One of the most enjoyable things about players that are in the NBA is that they have the ability to speak their minds about what took place prior to making it into the league. An interesting topic that has come up a few times in the past is where players preferred to attend college. As far as UNC fans are concerned, the most notable of said discussions revolved around LeBron James, as he has stated in the past that he wanted to be a Tar Heel.
As it turns out, another superstar in the league claims that he would’ve preferred to suit up in Carolina blue. Two-time NBA champion and 2014 NBA MVP Kevin Durant sat down with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles for an interview on the show Knuckleheads, which is part of The Player’s Tribune, to discuss his college and professional basketball career. During the interview, Durant revealed where he originally wanted to go to play college basketball:
Kevin Durant “I wanted to go to Carolina” pic.twitter.com/fdOpfQj2Y4— UNC Basketball Updates (@HeelsUpdates) April 4, 2019
Durant revealed that he wanted to originally play for the University of North Carolina before ultimately deciding to play for the Texas Longhorns. Former Tar Heel and 2009 national champion Ty Lawson was his best friend and roommate during high school, as they both played with each other for three years at Oak Hill Academy. Durant stated that he wanted to team up with Lawson, but the roster at the time was loaded thanks to players like Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Green. With potential playing time being a big concern, his parents ultimately told him no, and former Texas head coach Rick Barnes managed to lock him down.
Perhaps the most interesting comment that Durant made during the interview, is his double-down statement that if he went to Carolina he would’ve been “just another name in 20 jerseys” in the rafters. His choice to attend Texas made him a legend for their program, with the school even deciding to name their basketball center after him. The way things worked out for him with Texas as well as with his NBA career falls in line with a discussion that is constantly being had about high school recruiting: do some players prefer to be “the guy” at a non-Blue Blood school?
Seeing the success that players like Durant, Steph Curry, and James Harden had, and more recently Murray State’s Ja Morant and how he experienced a meteoric rise up the NBA Draft boards, there is a lot of merit to attending a school where you can essentially become a legend for that program. The counter argument, however, will always be that competitors love to compete and win, and schools like UNC, Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas will always be lucrative options for players that want to team up with equally-talented players in order to achieve the ultimate goal: making it to the Final Four and winning a national championship.
Unfortunately for UNC, Kevin Durant’s story led him to follow the path to the NBA that led him through the state of Texas. It’s a bit jarring to think about what he would’ve been able to do if he teamed up with Ty Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough, and Danny Green, and one would imagine that the team would’ve been in a position to win a national championship sooner than 2009. It’s safe to say that things worked out just fine though, right?
You can check out the full interview here: