Tar Heels in G-League – Kenny Williams Season High

Kenny Williams is in his second season for the Austin Spurs of the NBA G-League and he was on fire tonight. The Austin Spurs went up against the Long Island Nets and Kenny led the team in scoring dropping 20 points, with 6 from 10 from behind the arc… he’s still got it Tar Heels!

Kenny’s performance helped with the Spurs 102-88 win, watch his highlights from the game:

Originally tweeted by NBA G League (@nbagleague) on March 2, 2021.

Austin Spurs are currently fourth in the overall standings with two games left of the regular season; Greensboro Swarm and Team Ignite.

Most of Kenny’s 20 points came from the catch-and-shoot from downtown which led to his season high. Kenny dropped 31 last year against the Northern Arizona Suns, so we know he can light it up! Just like the old days.

Keep up to date with all the former Tar Heels playing professional basketball including the latest updates on Tar Heels in Europe and Tar Heels in Asia.

Follow on Twitter at @britishtarheel and make sure to subscribe to Ceiling is the Roof for all your updates.

5th Tar Heel to win ACC Freshman of the Week

On Saturday night we had the ‘Walker Kessler Game’ with the Tar Heels comeback win against Florida State University. Tar Heels came out on top over the Seminoles, who led by 16 points in the first half, but up steps Walker Kessler. Kessler had 20 points with 8 rebounds, he also recorded his most minutes. WALKER WAS ON FIRE!

Today he was awarded Co-Freshmen of the Week alongside Jay’Lyn Withers from Louisville. That now makes a record breaking five different Tar Heels to win the award this season: Day’Ron Sharpe (Jan 4th), RJ Davis (Jan 18th), Caleb Love (Jan 25th & Feb 8th) and Kerwin Walton (Feb 22nd). This achievement is a UNC and ACC record, breaking the record held by four different players to win the award at Wake Forest in 1978-79.

http://www.twitter.com/UNC_Basketball

Last week, Kessler averaged 15 PPG and 6 RPG against Marquette and Florida State. His game against Marquette tied his season-high of 10 points from 5-6 shooting. On Saturday, Walker was feelin’ it with 20 points from a whopping 9-10 shooting. Kessler also racked up 8 rebounds, 4 blocks and an entire Tar Heel Nation chanting his name. The game against the FSU was the first game that UNC had been allowed fans into the Dean Smith Center and boy did they shout his name!

Walker came to Chapel Hill as a five star recruit out of Newman, Georgia. Kessler was named High School Gatorade Player of the Year and Mr Basketball for the state of Georgia. He helped his High School to their first basketball state title in the school’s 120 year history. We knew Walker was going to be good… but did we understand how good?

Kessler has been averaging 11.8 PPG and 5.6 RPG over the last 5 games while averaging only 13 minutes a game. Just over one month ago I wrote a piece on the UNC Bigs and Kessler was low down on the rotation, now it looks like he is going to see more playing time. Will we see Walker get more minutes leading up to cementing our spot in the NCAA Tournament?

Originally tweeted by Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) on February 28, 2021.
ACC FRESHMEN OF WEEKMPGPPGRPGAPG
DAY’RON SHARPE19.69.967.961.35
RJ DAVIS22.48.092.262.09
CALEB LOVE27.910.092.393.65
KERWIN WALTON20.08.131.481.87
WALKER KESSLER7.84.132.780.26
2020/21 Statistics for the ACC Freshmen of the Week (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Carolina Basketball started the 2020/21 season with the second best recruiting class in the country according to 247 Sports. What is going to be the Future of UNC? How many of these award winning freshmen will we see in the NBA?

There have been many discussions about Walker dominating in the NBA one day, will he declare early? Or will we continue to see him dominate in Chapel Hill?

Personally, I feel we are going to see Walker for many years to come at UNC and he’s just going to get stronger, smarter and a force to be reckoned with in College Basketball.

Follow and tweet me on Twitter at @georgewharmer.

Subscribe to keep updated from Ceiling is the Roof.

Top 5 Point Guards of Roy Williams Head Coach Era

Coach Roy Williams is in his 18th season as the Head Coach of the Tar Heels and just recorded his 900th career win (the fastest coach to 900 wins). During that time Coach Williams has been spoilt with guards, and if you know North Carolina Basketball, it is well known as the Point Guard University.

Acknowledging Coach Williams milestone record, I would like to highlight some of the best guards to have worn Carolina Blue since 2003. I’ll admit it was hard to decide the order of the Top 5, so if you think someone should be higher or lower on the list, or even someone that should have made the list, tweet me at @britishtarheel and I want to hear what you have to say!



Honourable Mentions:

There have been some amazing point guards who have played in Chapel Hill and some who have astounded everyone in their Freshmen Seasons. Cole Anthony and Coby White are two of those guards.

Coby came in the 2018/19 season out of Goldsboro, NC and amazed everyone during his one and only season at UNC. Coby scoring a high of 34 points against Syracuse was one of many of his highlight games. Cole Anthony was the star of a poor 2019/20 season, although spending a lot of his time the sidelines due to injury. Cole had the reputation of not giving up and ended the season averaging 18.5 points a game and made the All-ACC Freshmen Team during his one season. Cole and Coby both tied the most 3 point field goals in a game for UNC with 7 during their time in Chapel Hill.

5. Raymond Felton (2002-2005)

Raymond Felton was one of the fastest point guards to grace the floors at UNC. Felton’s pace fitted perfectly into Roy Williams Carolina offence and was his first starting point guard when Coach Williams came back in 2003.

