Tar Heels in Asia

You may have read the post a few weeks ago when I was highlighting the Tar Heels playing overseas in Europe, but Europe isn’t the only continent we have players representing Carolina Basketball. Five Tar Heels played in Asia this season.

The dream is to play in the NBA for so many young players, but this is easier said than done. A study from 2019 showed that 4.2% of draft eligible players from the NCAA were picked in the NBA Draft, although the percentage to play professionally such as G League or overseas is a lot higher at 21%1. If the NBA doesn’t work out, there is always overseas. The University of North Carolina currently have 19 players overseas playing professional basketball.

This post will give you the latest updates on all the Tar Heels playing professional basketball across Asia including highlights, interviews and the most up to date statistics.

  1. https://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/research/estimated-probability-competing-professional-athletics


James Michael McAdoo – Hitachi Sun Rockers (Japan)

James Michael McAdoo was one of the most exciting prospects coming out of High School after winning the 2009 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (also won by the likes of Jordan, Shaq, LeBron, Durant, Carmelo… the list goes on). JMM spent three seasons in Chapel Hill, starting his Tar Heel career teaming up with Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Kendall Marshall. McAdoo ended his time at Carolina Basketball as one of the main go to guys alongside Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson.

McAdoo headed off to the NBA after foregoing his final year, which resulted in him joining the Golden State Warriors and playing his part in back-to-back NBA Championship teams. JMM has recently been playing in Europe, even teaming up with Marcus Paige again in Serbia last season. He decided to take his talents to Asia for the 2020/21 season, playing for Hitachi Sun Rockers in Japan (team-mates with former Dook player, Ryan Kelly).

Hitachi Sun Rockers play in the second tier of Japanese basketball in the B-League and have a current record of 24-13. McAdoo’s has hit a season-high 22 points in games twice this season, also grabbing a season-high 16 rebounds at the end of January. JMM has had a great career so far and looks to continue this overseas.

Originally tweeted by サンロッカーズ渋谷 (@we_r_sunrockers) on January 30, 2021.
TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGBPG
BESIKTAS (TURKEY)2019/2020.78.556.641.0
PARTIZAN BELGRADE (SERBIA)2019/2011.68.03.00.33
HITACHI SUN ROCKERS (JAPAN)2020/2121.611.076.740.41
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 18th 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Jawad Williams – Levanga Hokkaido (Japan)

Jawad Williams spent four seasons at Chapel Hill with his final game on April 4th 2005 which saw him cut down the nets and becoming a NCAA Champion. Since then, Williams has been all over the world playing professional basketball including a few seasons in the NBA with his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. The majority of his career has been spent overseas where Williams would become a champion, again and again.

Jawad won championships in France, Turkey and recently Japan, where he is currently playing. Williams plays for the Levanga Hokkaido of the B-League in Japan with a team record of 9-28. It hasn’t been the greatest of seasons for Jawad’s team, but a player of his calibre should hopefully help turn around their fortunes with plenty of games left this season.

Also, Jawad Williams is now a Children’s Book Author, check out his latest books by clicking here.

Originally tweeted by B.LEAGUE(Bリーグ) (@B_LEAGUE) on June 26, 2020.
TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGAPG
TOYOTA ALVARK (JAPAN)2017/1819.78.83.391.0
TOYOTA ALVARK (JAPAN)2018/1923.610.424.311.27
LINK TOCHIGI BREX (JAPAN)2019/2014.17.162.890.58
LEVANGA HOKKAIDO (JAPAN)2020/2126.010.64.691.54
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 18th 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Kennedy Meeks – Changwon LG Sakers (South Korea)

Kennedy Meeks was a part of the 2017 National Championship team and in all honesty, his block in the Championship game will forever be one of my favourite ever Tar Heel moments. Since graduating from Chapel Hill, Kennedy spent a season in the G-League before heading overseas and taking his game to Asia.

Kennedy’s first stop in Asia was in Japan, playing for the Aishin Sea Horses and then Levanga Hokkaido in the Japanese B-League (the second tier of basketball in Japan). Last season, Kennedy was boasting quite the stat line, averaging over 20 and 10 for a whole season for Levanga Hokkaido and recording 21 DBL/DBLs out of 31 games played. HUGE NUMBERS!

