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The Carolina Connection: Tar Heels on the Charlotte Hornets

Marcus Paige and Isaiah Hicks are the latest in a series of UNC alums who have been inked by the Greatest Tar Heel of Them All.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, Marcus Paige and Isaiah Hicks signed contracts with the Charlotte Hornets. Paige received a two-way contract, and Hicks got a training camp contract.

Paige and Hicks are the 8th and 9th Carolina players to play under the ownership of Michael Jordan. Y'know, that shooting guard who played for the Wizards for a little while? Since Jordan took the reins in Charlotte, Tar Heel alums have benefitted from the Carolina connection, some from the draft, others from free agency. Here is a list of MJ's Tar Heel Hornets:

Raymond Felton

Jordan arrived in Charlotte to find two Tar Heels who had just completed their rookie season waiting for him. Felton was one of them. Coming off the 2005 National Championship season, Felton was the fifth overall pick of the Bobcats. Felton had a solid five years in Charlotte, retaining the starting point guard position and reaching a peak of 14.4 ppg and 7.4 apg in the 2008 season. He had the most successful tenure of any Tar Heel for MJ.

In the summer of 2010, Felton left Charlotte as a free agent and signed with the New York Knicks.

Sean May

The other Tar Heel to greet Jordan in Charlotte was Sean May, the MVP of the 2005 Final Four. May's brilliant college career unfortunately was not replicated in Charlotte, where injury derailed his rookie and sophomore seasons. His second year in particular looked to be off to a promising start as he averaged nearly 12 points and seven rebounds a game in 24 minute of play. But his knees repeatedly betrayed him and eventual knee surgery resulted in him being cut from the team in 2009.

May would later sign with the Sacramento Kings and spend the remainder of his career abroad.

Jeff McInnis

The starting point guard on the 1995 Final Four squad had spent time overseas and on six different NBA rosters. The Bobcats became his 7th in the 2007-08 season. McInnis' time as a Bobcat began ignominiously: In his first game, he was substituted in but was discovered to not be on the official team roster, due to an error by an assistant. He was ejected after eight seconds of play and the Bobcats were given a technical foul. McInnis played a total of 38 games before being waived that February.

Brendan Haywood

The former All-American and NBA Champion center was claimed off waivers by a Hornets squad that had finished 7-59 the previous season. Haywood averaged 3.5 ppg and 4.8 rpg in the 2012-13 season. His 2013-14 campaign was derailed by a stress fracture in his foot and he would eventually be traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, making a return trip to the NBA Finals in his final season as a player.

P.J. Hairston

The Tar Heel shooting guard was one of the more unusual draftees in NBA history. Suspended from UNC in 2013, Hairston joined the D-League and was picked up by the Texas Legends for the latter half of the 2013-14 season. His dominant play resulted in him being drafted 26th overall by the Miami Heat (on behalf of the Hornets), making him the first player to be drafted out of the D-League.

Hairston played a total of 93 games for the Hornets and averaged 5.8 ppg and 2.3 rpg, before being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2016.

Tyler Hansbrough

The most decorated player in UNC history found his way back to the state of North Carolina in 2015, when he signed a one-year deal with the Hornets. Hansbrough had enjoyed regular rotation minutes in Toronto and Indiana, but struggled to find playing time on a roster with established big man Al Jefferson and lottery pick Cody Zeller. Hansbrough only played in a total of 44 games for Charlotte and would not re-sign with the team in the offseason.

Marvin Williams

The former NCAA Champion and #2 overall pick returned to the Tar Heel state in 2014, following stints in Atlanta and Utah. Williams was brought in as a steady veteran hand for a very young Hornet team. The past three seasons have seen his minutes increase, as he has carved out a permanent place in the starting lineup and has experienced something of a career resurgence as a stretch 4.

In the 2015-16 season, he posted a career-high average of 40.2% from 3-point range and last season saw career highs in rebounding. More than anything however, Williams is known as a vocal team leader, particularly on the defensive end.

Now it's Marcus Paige and Isaiah Hicks' turn to represent Carolina as Hornets. As noted in last week's article, both players face an uphill battle making the roster, with Paige's contract likely meaning he'll spend most of his time in the G-League, and Hicks only signing through training camp.

However, you can bet, with a vocal Tar Heel veteran in the locker room, and a Tar Heel legend in the owner's box, these two will have ample opportunity to prove themselves. Others have had the chance before.