Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My Favorite Tar Heels ... By The Numbers

With UNC-Duke coming up, I'm feeling a bit nostalgic.  So here are my favorite UNC players by uniform number.  No, not the best player with each number ... but my favorite.  Names listed in italics were also considered.

0:  NATE BRITT.  I have a soft spot for Britt.

00:  ERIC MONTROSS.  The big man not only helped lead the Heels to the 1993 NCAA title, but is the current radio analyst for Carolina.  Brandan Haywood

1:  DEXTER STRICKLAND.  For three years, I was nervous anytime Strickland had the ball in his hands.  His senior year, I trusted him.  Melvin Scott, Marcus Ginyard.

2:  RAYMOND FELTON.  I loved Felton's game at Carolina and he quarterbacked the 2005 NCAA title team.  Wayne Ellington

3:  SHAMMOND WILLIAMS.  A combo guard who came up with some huge shots in his career.  Kennedy Meeks.

4:  BOBBY FRASOR.  A forgotten man in UNC lore.  Think about the point guard hierarchy and Frasor gets lost (in between Felton and Ty Lawson).  Still, he was a smart, heady player who made the smart play.  

5:  TY LAWSON.  There may not be a more difficult number to pick.  Lawson was the lynchpin to the 2009 title team and could not be guarded that season.  Nearly the perfect point guard for Roy Williams.  Fast, smart, tough and didn't turn the ball over.  Kendall Marshall, Ed Cota, Marcus Paige, Jeff McInnis.

10:  LENNIE ROSENBLUTH.  Rosenbluth is a Carolina legend at the #10 has been retired for more than half a century.

11:  BRICE JOHNSON.  A newbie on this list.  Johnson may be the most NBA talented of the current bunch.  If he stays for a senior season, it could be magical.  Larry Brown, Quentin Thomas.

12:  PHIL FORD.  One of the greatest players in Carolina history.  This number is permanently retired.

13:  ADEMOLA OKULAJA.  People forget that he was also in that freshman class with Jamison and Vince-anity.  But Okulaja came in and played hard and had a solid UNC career.  He could get passed by my next guy on my list.  J.P. Tokoto

14:  DERRICK PHELPS.  Phelps may be the most underrated UNC player in the last quarter century.  He was a great ballhandler and passer for the 1993 title team and was one heck of a defensive player.  The last game the Heels lost that year was one that Phelps was injured in.  Jeff Lebo, Danny Green

15:  VINCE CARTER.  One of the few no-brainers on this list.

20:  GEORGE GLAMACK.  Okay, he played in the 1930s and 40s so I don't know much about him.  This number is retired for him, though.  Steve Bucknall

21:  DONALD WILLIAMS.  What a Final Four he had in 1993!  His 50 points in both games and key free throws won Dean Smith his second title.  He never took off as a star in his final two UNC seasons, but he will always be a legend in Chapel Hill.  Jimmy Black, Mitch Kupchak, King Rice, Deon Thompson

22:  WAYNE ELLINGTON.  Ellington started his UNC career with #2 (see above) but he made his mark as #22.  He was the MOP of the 2009 Final Four.  Ronald Curry, Buzz Peterson

23:  MICHAEL JORDAN.  As if there was any other.

24:  DANTE CALABRIA.  Calabria was the kind of kid who started off rough in Chapel Hill but became a big part of UNC lore.  Big tip in against Duke and one of the best long range shooters in Heels history.  He was on the 1993 title team as a freshman and a key part of the 1995 Final Four squad.  Marvin Williams

25:  JASON CAPEL.  A nice player, Capel will forever be remembered for being on that horrible 2002 UNC squad.  Steve Hale

30:  RASHEED WALLACE.  One of my favorite Carolina players.  A high flyer that was a dominant inside force.  Plus I loved his screaming dunks.  Kenny Smith, Al Wood

31:  JOHN HENSON.  I can still see his lanky body blocking shots and hitting those jumpers.  Mike O'Koren, Brian Reese

32:  BILLY CUNNINGHAM.  The Kangaroo Kid was one of Dean Smith's first stars at UNC.  A solid NBA player and Hall Of Famer.  Pete Chilcutt, Ed Davis

33:  ANTAWN JAMISON.  Jamison is from Charlotte, like me, and had a dominant career at UNC.  Two Final Fours, though one of those should've been cashed in for a title.  Charlie Scott

34:  GEORGE LYNCH.  Lynch was a sophomore on that 1991 Final Four team that should've played Duke for the title and was the leader on the 1993 team that did win it all.  One of those guys who outhustled guys who were more talented than he was.  J.R. Reid

35:  BOB MCADOO.  McAdoo played just one season at Carolina, but it was a great one.  One of the best hoops players of all time and a Hall Of Famer.  Doug Moe, Reggie Bullock

40:  HUBERT DAVIS.  Davis was one of the few UNC players to average over 20 points per game in a season and bridged the 1991 and 1993 teams.  His senior season of 1992 was one of the best by a Tar Heel.  Harrison Barnes, Joseph Forte.

41:  SAM PERKINS.  Everyone loves to talk about Jordan and Worthy on that 1982 title team, but Sam Perkins was one of the best players in the nation.  He is one of the all-time great Carolina shot blockers and rebounders.  Not to mention a classy individual.

42:  JERRY STACKHOUSE.  Another tough number.  Stackhouse graduated high school in North Carolina the same year I did.  He was an explosive player with one of the most memorable dunks in UNC lore.  Brad Daugherty, Sean May, Scott Williams.  

43:  JAMES MICHAEL MCADOO.  Funny that not many UNC players have taken to this number.  So much so that JMM's inconsistent subpar career will be recognized in this spot.

44:  TYLER ZELLER.  Tough one, but I'm giving it to Zeller.  His career got off to a rough start with a broken wrist against Kentucky in his freshman year.  Instead of sitting the entire season and redshirting, he came back at the end of the year so he could be part of a title team.  As a senior, he was ACC Player Of The Year.  Another smart player who used his talents wisely.  If not for Kendall Marshall's injury, he could've brought home the 2012 title.  Rick Fox.  

45:  JULIUS PEPPERS.  Peppers is one of two players to play in a Final Four and a Super Bowl.  While he never was an elite hoops player, his toughness and high rising act was a catalyst for the Heels' 2000 Final Four run.

50:  TYLER HANSBROUGH.  With apologies to Phil Ford, Hansbrough had the best Carolina career of anyone.  He won Player Of The Year.  He won a title.  He jumped off balconies into pools.  He is a UNC legend.  Bloody noses, dunking on 7'7 dudes and winning all four games he played at Cameron Indoor Stadium makes him one of the best.

51:  TIMO MAKKONEN.  The only Heel to wear #51, he was the human victory cigar during those Michael Jordan seasons of the early to mid 1980s.

52:  JAMES WORTHY.  While Michael Jordan will always get the pub, James Worthy was the man on that 1982 squad.  He dominated that game and that season.  A Hall Of Famer who is one of the most beloved Tar Heels.

54:  VASCO EMTIMOV.  Remember him?

55:  MATT WENSTROM.  As Shaquille O'Neal will tell it, Wenstrom is the reason Shaq decided not to go to Carolina.  DAMN IT!

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