Meeks is now playing in South Korea, after starting the season in Seoul and playing with fellow Tar Heel and close friend Isaiah Hicks. Kennedy was recently involved in a trade a couple of weeks ago that now sees him playing for Changwon LG Sakers. Changwon LG Sakers currently sit bottom of the Korean Basketball League (KBL) with a record of 13-27, but still plenty of games left. The KBL is the top level of basketball in South Korea. Kennedy is still enjoying himself over in South Korea and Japan, he recently shared a more in depth look at his time over there in a podcast with IKEMAX.

Source: YouTube IKEMAX – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGJif483ZTI
TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGBPGDBL/DBL
AISHIN SEA HORSES (JAPAN)2018/1932.014.6811.01.0517
LEVANGA HOKKAIDO (JAPAN)2019/2034.120.9710.871.2321
SEOUL SAMSUNG THUNDERS (SOUTH KOREA)2020/2115.16.816.000.311
CHANGWON LG SAKERS (SOUTH KOREA)2020/2110.77.254.250.50
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 18th 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Isaiah Hicks – Seoul Samsung Thunders (South Korea)

Isaiah Hicks played four years for the UNC Tar Heels with his last game in Carolina Blue cutting down the nets against Gonzaga. Hicks then headed off to the NBA and was picked up by New York Knicks, playing some games at the highest level and then some time in the G-League for the Westchester Knicks.

Last season Isaiah 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 scorers of the league as well.

Seoul currently have a record of 17-22 with still plenty more games left of the 2020/21 season, I wonder if Isaiah can carry Seoul to the Play Offs..?

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGBPG
AVTODAR SARATOV (RUSSIA)2019/2028.312.866.712.0
SEOUL SAMSUNG THUNDERS
(SOUTH KOREA)
2020/2124.816.567.381.36
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 18th 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Justin Knox – Wonju Dongbu Promy (South Korea)

Justin Knox was a graduate transfer in the 2010-2011 season, where the team went to the Elite Eight. Before coming to Chapel Hill, Justin played basketball at the University of Alabama. Since leaving Chapel Hill, Knox has seen a lot of the world thanks to basketball and now finds himself residing in South Korea while playing for the Wonju Dongbu Promy in the KBL.

Knox will go up against fellow Tar Heels, Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks this season, with his team on a four game win streak that sees them at 15-24. Knox currently leads the team in field goal percentage, as well as defensive rebounds per game too.

Justin’s overseas career has now entered his tenth year with him recording his highest points per game this season since 2012/13.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGBPG
PALLACANESTRO TRIESTE (ITALY)2018/1917.110.424.290.68
TRENTO (ITALY)2019/2022.110.575.190.59
WONJU DONGBU PROMY (SOUTH KOREA)2020/2123.815.417.210.74
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 18th 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Tyler Hansbrough – Sichuan Blue Whales (China)

Some may say he’s the greatest ever Tar Heel, and you know what… it would be a pretty good debate. Tyler Hansbrough’s career at North Carolina was legendary. He still holds the record for points and rebounds all-time and in all honesty, I don’t see those records being broken for a very long time.

Since leaving Chapel Hill in 2009, Tyler had a solid NBA career before heading over to China in 2017. Tyler’s three seasons in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) have seen him get impressive individual numbers, but he has not played during the 2020/21 season. Last season, Tyler averaged over 32 points a game, with one game he recorded 49 points and 22 rebounds… wow.

“I love China, I love the people, it’s been a great experience. I loved all three cities. I enjoy going to China, I enjoy playing and I still feel I’m really good at what I do.”

Tyler Hansbrough on Carolina Insider

This season comes to an end later this month and I’m unsure if Tyler didn’t play due to the pandemic or if he is even still under contract at Sichuan? Either way, Hansbrough sounds like he wants to come back to the CBA and it would be great to see Psycho-T dominating again.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGSPG
GUANGZHOU LOONG LIONS (CHINA)2017/1826.720.859.921.26
ZHEJIANG CHOUZHOU (CHINA)2018/1932.020.1110.931.63
SICHUAN BLUE WHALES (CHINA)2019/2036.532.2913.411.71
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 18th 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did putting it together. If you enjoyed this, check out the ‘Tar Heels in Europe’ post and I will be posting another update on the Tar Heels in Europe next week.

Click on the Twitter link and follow for more updates on players overseas.

Top 5 Games vs Duke over last 10 years

Over the past ten years we’ve had our battles with that school in Durham, with the Tar Heels on a 10-15 record over that timeframe (FYI, all-time series is 140-114). It’s the game all Tar Heel fans look forward to, it’s the game all basketball fans look forward to… it is the biggest rivalry in sports.

