I know. You are probably thinking fantasy football since it is that time of year again. No, in this case we are talking about drafting teams made up of the best Tar Heel basketball players from 1982-present (current active players excluded.) Doc, C.Michael and I made the selections in that order which was determined by my seven year old son drawing names out of a hat. There were a total of 24 picks which allowed each "GM" to select a starting lineup and three reserves. Everyone was required to select a point guard, two wing players and two interior players before selecting reserve players. Without further ado, here are the picks.
1. Ty Lawson, PG, 2007-2009
Doc: Unquestionably the top point guard of the post-'81 era, his resume speaks for itself: two Final Fours, a national title, ACC player of the year and Bob Cousy Award winner.
2. Michael Jordan, SF, 1982-1984
C.Michael: Well, that certainly throws me for a loop. Here I was thinking I was going to pull a fast one by taking Lawson at #2!
3. Tyler Hansbrough, PF, 2006-2009
THF: And here I thought Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton would come off the board 1-2. There is no way I can pass on Tyler Hansbrough though. All time leading scorer in ACC and UNC history. NPOY and jersey in the rafters one of four players in this draft for which that is the case.
4. Antawn Jamison, PF, 1996-1998
Doc: Like THF says, NPOY, consensus A-A and jersey in the rafters. While he is always considered among the elite at UNC, his accomplishments often seem overshadowed because he played in the transition time between Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge.
5. James Worthy, PF, 1980-1982
C.Michael: Looks like I'm getting the '82-band back together. The fourth and final member of the this draft to have his number retired, and one of only two to be drafted #1 overall in the NBA. Depending on how you look at it, Worthy had either the fortune or misfortune of spending nearly his entire career playing with, and being somewhat overshadowed by, transcendent teammates, but make no mistake about... Worthy was as good as it gets.
6. Raymond Felton, PG, 2003-2005
THF: Second all time(that is until Kendall Marshall finishes his career) in assists per game with 6.9. Had 698 assists in three years which is fourth all time. Felton made 174 threes for his career and was a key cog in the 2005 NCAA title team. Felton won the Bob Cousy Award in 2005.
7. Jerry Stackhouse, SF, 1994-1995
Doc: Could do it from inside, from outside. Amazing to believe his career at UNC was only two years because it seems like more.
CM: Stackhouse, like Sean May, was also Sports Illustrated's Player of the Year. Interesting that selection as the NPOY by the Sporting News warrants a jersey retirement, but selection by SI does not.
8. Wayne Ellington, SG, 2007-2009
C.Michael: One of the prettiest shots any Tar Heel ever had, but more than that, a terrific all-round player; I actually had him #2 on my list of UNC wings. A Final Four MOP and joins Jordan, Hansbrough, Jamison, and Rashad McCants as the only Tar Heels to finish their junior season on pace to pass Phil Ford's scoring mark. Oh, and between Jordan and Ellington, if it comes down to a last shot, I win...
9. Donald Williams, SG, 1992-1995
THF: I'll see your Final Four MOP and raise you one. Williams was 10-14 in the 1993 Final Four and scored 25 points in each game leading the Heels to the title. Like Ellington he played in two Final Fours winning once. He ended his career at UNC third in made threes eight behind Wayne Ellington.
10. Sam Perkins, C, 1981-1984
Doc: Oh man, THF - you hurt me. I thought I was going to steal Donald Williams at #10.
OK, with the 10th pick, I choose Sam Perkins.
Big Smooth was an All-American and Olympic gold medalist, played in two Final Fours, was an NCAA champion, and was named one of ACC's top-50 players. He also scored over 2,100 points and had over 1,100 rebounds.
11. George Lynch, PF, 1990-1993
C.Michael: It would be tempting to go with one of the number of 6'10" or taller players who remain on the board, but with the 11th pick I will stay with the theme of "small and athletic" and go with one of my favorite Tar Heels of all-time: George Lynch.
Lynch was the heart and soul of the 1993 title team and his graduation left a void that the immensely talented 1994 team was never able to fill. But more than that, Lynch had a remarkable career for UNC, tallying over 1700 points to go along with 1097 rebounds (3rd all time) and 241 steals (the record until he was surpassed by Derrick Phelps the following year).
12. Vince Carter, SF, 1996-1998
THF: The statistical case for Carter did not seem that strong until you realize he scored more points in his three years than James Worthy did. Carter was All-ACC his junior year with 15.6 ppg and 5.1 rpg while shooting 41% from three. There is also something to be said for putting that kind of athleticism on the court. My team vs C.Michael's? Carter vs Jordan at the SF spot? Holy. Crap. Plus I am really hoping if Carter is on my team he gives me $2.5 million one day.
13. Rashad McCants, SG, 2003-2005
Doc: I clearly need a wing guard and the best available on the board is the mercurial Rashad McCants, so I will select him at #13. McCants was all-ACC as a sophomore and was a key member of the 2005 national championship team. Sadly for him, he will forever be known for his surly personality than for his ability and contributions to the program.
THF: Having fun managing McCants and Stackhouse on the same team.
14. Ed Cota, PG, 1997-2000
C.Michael: Time to round out my starting five, so with the 14th pick I will select Ed Cota. Who better to lead a team full of thoroughbreds and scorers, than the school's all-time leading assist man and the starting PG for 3 Final Four teams? Cota is one of only 3 players in NCAA history to amass more than 1000 assists, and he is the only player in NCAA history to have more than 1000 points, 1000 assists, and 500 rebounds. In my mind, Cota's number 5 is the single biggest omission from the rafters in the Dean E. Smith Center.
