The last time the North Carolina Tar Heels won the ACC Tournament was 5 years ago, that included a blowout win over Notre Dame and facing Virginia in the final… could it happen again?
The 2016 season is a year to forget for a lot of Tar Heels, falling at the last hurdle against Villanova, although it was the last time that UNC won the ACC Tournament.
Victories over Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Virginia in the final was enough for the #1 Tar Heels to cut down the nets at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C (sadly not Greensboro Coliseum). Here is a look at the players that were on scholarship during that season for UNC and where they are now.
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Justin Jackson (Oklahoma City Thunder – NBA)
Justin Jackson has spent the most time in the NBA so far out of the UNC 2015/16 team. He was drafted by the Portland Trailblazers. With a draft day trade, Justin headed to Sacramento and played two seasons for the Kings averaging around 21 minutes per game.
Jackson was then traded to Dallas Mavericks with fellow Tar Heel Harrison Barnes going the other way, where he had his first experience of the NBA Playoffs. Now finding himself on his third NBA team in 4 years after being traded to OKC. Justin is playing on a young team that is building for the future and he had a huge night in February with 22 points and 4 from 4 behind the arc.
Joel Berry II (Besiktas – Turkey)
MVP of the ACC Tournament in 2016, Joel Berry had quite the career at UNC and since leaving Chapel Hill has made a good start to professional basketball. Joel spent some time in the NBA G-League before heading over to Turkey to play overseas this season.
Joel is currently in the Top 5 of minutes played, points scored and assists for his team, in addition to leading the team in steals per game. Joel and Besiktas are currently on a three game win streak with Berry averaging 14.3 points per game.
Besiktas are currently 5th in the league and lets hope to see Joel help push the team higher up the table. You can read more here about the other Tar Heels in Europe.
Marcus Paige (KK Partizan – Serbia)
Marcus ‘Second Half’ Paige was in his senior season in 2016 and will be remembered as one of the most beloved Tar Heels (if only that shot… still not over it!). Since his time at UNC, Marcus has been dominating overseas in Belgrade, Serbia playing in his third season for KK Partizan.
This season saw Marcus break the record for most three pointers in a game for Partizan, as well as playing in the EuroCup against former teammate Luke Maye.
Partizan play in one of the best leagues (ABA) in Eastern Europe with other teams from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia. Marcus’ game has taken well to overseas basketball and I expect to see him playing at the top level for many years to come.
|2019/20||KK PARTIZAN (SERBIA)||22.3||9.93||1.88||0.79|
|2020/21||KK PARTIZAN (SERBIA)||26.5||9.26||2.15||0.79|
Kenny Williams (Austin Spurs – NBA G-League)
It was Kenny’s freshman year the 2015/16 season and he went on to spend four years in Chapel Hill, including two back-to-back championship games. Since graduating, Williams has been playing professional basketball in the NBA G-League for the Austin Spurs.
Williams has had some top performances in the G-League with a career high of 31 points last season, and just last week saw a season high with 6-10 three pointers.
Kenny has spent some time on the San Antonio Spurs Summer League team and hopefully these standout games will open the eyes to the staff down the road in Texas.
Kennedy Meeks (Changwon LG Sakers – South Korea)
In my opinion, Kennedy was the glue guy for the 2015/16 season. Every team has a player that you can’t live without and for me that was Meeks. He brought so much to the floor during his days at UNC and that block in the next season will forever be one of my favourite memories.
Kennedy started playing professional basketball in Asia after a season in the NBA G-League. Meeks first went to Japan and now finds himself in South Korea playing for the Changwon LG Sakers (recently traded from Seoul Thunders where he was playing with life long friend Isaiah Hicks). Meeks has only played four games for his new team after the recent trade, but the season before he was putting up big numbers and averaged over 20 and 10 for a whole season.
|2018/19||AISHIN SEA HORSES (JAPAN)||32.0||14.68||11.0||1.05||17|
|2019/20||LEVANGA HOKKAIDO (JAPAN)||34.1||20.97||10.87||1.23||21|
|2020/21||SEOUL SAMSUNG THUNDERS (SOUTH KOREA)||15.1||6.81||6.00||0.31||1|
|2020/21||CHANGWON LG SAKERS (SOUTH KOREA)||10.7||7.25||4.25||0.5||0|
Theo Pinson (New York Knicks – NBA)
Okay, can you have two glue guys in a team? Theo Pinson has to be one of the greatest teammates and you know what, that could help you make it in the NBA. Pinson has been at the Brooklyn Nets and now New York Knicks, he has also spent some time in their G-League affiliate teams, and has been getting the call up.