I’ve been looking back through the box scores, the highlights, the shoes worn (hint hint Zion) and I wanted to give my opinion on the best Tar Heel games we’ve had this last decade against Dook.


THESE YOUNG GUYS CAN PLAY!

Date: March 5th, 2011
Location: Chapel Hill
Result: 81-67 W

The 2010-2011 season was always going to be better than the 17 loss season the year before (Coach William’s worst record), but #13 UNC taking down #4 Duke on Senior Night has got to be one of the best moments.

“The last 10 months haven’t been very easy a lot of the times, but that crowd in that locker room has been fantastic. As a coach, where you get your strength is your relationship with the players. This group has been phenomenal to work with.”

Coach Roy Williams

A team filled with talent including; Harrison Barnes (FR), John Henson (SO), Kendall Marshall (FR), Tyler Zeller (JR), Dexter Strickland (SO) and Leslie McDonald (SO) really showed out in the Dean Dome.

Freshmen Barnes delivered with 18 points and Marshall controlled the offense with 15 points and 11 assists (including a huge spin move, you must have seen on YouTube before). Tyler Zeller was also dominant with some huge slams over the Dookies. While Dexter Strickland’s posterizer will forever live in Tar Heels minds.

A highlight for me was watching Mason Plumlee foul out (you couldn’t help but dislike the Plumlee brothers) and also seeing Coach K on all fours banging the floor at the Smith Center in frustration. You love to see it!

Duke did try to fight back with Nolan Smith nailing 30 against us (it always felt like players could have their season-highs against us), also Seth Curry dropped 20 with 6 from behind the arc.

Even with this from Dook, the Tar Heels led by 12 at half-time and never let them get closer than 5. This resulting in UNC clinching the ACC Regular Season Championship.


DON’T DISS KENDALL!

Date: March 3rd, 2012
Location: Durham
Result: 88-70 W

It was 24 days earlier we had ‘that’ game in Chapel Hill, it tipped off at 2am GMT and I remember watching Austin Rivers shot go in around 4am, mad as hell. Dook fans didn’t want to let us forget (still don’t) and kept playing the shot before the game. Kendall Marshall in his second season with UNC got the team in a huddle.

“I told my teammates I thought that was disrespectful, and we need to go out here and prove a point. It left a bad taste in our mouths.”

Kendall Marshall

Kendall had 20 and 10 that night and he rallied the rest of the Heels. A team with the likes of; Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Reggie Bullock, PJ Hairston, James Michael McAdoo… this time was packed with ability.

Tar Heels were #6 in the country and Duke were #4 with the likes of the Plumlee Brothers, Austin Rivers and Seth Curry, but they were no issue to North Carolina this night. UNC led the whole daggum game!

Zeller was getting heckled throughout the night due to the previous game and his reply was 19 points and 10 rebounds. Barnes added 16 points as well.

Like last years game, it was a winner take all season finale for the ACC Regular Season Title.. again it was the boys in Carolina Blue.


HELLO SECOND HALF PAIGE.

Date: February 20th, 2014
Location: Chapel Hill
Result: 74-66 W

Who remembers Second Half Paige?! When Marcus would just turn it on in the second half and the opposition didn’t have a chance. In this game, that happened with Paige scoring all his 13 points in the last 20 minutes.

UNC were unranked in this matchup against #5 Duke, but that didn’t concern the Tar Heels who won their eighth straight game. It was time for Senior Leslie McDonald to dominate his last game against Duke in Chapel Hill with 21 points.

“I’m not going to say we’re a finished product because we’ve got games left, but man, we’re playing really well right now and we’re winning games in a lot of different ways.”

Marcus Paige

This was a strange season with losses against; Belmont, UAB and starting the ACC with 0-3. It was also the same season that included wins against; #1 Michigan State, #3 Louisville, #11 Kentucky and a 12 game winning streak in ACC.

The Duke team was led by Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, the team even still had a Plumlee brother on it, but still wasn’t enough to overcome the Heels.

James Michael McAdoo provided some big highlights with a double-double and McDonald’s 21 will live in the minds of many Tar Heels before they rushed Franklin Street, man I loved this team!


CEILING IS THE ROOF!

Date: March 5th, 2017
Location: Chapel Hill
Result: 90-83 W

Michael Jordan heads onto the court at Half-Time to promote the UNC Football Program and partnership with Jordan Brand, including the VERY memorable Ceiling Is The Roof speech. AMAZING.