15. Brad Daugherty, C, 1983-1986
THF: Rounding out the top 15 with Brad Daughtery. 9th all time in points with 1912 and 7th with 1003 rebounds. Only seven UNC players have over 1000 rebounds. Five are eligible for this draft with four of them off the board.
Doc: Daugherty was also on the ACC's top-50 team in 2003. How deep is UNC basketball that an ACC top-50 guy goes 15th?
16. Kenny Smith, PG, 1984-1987
Doc: With the 16th pick and first of the bench players, I select Kenny Smith. Consensus 1st-team all-American as a senior, The Jet was a four-year starter at point guard and his injury as a freshman derailed one of the best UNC teams of all time.
17. Sean May, C, 2003-2005
C.Michael: Looking to add a big body to my bench, with the 17th pick I will take Sean May. May is the only player in this draft to average a double-double (15.8/10.0) for his career, which was punctuated by arguably one of the finest half-season stretches in Carolina history to close out his junior season, culminating with a National Title and recognition from Sports Illustrated as the National Player of the Year. From the middle of February on, he was, quite simply, the best player in college basketball; dominance that was summarized perfectly by his brilliant 26 point, 24 rebound performance against Duke.
THF: Still tickles me that May's 26-24 performance came against Shelden Williams who everyone had anointed the best defender in the ACC.
18. Derrick Phelps, PG, 1991-1994
THF: With the 18th pick I am taking Derrick Phelps. All time steals leader at UNC known primarily as a defensive stopper but ranked fifth all time in assists.
19. J.R. Reid, PF, 1987-1989
Doc: Many Tar Heel fans under the age of 40 may not remember just how dominant of a player Reid was in the late 80s. He was a two-time all-American and MVP of the 1989 ACC tournament.
20. Joseph Forte, SG, 2000-2001
C.Michael: This one may be a bit controversial, but at #20 the pick is Joseph Forte. Forte's decision to leave after just two years is probably the most difficult early entry for Carolina fans to understand/accept, as Forte was not selected within the top-half of the draft and his decision left a gaping hole in Carolina's roster that played at least a part in causing the worst season season in Carolina Basketball history. That being said, the two season's that Forte did wear the Carolina Blue bordered on spectacular. Forte was the ACC ROY and 2001 ACC POY, and still remains the school's record holder for most points scored as both a freshman (600) and through the sophomore season (1290). He also led the team in steals both years in Chapel Hill.
21. Eric Montross, C, 1991-1994
THF: Simply a solid player for four years under Dean Smith. 20th all time in scoring and 8th in rebounding. Montross was named All-American in 1993 and 1994. Montross is now the analyst on the Tar Heel Sports Network, currently serving on the AD search committee and simply a great Tar Heel.
22. Rick Fox, SF/PF, 1988-1991
Doc: Although there is one more 1st team all-American on the board, I think I will go with a versatile team player/glue guy and will select at #22 my UNC classmate Rick Fox. At 6-7, Fox could play on the wing or inside and was an all-ACC selection in the Tar Heels' run to the Final Four in 1991. He also made one of UNC's most-famous NCAA tournament shots, the game-winner over #1 Oklahoma in 1990.
23. Rasheed Wallace, PF/C, 1994-1995
C.Michael: For my last pick, as much as I could use a back-up point guard (Shammond Williams), it is impossible to pass on Rasheed Wallace. It is hard to believe that a player good enough to be on the ACC Tournament team as a freshman, and a 1st - team All American as a sophomore is still around for the 23rd pick, but such are the spoils that have been Carolina basketball. Wallace was a freakish athlete who helped usher in a new era of college basketball bigmen who were just as comfortable away from the basket as they were under it. 'Sheed left UNC with an ACC record 63.5% career FG%, and for his career, he averaged 13.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game despite averaging only 25 minutes per game.
24. Danny Freaking Green, SF, 2006-2009
THF: You probably could argue in favor of others but Green was a spark off the bench in 2008 and in 2009 was key to UNC's title run. He had that intangible swagger you need on a team. Not to mention I need someone to dance right before tip-off. Oh and this is obligatory:
|PG||Ty Lawson||Ed Cota||Raymond Felton|
|SG||Rashad McCants||Wayne Ellington||Donald Williams|
|SF||Jerry Stackhouse||Michael Jordan||Vince Carter|
|PF||Antawn Jamison||James Worthy||Tyler Hansbrough|
|C||Sam Perkins||George Lynch||Brad Daughtery|
|Bench||Kenny Smith||Sean May||Derrick Phelps|
|J.R. Reid||Joseph Forte||Eric Montross|
|Rick Fox||Rasheed Wallace||Danny Green|
Two rows in this table that really jump out are the SF and PF positions. Stackhouse, Jordan and Carter in one row. Jamison, Worthy and Hansbrough in the other. UNC has such a deep and almost embarrassing riches in its historical player roster. Interesting patterns emerge in our picks. Six of my eight players were on national title teams and seven of the eight played in the Final Four. Is it possible team accomplishment clouds my evaluation of individuals? C.Michael had five of eight who won rings and seven of eight who played in the Final Four. Doc only had three national champions among his picks and six of eight players who were in a Final Four. On the other hand, seven of the eight players Doc selected were All-Americans, while C. Michael chose five and THF had four.
So now we let you our good readers decide which of us made the best picks. Among the three teams selected which one is the best.