Yesterday was December Commencement at UNC and it included a two notable Tar Heel athletes who graduated after having put their academic work on hold for professional athletic careers.
The biggest name and perhaps the most impressive was former Tar Heel basketball player Marvin Williams. Williams was a freshman forward on the 2005 NCAA title team. After the Tar Heels won the title, Williams declared for the NBA Draft and became the second overall pick. His career has not panned out quite to that level though Williams is presently a key contributor for the Charlotte Hornets.
In the nine plus years since being drafted, Williams has returned to Chapel Hill every summer to take classes in pursuit of his degree. On Sunday Williams' hard work paid off in the form of him receiving his UNC degree(via Marcus Ginyard's Instagram.)
What a blessing to share this week's #SetTheBarSunday with you all. My brother Marvin Williams, former 2nd overall pick in the #NBA draft, left school after his freshman year but spent the last 10 years going back to school every summer to complete his degree! What an amazing example of hard work and dedication! It's clear that he understands the importance of education!! Thanks Marvin for setting the bar high, showing us a glimpse of what can be accomplished when you are committed to excellence! #TarHeelNation #GoHeels #GreatDayToBeATarHeel #STUDENTathletes #RoleModel #UNC (S/O @drstroman)
Also graduating on Sunday was former Tar Heel pitcher Kent Emanuel who left after his junior season and was drafted by the Houston Astros. Emanuel tweeted out thanks to the Astros organization for permitting him time to finish his degree.
Over the past several months the media has gone to great lengths to promote players like Rashad McCants and Michael McAdoo who made a conscious choice not to take their academic careers seriously. They have instead chosen to blame everyone else and now claim to be entitled to some sort of compensation.
Marvin Williams was a one and done player who took nine years of summer school courses to complete his degree. Kent Emanuel needed just one more year of classes and could have easily walked away but chose to take time in the offseason to earn his degree.
Here are two Tar Heel athletes who did it right not because they needed to stay eligible but because they put value on getting their degree. Good luck finding anyone talking about them today.