Luckily though, that was not the only highlight on the night in Chapel Hill and Joel Berry II had a game to remember. HECK A SEASON TO REMEMBER. SPOILER.

Joel dropped 28 points with 5 from 5 from deep as leading scorer Justin Jackson did struggle from behind the arc, although still providing 15 points.

Finally, the Plumlee Brothers have left Durham so the Heels needed someone else to hate… welcome Grayson Allen. Watching him miss three free throws in the final 3 minutes of a game is always fun to see. Jayson Tatum never got going, but even 28 points from Luke Kennard wasn’t enough.

Joel stole the show that night in Chapel Hill as #5 UNC took down #17 Duke with 7 straight baskets late in the game. Isaiah Hicks hit 21 points as well in a game with 24 lead changes and 14 ties before UNC pushed away.

“You know what? Big-time players have got to make big-time plays in big-time games.”

Coach Roy Williams

This was a big-time highlight in a big-time season and we all know how it ended. CEILING IS THE ROOF.


THE SHOE GAME.

Date: February 21st, 2019.
Location: Durham
Result: 88-72 W

30 seconds into the game, you didn’t expect to know the winner of the game but I remember watching the game and Zion Williamson’s foot blew through his Nike shoe and was out for the whole game… you knew.

It was 2am GMT, I’ve been nervous all season to face Zion and #1 Dook, then this happened and our Seniors balled out; Luke Maye (30pts) and Cam Johnson (26pts) had nights to remember.

Luke Maye was the star of the show with 30 and 15 in Durham as the game was joined by the presence of President Barack Obama, Spike Lee and Ken Griffey Jr. Duke still had RJ Barret and Cam Reddish on their team with the absence of Zion, but UNC took advantage of the hole left in the paint by outscoring Duke 62-28 with their scoring inside.

First, I’m thinking if he’s OK, man and I hope he makes a quick recovery. But when he goes down, I’m obviously trying to attack — and I was going to do that anyway. I was going to try to get inside and work inside out and just play my game and play the way I know I can play.”

Luke Maye

UNC took down the #1 Duke, first time we’ve beat #1 since Michigan State in 2013. For me this was such a memorable game because I’ll admit I didn’t have high hopes for this game all year long and then boy was I proven wrong!

Garrison Brooks bagged 14 points alongside Cam’s 26 (none of them 3 pointers by the way). A match that was obviously going to be overshadowed on SportsCenter for other reasons, UNC took down #1 Dook and it felt so good.


HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Date: March 5th, 2016
Location: Durham
Result: 76-72 W

UNC do what UNC do and outrebounded Duke with 64-29 rebounds. We just bullied those Dookies off their own court. Brice Johnson finished with 18 points and 21 boards!!

Date: March 9th, 2018
Location: Brooklyn
Result: 74-69 W

Grayson Allen is one of most disgusting players to pick up a basketball. Allen tripped Garrison Brooks in the ACC Semi-Final, but him playing for a full 40 minutes and still seeing Dook lose was amazing to see. Luke Maye finished with 17 and 10.

Date: March 9th, 2019
Location: Chapel Hill
Result: 79-70 W

North Carolina take down #1 Dook again for a regular season sweep. Coby White with 21 points and Maye with 7 points, 7 assists and 11 rebounds. WHAT A TEAM!


WHAT DO YOU THINK TAR HEELS? WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE GAME OVER THE PAST DECADE? FOLLOW ON TWITTER BELOW AND LET ME KNOW.

The Future of UNC

I think there’s no denying that the current UNC team are inexperienced and they’ve been getting a lot of criticism for the mistakes made this year.. but it’s not all bad, at all.

Let’s take a quick look at what the statistics say about University of North Carolina’s Freshmen Class and what does the future look like?

The Stats.

UNC is ranked 323rd most experienced team, out of 342 teams. 7 out of 11 of our rotation are freshmen and playing 50.8% of the minutes played.

Freshmen have made 35 starts this season; Caleb Love (14), RJ Davis (10), Kerwin Walton (8). This is the fourth most in the nation.

Freshmen are third, fourth and fifth in the scoring charts for the Tar Heels (Love, Sharpe, Davis). First time there are three freshmen in the top 5 in scoring since 2006-07, with Brandan Wright, Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson. They ended up having quite a good UNC career (and NBA).

Freshmen have scored 53.1% of UNC’s points this year and that’s the second highest in any season at UNC. Only a team from 2002-03 stacked by May, Felton, McCants and Noel scored a higher percentage of the teams points when they were scoring 62% of the points.

