The 10 best UNC basketball players of all time could make quite the laundry list. So many amazing players have spent there college days in Tar Heel powder blue that making a list of only ten involves leaving off a lot of really good players, and will certainly lead to disagreement among die-hard fans.
- Michael Jordan Jordan NBA career achievements are well documented. However, his collegiate career is often overlooked. During his three-year career, he was awarded the ACC Rookie of the Year, ACC Player of the Year, and National Player of the Year honors. His game-winning shot against Georgetown in the 1982 Championship game is one of the most memorable moments in UNC history.
- James Worthy A teammate of Jordan’s, James Worthy was the leader of the team. In the Championship game, he racked up 28 points on a hyper-efficient 13 of 17 from the field. As an upperclassman, Worthy overshadowed the younger Jordan during their time together as Tar Heels. Obviously, their careers took wholly different trajectories in the pro ranks, though Worthy was a key player on a several Lakers championship teams.
- Sam Perkins Known as the “Big Smooth,” Sam Perkins exuded a cool and calculating demeanor on the court. Despite playing behind two Tar Heel legends (Worthy and Jordan), he still found a way to leave his own mark on UNC history, ranking third all time in scoring.
- Phil Ford Ford played four years at UNC from 1974-1978. A lightning quick point guard with tremendous handles, Ford is widely considered one of the greatest Tar Heels of all time, ushering in the beginning of the dominant Dean Smith era. He ranks second all time in scoring in school history, and his No. 12 jersey is one of only eight ever retired.
- Ed Cota Largely as a result of never making it to the pros, many fans outside of Chapel Hill have forgotten how good Ed Cota was. A true point guard, Cota lead the Tar Heels to three Final Four appearances during his four-year career. He is the all-time leader in assists at UNC, and third all-time in the NCAA. With Cota, however, it was never his stats that dazzled you, but his play—what he brought to the game, the “intangibles.”
- Antawn Jamison Jamison led the Tar Heels to consecutive Final Four appearances. He averaged a dominating 19 points and 10 rebounds over his three-year career, unanimously winning the Naismith Player of the Year award in 1998. His number 33 was retired in 2000.
- Billy Cunningham Nicknamed the “Kangaroo Kid,” Cunningham was one of the greatest rebounders in school history. Against Clemson in 1963, he grabbed an astounding and record-setting 27 rebounds. A year later, he set a school record for points scored in a game with 48 against Tulane. He finished the 1963 season with an average of 16 rebounds per game. In 2002, Cunningham was named to the ACC 50th Anniversary teams, honoring the top 50 players in conference history.
- Charlie Scott Best known as being the first black player in school history, Scott led the Tar Heels to three consecutive conference titles and two Final Four appearances. Playing during time of heightened racial tension, Scott was regularly overlooked for honors and awards. However, his career averages of 27 points and over 7 rebounds a game speak for themselves.
- Lennie Rosenbluth Lennie Rosenbluth led 1957 Tar Heels to a perfect 32-0 record while averaging 28 points and 9 rebounds a game. That team went on to beat Kansas for the school’s first national championship. In that game, Rosenbluth, despite being overmatched physically, battled the Jayhawks’ center and all-time great, Wilt Chamberlain. He was named 1957 Player of the Year.
- Tyler Hansborough In his four years at North Carolina, Tyler Hansborough shattered nearly every record on the books, including scoring and rebounding. His averages of 20 points and 9 rebounds for his career alone would put him the conversation as one of the best Tar Heels of all time; throw in a National Championship and a National Player of the Year award, and you got one of the great college players ever—from any school.
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