Heel Tough Blog: Carolina Basketball All-Decade Starting 5
Updated: Jan 2
As we close in on the end of 2019, it't time to look back on the decade of Carolina Basketball we just experienced. It was a decade full of highs such as winning the 2017 national championship, and lows like losing the 2016 national championship game. The program also navigated a academic scandal that rocked the entire university and made us all question our beliefs of what Carolina Basketball stood for. We also held our breath as Roy Williams wend under multiple surgeries, and cried when we heard the news of Dean Smith & Bill Guthridge's death. Despite all that, Carolina still played great basketball, which of course was led by great players. With that in mind we decided to determine who was the 5 best players that put on the North Carolina uniform?
Point Guard/Shooting Guard - Marcus Paige: This was the toughest decision as Carolina had a abundance of great play from the point guard decision. Ultimately it was impossible to not give Marcus Paige the nod here. As fans we saw Paige develop from a skinny point guard who struggled adjusting to the college game, become one the best shooters in program history. His competitiveness guided him and his 2016 team to the brink of a national championship in 2016. In his sophomore season Paige was named the ACC's Most Improved Player, 1st Team All-ACC, and a second team All-American. Paige also hold the UNC record for most 3 pointers made in a career.
Point Guard/Shooting Guard - Joel Berry ll: Berry was a player that we saw develop as much as any player under Roy Williams tenure as the head coach. As a freshman Berry rarely played and even considered transferring away from UNC. He came back and was a big part of the 2016 team that won both the ACC regular season and tournament titles, as he was named MVP of the ACC Tournament championship game. Following the heartbreak 2016 ending, he returned and led Carolina to the title in 2017. Berry is one of the more beloved Tar Heels in recent memory, and his Senior Day speech will forever be remembered. Berry became the first player since Bill Walton to score 20 or more points in back to back title games. He also won the Dean Smith Most Valuable Player Award his senior season.
Small Forward - Justin Jackson: The small forward from Texas was a top 10 recruit when he committed to North Carolina, and while it took some time for him to play like it, Jackson had a stellar 3 seasons on campus. Jackson was known best for his patented floater, which was impossible for defenders to guard without fouling. After taking some time to adjust to the college game, Jackson had a stellar junior season. He was named the ACC Player of the Year in 2017, as well being selected to 1st Team All-American team. It was no coincidence that his breakout season ended with him helping UNC cut down the nets in Phoenix that April. Jackson was a first round selection of the Sacramento Kings, and now starts for the Dallas Mavericks.
Power Forward - John Henson: Like most of the players aforementioned Henson wasn't great as a freshman, but developed over his time on campus. His freshman season, Carolina missed the NCAA Tournament, but made a run in the NIT making it all the way to the final before losing to Dayton. Henson returned and anchored a dominant post game alongside center Tyler Zeller. Henson was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in both 2011 and 2012. He was a big part of teams that won back to back ACC regular season championships, in which both seasons ended in the Elite Eight. Henson was a first round pick of the Milwaukee Bucks
Center - Tyler Zeller: After winning a championship in 2009, Tyler Zeller wasn't done accomplishing feats at UNC. After a sophomore season where averaged over 9 points, Zeller really picked up his production his final two seasons. As a junior, Tyler averaged over 15 points per game while shooting over 54% from the field. As a senior, Zeller scored 17 points pet game, on his way to being named the 2012 ACC Player of the Year. He was also a 1st Team All-ACC selection, while being named 2nd team All-American. His jersey hangs in the rafters of the Smith Center.
-Kendall Marshall ( Point Guard )
-Coby White ( Point Guard )
-Reggie Bullock ( Shooting Guard/Small Forward )
-Harrison Barnes ( Small Forward )
-Theo Pinson ( Small Forward )
-Luke Maye ( Power Forward )
-Brice Johnson ( Power Forward )
-Isaiah Hicks ( Power Forward )
-Kennedy Meeks ( Center )
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