Caleb Love is joined by great company as a young starting point guard with this being the eighth time Coach Williams’ has started a freshmen at PG for a majority of the season. (Frasor, Lawson, Marshall, Paige, Britt, White and Anthony).

Caleb Love, RJ Davis and Day’Ron Sharpe have been ballin’ this year too, all winning ACC Freshman of the Week this season. First time three players have won this award since 2010-11 after Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall and Reggie Bullock picked up the award.

The Future.

If we look at past Tar Heels mentioned already; Rashad McCants, Sean May, Raymond Felton, Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson. These players stayed for a few seasons and all got to cut down the net as a NATIONAL CHAMPION.

Will the freshmen from this year stay a few seasons in Chapel Hill? There’s talks about Love and Sharpe leaving school early, Walker Kessler is being touted a future NBA player. Although we know we’re not a One and Done school (forget Little and Anthony we knew that was going to happen and Coby was a surprise and he deserved it!), will any of our freshmen be off this year?

I know we’ve made offers to three out of the top 10 recruits in next year’s recruiting class of 2021 but not even my biased Tar Heel heart could convince me that they’ll sign (prove me wrong universe!).

BUT…. Armando Bacot (Best UNC Player this year? Potentially) is still only a Sophomore and Leaky Black still has one more year left before graduating as a Senior. Our future looks in good hands.

This Season.

From how we’ve been playing, you will see the Tar Heels in Indianapolis in March, for how long.. that is the question. Our current best prediction is UNC making the second week in March then we’ll likely be against a #1 seed. Joe Lunardi has recently said in his latest ESPN article that we will be against Gonzaga in the second round and well, I like playing Gonzaga (2017).

Tar Heels, what do you think our future looks like?

Another championship banner in next few years?

UNC Big’s Ceiling

I try to think back to when we had such potential in the Big’s position at UNC. You can go back to 2016/17 with Maye, Meeks, Hicks and Bradley (that’s a championship calibre team.. oh wait).

But if I compare our current Big Four of Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot, Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler, would you class them as better than the 2017 Big’s?? I might say so.

In the 2020/21 Big Four you have; three 5 star recruits out of High School (Bacot, Sharpe, Kessler) and 1 Pre Season ACC Player of the Year (Brooks), now I know we have a young back-court this year and we’re leaning on our forwards to really step up.. and they are.

The Big Four from 2016/17 Ceiling

  • Luke Maye is currently playing in Italy, with some time in the NBA G League.
  • Kennedy Meeks has been enjoying his professional basketball career in Japan since graduating.
  • Isaiah Hicks is currently on same team with Meeks in Japan following some time in the NBA G League and few games in NBA with New York Knicks.
  • Tony Bradley has been in NBA since his one year at UNC and over past two seasons is getting a lot more minutes for Utah Jazz and now Philadelphia 76ers.

The Big Four from 2020/21 Ceiling

  • Garrison Brooks was named Pre Season ACC Player of the Year with some NBA Mocks Drafts taken him late second round.
  • Day’Ron Sharpe came in as a five star recruit and has been exceeding expectations on the court, some NBA Mock Drafts had him going in this year’s draft late in first round (I don’t see him declaring this year).
  • Armando Bacot has stepped up this season, most improved player? I’d say so. Some drafts saying late second round (I see him staying for his Senior Season).
  • Walker Kessler has been talked about with a long NBA career already, but is fourth in the line up of this Big Four. I see Walker in the NBA, but maybe in a couple years.

Compare Statistics of the Big Four’s

NameMPGPPGRPGBBG
Kennedy Meeks24.312.539.451.18
Isaiah Hicks22.311.825.460.74
Luke Maye14.15.543.940.2
Tony Bradley14.67.082.550.58
(Source: basketball.realgm.com)
NameMPGPPGRPGBBG
Garrison Brooks28.310.27.131.0
Armando Bacot22.912.077.670.67
Day’Ron Sharpe20.19.477.730.8
Walker Kessler6.92.42.270.4
(Source: basketball.realgm.com – latest 25/01/2021)

Obviously the 2017 Big Four went on to win the National Championship with the help of a super talented and experienced back-court. What is the potential for the 2021 Big Four? I expect to see us in March but am I predicting this through Carolina Blue tinted spectacles?

Another question is, how much effect has Sean May had on our current Big Four? Sean is one of the most talented Big’s we have had at Chapel Hill and Coach William’s quotes him as one of the most intelligent. This can be only good for the ceiling of potential for our current Big Four.