Theo is still enjoying himself off the court and you can see many highlights of him hyping up the teams bench. I look forward to seeing more of Theo in the NBA and hope to see him get some more minutes for the Knicks.
|2018/19||LONG ISLAND NETS||35.6||20.68||6.12|
|2019/20||LONG ISLAND NETS||32.0||15.33||5.0|
|2020/21||NEW YORK KNICKS||2.3||0.18||0.09|
Brice Johnson (BC Budivelnik – Ukraine)
Brice Johnson has had quite the career already with experience with games in the NBA with LA Clippers and Memphis, four different NBA G-League teams and four teams overseas.
We all remember Brice bringing down boards and finishing off dunks (usually coming from Marcus Paige)… not much has changed! Johnson now finds himself in Kiev, Ukraine and has been playing some great basketball. Just check out one of the highlight plays below.
|2019/20||CHORALE ROANNE (FRANCE)||25.4||13.29||5.43||0.43|
Joel James (Duzce Belediye – Turkey)
Joel James was one of the most animated players we had at UNC during his time there from 2012-2016. If you remember watching UNC during that period, Joel was always getting behind his team and coming up big when called upon. Joel played 135 games for the Tar Heels over his four years.
Since graduating, Joel has spent time playing professional basketball in Mexico for two seasons, before crossing the Atlantic Ocean and landing in Turkey. Joel is a starter for Duzce Belediye and his numbers are the highest of his career since High School Basketball, now averaging a double double.
Joel’s game last week saw him finish with 18 points and 17 rebounds in a win. BIG TIME!
|2018/19||RAYOS DE HERMOSILLO (MEXICO)||27.3||12.11||9.57||22|
|2019/20||CAPITANES CIUDAD DE MEXICO (MEXICO)||22.2||10.91||6.14||6|
|2020/21||DUZCE BELEDIYE (TURKEY)||28.3||13.19||12.05||16|
Nate Britt (Wiha Panthers – Germany)
Nate Britt has travelled around the world playing the game he loves since graduating from Chapel Hill. Nate has gone from the United Kingdom, to Argentina, Cyprus and now in Germany.
Nate is playing for the Wiha Panthers, who play in the second tier of German basketball and Nate has been playing some of his best basketball this season. Britt is the leader in Assists and Steals for the team, also in the Top 15 Leading Scorers in the division. There are still plenty more games left in the German Pro A league and I’m excited to keep an eye on Nate’s numbers.
|2019/20||OMONIA NICOSIA (CYPRUS)||33.7||14.52||3.62||4.14||1.76|
|2020/21||WIHA PANTHERS (GERMANY)||30.0||14.59||5.45||4.17||2.05|
Isaiah Hicks (Seoul Thunders – South Korea)
Last season Isaiah Hicks started his overseas career with a season in Russia, before heading over to South Korea to play in the big city of Seoul. As you read earlier, Isaiah was teaming up with Kennedy in Seoul before a trade just a couple weeks ago.
Hicks has been Seoul’s best player this season, leading the team in PPG, RPG and BPG. Hicks is currently in the Top 5 for PPG and BPG of the Korean Basketball League.
|2019/20||AVTODAR SARATOV (RUSSIA)||28.3||12.86||6.71||2.0|
|2020/21||SEOUL SAMSUNG THUNDERS|
Luke Maye (Dolomoti Energia Trento – Italy)
LUUUKKKEEEE!!! Luke Maye is still getting those chants but nowadays it is overseas in Italy. After some time in the G-League up in Wisconsin, Luke is now in his first season overseas playing for Trento where he has faced up against former teammate Marcus Paige twice this season.
It was Luke Maye’s freshman season when UNC won the ACC Tournament and little did we know the star he would be in Chapel Hill. Maye is still getting noticed for his abilities and was awarded MVP of the Week in the EuroCup, which is the second highest cup competition in European Basketball. Who knows what the future is for Luke, but wherever he does play, I’m expecting him to dominate.
Stilman White is the only player on scholarship during the 2015/16 season that did not go on to play professional basketball. Stilman’s time at UNC went over a 6 year period from 2011 to 2017. After Stilman graduated he went onto work for a company working on high performance, interiors and fiber products in Michigan.
The members of the Blue Steel for the Tar Heels were Kanler Coker, Justin Coleman, Toby Egbuna and Spenser Dalton.
You have to admit this was a great Tar Heel team, they may not have gone all the way in March but were the last Carolina team to win the ACC Tournament. Who was your favourite player from that season?
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