University in Durham.
Barnes and Bullock are joined on Team Stackhouse (yes, that Stackhouse, who is actually coaching the team) along with teammates John Henson and Justin Watts, and future Tar Heel P.J. Hairston. Barnes hit two 3s early as well as a nice tomahawk, Bullock and Hairston wowed the crowd with a couple of monster dunks, and Henson blocked everything in sight as Team Stackhouse overmatched D1 Sports 81-66.
There are a number of other UNC connections in the league. Tyler Zeller, Will Graves, and Marcus Ginyard are playing for the Coaches in Christ squad, while Dexter Strickland and Justin Knox are playing for Team Jamison. The alumni are well-represented also, with Raymond Felton, Sean May, David Noel, and Marvin Williams all playing for Team 212 (shouldn't it be Team 2005?) and Ed Davis and Danny Green on the Body of Christ team.
If you have followed summer pro-am ball for a while, you may know this league is the evolution of what used to be the old Chavis League that played for many years at St. Augustine's College in Raleigh. The Chavis League was known for some amazing turnouts by college and pro stars and the N.C. Pro-Am seems to be following in those footsteps well.
While you don't want to read too much into this type of summer league, which can sometimes be little more than glorified AAU all-star play, you have to like how the team, particularly Henson, Barnes, and Bullock, are coming together. I think it's clear who the alpha dogs will be on next year's team. Plus, the rookies are getting acclimated to what basketball interest and scrutiny are at this level.
If you have a chance this summer, head out to historic McClendon-McDougald gym at NCCU to catch past, present, and future Heels in action. The league schedule can be found here. A blog that recaps the game action can be found here.