I guess only time will tell the potential of our forwards in Chapel Hill, but I am pretty excited to see it all unfold.

What do you think?

Tar Heels in Europe

The dream for so many College Athletes is to step onto the courts of the NBA.. but it is well known that only the best of the best can get there. There are currently 13 Tar Heels playing in the NBA, but they’re not the only professional athletes making a living from playing ball.

The Tar Heel Times announced that we have 25 Tar Heels who are playing professional basketball internationally. There is University of North Carolina Alumni hooping on the four corners of the earth and here is an update on the players who have taken their talents to Europe;

Brice Johnson – Budivelnyk (Ukraine)

We were lucky enough to have Brice at Chapel Hill for his whole college career and he was a monster on the boards (tying Psycho-T’s rebounds in a season) and had such a connection with Paige throughout his time at UNC. Brice got drafted to the NBA with the LA Clippers, but since 2018 he has had 9 different teams on his resumé from the G League to across Europe, now finding himself in Kiev the capital of Ukraine.

Budivelnyk have the most championships in the Ukrainian Super League, but had to withdraw from the league due to debt issues. But this season after two years out they’re back and finding themselves 7th out of 11. Brice is still getting boards and had a season high of 19 points in October. There is still 5 games left of the season, I wonder if Brice and Budivelnyk could push higher up the table by the end of the year.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGBPG
ORLANDINA
(ITALY)
2019/2032.417.3511.180.82
CHORALE ROANNE
(FRANCE)
2019/2025.413.295.430.43
BUDIVELNYK
(UKRAINE)
2020/2121.010.796.290.79
Statistics are up to date as of Jan 22nd 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Marcus Paige – Partizan Belgrade (Serbia)

Marcus Paige is one of the most loved Tar Heels in recent years (he’s in my top 5 players, that’s a conversation for another time). I don’t want to talk about it, but…. he nearly had the greatest shot of all time, could have been bigger than ‘82, but then.. Jenkins.. still not over it. Since then Paige has spent some time in the G League, he had a two-way NBA contract before heading over to Serbia in 2018.

Marcus Paige for THRREEEEE.. who can remember that? Nothing has changed. Paige broke the team’s record for most three pointer’s in a game this season and Paritzan Belgrade have made it into the Euro Cup (second biggest tournament in European Basketball). He’s still got ice in his veins!

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGAPGSPG
PARTIZAN BELGRADE
(SERBIA)
2019/2022.39.931.880.79
PARTIZAN BELGRADE
(SERBIA)
2020/2125.09.241.960.72
Statistics are up to date as of Jan 22nd 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Joel Berry II – Besiktas (Turkey)

Joel had an ‘Outstanding’ Tar Heel career including a National Championship and MOP at Final Four. I still wonder if he stayed in the draft in 2017 would his draft stock have been higher after the championship.. either way, thank you Joel you brought us memories that will last a life-time.

Since leaving Chapel Hill, Berry spent time in the G League at South Bay Lakers and Greensboro Swarm before flying to Europe to play for Besiktas in Turkey (yes that team Deron Williams played for during the lock-out). Joel is the new starting PG since joining November 2020 and about to head into the FIBA Europe Cup. Joel Berry II is a champion and let’s see if he can win some more silverware in Europe.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGAPGSPG
BESIKTAS
(TURKEY)
2020/2124.08.252.750.5
Statistics are up to date as of Jan 22nd 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Luke Maye – Trento (Italy)

“MAYE FOR THE WIN… NORTH CAROLINA… INCREDIBLE SHOT!!”, yes that shot over Kentucky is a long-lasting memory and what a career Luke had at UNC including a National Championship. Remember the videos of him in class the next day too, what a player. Luke was picked up by Wisconsin Herd in the G League after graduating and then last year heading over to Europe to get some Italian sun.

Luke Maye was just announced the Euro Cup MVP of the Week, so it’s fair to say his first season abroad is going quite well. He just had a 25 point and 15 rebound game. I know we have Drake Maye stepping onto campus next year, but Luke is still making noise.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGDBL/DBL
TRENTO
(ITALY)
2020/2124.111.485.673
Statistics are up to date as of Jan 22nd 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Deon Thompson – Baloncesto Malaga (Spain)

A NCAA Champion, a Slovenian Champion, a German Champion, an Israeli Champion, a Serbian Champion, an ABA Champion, a Lithuanian Champion.. Deon Thompson is a CHAMPION!!

