On Wednesday, the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame announced their inductees for the class of 2022. Two of the class come from UNC, one of whom made you think, “wait, he’s not in there already?”
Nine icons that shaped our game's history.— National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame (@CBHOF) June 29, 2022
Announcing the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2022! pic.twitter.com/cOSXA349A5
The “he’s not in there already?” is Roy Williams. The answer is, yes, Roy was technically part of the college basketball Hall of Fame since its beginning in 2006. In short, if you were in the Naismith Hall of Fame for men’s college basketball, then you were already enshrined. However, as the induction ceremony for this hall is in November-which coincides with the basketball tournament in Kansas City-active coaches would find it difficult to attend the ceremony. Thus, when members of the founding class retire, they get their time to shine. It also allows for these enshrinements to be spread out and avoiding ceremonies that last days.
All of that is to say, yes, Roy Williams was already a Hall of Famer in the eyes of the NACB and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, however he now finally gets to have a ceremony where his long work in college basketball will be noted. He won’t be alone in representing the Tar Heels, however.
Larry Miller is a name that should ring important to any long time UNC fan. For a school that has produced names like Billy Cunningham, Charles Scott, Phil Ford, and Michael Jordan, Larry Miller was arguably the most important superstar for Dean Smith in a lot of ways. Miller played at UNC on the varsity from 1965-1968, and was the main reason why the Tar Heels were able to move on to Dean Smith’s first two Final Fours in 1967 and 1968. He is still the only back-to-back ACC Player of the Year for Carolina, which is a remarkable achievement when you see who has worn the Carolina blue, and had the remarkable achievement of being both the ACC Player of the Year and ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player in back-to-back years, a feat only accomplished by two others.
Miller played in the era where in order to even make it to the NCAA Tournament, you had to win the ACC Tournament. That he stood up two years in a row and backed up his Player of the Year Award by being the best player in that Tournament, under that much pressure, spoke to his importance to the squad. Smith was coming to the end of the decade coming close to being run out of town, and Miller helped lead a class that elevated Smith to the level we all know him today.
A look at his stats just show how important he was for the squad. He averaged over 20 points a game for his entire career, which any UNC fan knows wasn’t the easiest under Smith, played in every game for the Tar Heels, shot over 50% for his career, and had his best year at the free throw line as a senior.
Mike DeCourcey has a great write up on this honor, pointing out how members of the Tar Heels have been lobbying for Miller’s inclusion for years, and points out just how highly regarded he was by who he was named First Team All-American with. It’s an honor that Miller has deserved for a long time, and now, finally, he’ll get his much-deserved day in the Kansas City sun.
Miller becomes the thirteenth Tar Heel to go into the College Basketball Hall of Fame. He joins coaches Ben Carnevale, Frank McGuire, Dean Smith, Larry Brown and Roy Williams and players Billy Cunningham, Bob McAdoo, James Worthy, Phil Ford, Charlie Scott. Sam Perkins, and Antawn Jamison.
The ceremony will be held in Kansas City on November 20th, as it leads into the Hall of Fame Classic.