For the past 10 years Deon has played across Europe including in the EuroLeague (the top league in Europe and my opinion seconds best professional league after NBA). With the amount of championships Thompson has won, at 32 years old I do not see him slowing down.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGSPG
UNICAJA MALAGA
(SPAIN)
2019/2020.89.113.230.89
UNICAJA MALAGA
(SPAIN)
2020/2118.49.063.890.48
Statistics are up to date as of Jan 22nd 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Baden Jaxen – Odessa (Ukraine)

Baden Jaxen, or likely known to Tar Heel fans as Dexter Strickland, has had quite the career. He played on a stacked team with Barnes, Marshall, Henson, Zeller (got on a SLAM Magazine cover) and then went through heartbreak with his torn ACL in his Junior Year.

Baden went undrafted in 2013 and then took his talents abroad, he went back to the US for some time in the G League (D-League back then), but has been playing internationally ever since. After wanting to change his life after witnessing a bunch of events (reason behind the name change) and feeling more inspired, Baden now finds himself in the Ukrainian League and will go up against Brice Johnson soon.

TEAMSEASONPPGRPGAPG
VEF RIGA
(LATVIA)
2018/1910.42.81.9
BC SAMARA
(RUSSIA)
2019/2011.32.31.6
Statistics are up to date as of Jan 22nd 2021 (source: eurobasket.com)

Christian Keeling – Glasgow Rocks (United Kingdom)

Christian spent most of his college days at Charleston Southern, but became a Tar Heel when he transferred in his Senior SZN.

Now you can find Keeling in Scotland, playing in the British Basketball League for the Glasgow Rocks (same team Nate Britt played for). On his debut he had 26 points and is now averaging over 16 points a game in his first 5 games, CK has really taken to the U.K. and I personally hope to see him play this year if we can get to any games due to the pandemic.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGAPGRPG
GLASGOW ROCKS
(SCOTLAND)
2020/2131.616.82.23.0
Statistics are up to date as of Jan 22nd 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Jean-Pierre Tokoto – Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel)

AIR-PIERRE!!!! THE HUMAN HIGHLIGHT. JP Tokoto had some great years for the Tar Heels. Since leaving UNC early to go into the NBA Draft, JP has played professional basketball all over the world with most of that time in Israel.

JP now finds himself with Hapoel Tel Aviv (the same team Nate Robinson played for a few years ago). You can still see him leading in the stat columns with a 20-10 game at the end of year. The team is currently 2-5 but Tokoto is still performing as a professional basketball player and still ending up on the highlights.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGAPGRPGSPG
IRONI NES ZIONA
(ISRAEL)
2019/2031.414.214.146.292.21
HAPOEL TEL AVIV
(ISRAEL)
2020/2123.012.03.334.51.5
Statistics are up to date as of Jan 22nd 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Nate Britt – Panthers Schwennigen (Germany)

Nate Britt (NATIONAL CHAMPION) has enjoyed quite the career so far in professional basketball, playing in the United Kingdom, Argentina, Cyprus and now in Germany.

Britt is playing in the second tier of German basketball for the Wiha Panthers Schwennigen and has started the 2020-21 season strong. Nate is averaging over 15 points and over 5 assists a game, there’s no doubt that Nate has a long career ahead in professional basketball.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGAPGRPGSPG
OMONIA NICOSIA
(CYPRUS)
2019/2033.714.523.624.141.76
WIHA PANTHERS
(GERMANY)
2020/2130.115.235.463.771.77
Statistics are up to date as of Jan 22nd 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Justin Pierce – Kobrat (Finland)

Justin Pierce was another Senior transfer with Christian Keeling after spending most of his college days at William & Mary. Pierce averaged 5 points a game in the Carolina Blue, but my oh my has he taken to professional basketball.

Justin signed for Kobrat in the top Finnish league and was fourth on the leading scorers charts with a season high of 31 points. Sadly, the scoring has been put on hold due to the amount of games that have been postponed in Finland, lets hope Pierce can get back to shooting form when the games are back.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGAPG
KOBRAT
(FINLAND)
2020/2128.318.425.252.67
Statistics are up to date as of Jan 22nd 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Justin Watts – Donar Groningen (Netherlands)

Justin Watts (NATIONAL CHAMPION), Justin was a freshman when we won the 2009 championship and then played his full four years at Chapel Hill. Since graduating Justin has travelled A LOT and enjoyed playing professional basketball all over the world.

He was an All Star in Japan, a champion in Australia and now recently in 2021 has signed to play for Donar in the Dutch Basketball League. At 30 years old Watts is not slowing down and expecting to get more championships under his name.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGSPG
WILKI MORSKIE SZCZECIN
(POLAND)
2018/1923.89.933.141.29
PIENO ZVAIGZDES
(LITHUANIA)
2018/1922.98.83.60.9
DABROWA GORNICZA
(POLAND)
2019/2027.614.673.331.0
Statistics are up to date as of Jan 22nd 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Marcus Ginyard – Limoges CSP (France)

Marcus Ginyard (NATIONAL CHAMPION) a lockdown defender for the Tar Heels during his time with us, defensive players of the year… twice! Since graduating Ginyard has had a successful professional basketball career playing in countries like; Germany, Israel, Poland, Ukraine, Greece, Macedonia, Romania and now finding himself in France.

Marcus is currently playing in the top division in France and coming off the bench averaging 18 minutes a game with Limoges with a 4-4 record.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGAPG
CSP LIMOGES
(FRANCE)
2019/2026.79.863.051.05
CSP LIMOGES
(FRANCE)
2020/2119.86.552.271.18
Statistics are up to date as of Jan 22nd 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Ty Lawson – Kolossos Rodou (Greece)

NCAA Champion, Bob Cousy Award Winner and ACC Player of the Year, there’s no denying Ty’s time at UNC was legendary (I don’t use that term often), then he enjoyed a solid career in the NBA. Now coming to the end of this time on the court, but not wanting to slow down, he’s still balling but now internationally finding himself in the Greek Basket League.

Ty was dropped by his Chinese Basketball Associaition team due to social media posts, but now finds his next adventure in Greece (with Enes Kanter’s brother on his team) and said in a recent interview hoping his team will make the playoffs.

Honourable Mention: there was rumours Raymond Felton signed for a team in Czech Republic, but Felton listened to an offer but never officially signed and then due to the COVID-19 pandemic he stayed at home in Houston.

Honourable Mention: North Carolina Mr Basketball 2016, Will Graves, has been playing professionally in Europe and was last playing in Cypriot League, but currently does not have a team.

Hey Tar Heels, are any of your favourite players now overseas? Tweet me.

JP Tokoto vs Leaky Black

“HE HAS TOKOTO WITH HIM…. NORTH CAROLINA LEADS WITH THE REVERSE HAMMER SLAM!!!!”

If you watched the Tar Heels play from 2012 to 2015, you would have been accustomed to seeing an Air Pierre Highlight on Sports Center. Jean-Pierre Tokoto was recruited out of Wisconsin and played with the likes of Marcus Paige, Joel Berry and Justin Jackson before leaving Chapel Hill his junior season to go play professionally.

Tokoto was a fan favourite and a great team-mate, but his athleticism is obviously what he’ll be remembered for, the ability to make highlights out of thin air, trust me.. YouTube it. Although that wasn’t the only attribute JP could bring to the court, JP was a lockdown defender. Making the All ACC Defensive Team in Sophomore year and ranked top 4 in assists and steals (only player who was not a PG too), basically JP hustled!!

Fast forward a few years later and coming out of Concord, NC (home of Basketball) was a 6ft 7 wing named Rechon Black, better known as Leaky Black. Leaky started off in a packed UNC team with Coby White, Cam Johnson and Nassir Little, so didn’t see as much minutes. Then in his Sophomore and now Junior Season we’re seeing Leaky getting some bigger minutes and he’s stepping up (see ND game on Jan 2, 2021).

Leaky just like JP led the team in steals in his sophomore season, also being second in the assists column too. Leaky isn’t a big scorer, but there is so much more of what he does on the floor that makes him invaluable to the Tar Heels. JP and Leaky are both not big scorers and you’re not going to rely on them from behind the arc, but heck you know they’re going to get on that floor if you need them too.

Jean-Pierre Tokoto is currently playing in the Israeli Premier League for Hapoel Tel Aviv, after terms in the NBA G League, Australia National Basketball League and in Spain. JP will always be a Tar Heel favourite.

With Leaky getting more minutes in his junior season and likely his Senior Season next year too, there’s no denying the Leaky has a future in professional basketball as well.

UNC CAREERJP TOKOTOLEAKY BLACK
PPG6.755.26
APG2.742.17
RPG4.384.26
SPG1.81.07
AST/TO1.631.65
STL/TO0.710.81

Tar Heels, what do you think about this comparison?

Photos: ballislife.com and keepingitheel.com