Felton has the fourth most assists for University of North Carolina with 698 throughout his three seasons. He also is the leader of steals per game over a UNC career with 1.9 SPG. Obviously the highlight of his time at UNC was teaming up with Sean May and Marvin Williams in 2005, winning the National Championship and this being Coach Williams first title at UNC. Felton was awarded the Bob Cousy Award that same season.

Raymond went on to declare for the NBA Draft in 2005 foregoing his final season at UNC. He went on to play over 1,000 NBA games over his career with Charlotte Bobcats, New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trailblazers, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder.

SEASONMPGPPGAPGSPG
2002-0335.412.866.711.6
2003-0434.611.537.072.13
2004-0531.712.896.922.0
Raymond Felton’s UNC Basketball Career Statistics

4. Kendall Marshall (2010-2012)

I will admit this was very hard to not put Kendall higher than this, but that is because he is my all-time favourite Tar Heel (if he stayed an extra year or didn’t break his wrist, I’m still not over it!). Kendall Marshall lit up College Basketball during his two seasons with his pass first style that broke record after record.

Marshall recorded 351 assists in his Sophomore Season with an average of 9.8 APG (both records for a UNC player in a season). His 311 assists in the ACC is also an ACC record. Marshall played with the likes of Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson and many believe if the injury didn’t happen in the game against Creighton, then that team could have gone all the way.. oh what if!! The PassFir5t movement was loud in 2012 and trending all over Twitter with the number 5 wrote on our wrists. Who remembers?

Kendall Marshall was another Tar Heel (and last Tar Heel) to receive the Bob Cousy Award in his final season before declaring for the NBA Draft. The game away at Dook with 20 and 10 has to be one of his greatest UNC moments, you can read more about that game by clicking here.

Kendall’s NBA career took him to Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and more teams in the NBA G-League. Marshall retired at 25 years old and is currently the Assistant Director of Operations for UNC Basketball after being hired by Coach Williams.

SEASONMPGPPGAPGSPG
2010-1124.66.226.221.08
2011-1233.08.149.751.19
Kendall Marshall’s UNC Basketball Career Statistics

3. Joel Berry II (2014-2018)

Joel Berry II was the Most Outstanding Player in the National Championship 2017 and his career at UNC was no different. Joel played for four years under Coach Williams at Chapel Hill and finding himself in the Top 10 for minutes and games played for UNC. Berry was also a great scorer from distance and ranks second in career three point field goals made with 266.

Joel was the leader of the team in 2017 that cut down the nets after their game against Gonzaga and his award of MOP was totally deserved. The 2017 Championship was Coach Williams third title at UNC. You also have to acknowledge that Joel was also a part of the team that reached back-to-back National Championship Games in 2016 and 2017.

I’ve been following UNC since Summer 2010, so Joel helped bring the first national title that I saw for Carolina and I will forever be thankful for that life long memory of screaming for joy at 4am. Joel is now playing professional basketball overseas in Turkey after some time in the NBA G-League. Joel has a big career ahead of him in professional basketball.

SEASONMPGPPGAPGSPG
2014-1513.24.171.530.4
2015-1630.712.783.751.45
2016-1730.414.683.631.39
2017-1833.117.143.221.17
Joel Berry II’s UNC Basketball Career Statistics

2. Marcus Paige (2012-2016)

Marcus Paige came to University of North Carolina with the probable expectation to be the back up Point Guard to Kendall Marshall. Then Kendall declared for the NBA Draft early and Paige had to step up.. boy did he step up!

Paige was known for his second half performances with ‘Second Half Paige’ trending all over Twitter regularly when Paige would heat up from distance. Paige broke the UNC record for three point field goals made with 299. Marcus wasn’t surrounded by All-Stars during his time at UNC to the same levels of the 2005 and 2009 teams, so he was the go to option and he didn’t disappoint (plus he always loved it against NC State). He is one the greatest leaders to wear the Carolina Blue over recent years and a big reason to why he is so high up on my list.

Marcus made the greatest ever ‘What If’ shot with his game-tying adjusting in mid air three pointer against Villanova in 2016’s National Championship Game.. sadly there was a few more seconds left in the game. Paige’s four years at Chapel Hill were personally some of my favourite years as a UNC fan and that is always going to help with my opinion to have Marcus as one of the best Point Guards of the Roy Williams era.

SEASONMPGPPGAPGSPG
2012-1329.18.174.61.34
2013-1435.517.534.211.5
2014-1533.214.054.471.71
2015-1631.612.593.761.15
Marcus Paige’s UNC Basketball Career Statistics

1. Ty Lawson (2006-2009)

ACC Player of the Year, Bob Cousy Award winner and NCAA Champion. There’s no denying that Ty Lawson’s three years in Chapel Hill were legendary. Lawson winning ACC’s highest individual award was the first time a Point Guard won the award since Phil Ford in 1978.

Ty broke the record for steals in a Championship Game with 8 steals with 22 points to go along with it. Lawson teaming up with Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green and Wayne Ellington brought Coach Roy Williams his second National Championship. Lawson is probably the most talented Point Guard to run the floor for Coach Williams.

Ty then went on to a very strong NBA Career with a lot of his time spent at the Denver Nuggets before playing in Houston, Indiana, Sacramento and Washington.

I’m assuming a lot would consider Ty Lawson as the best Point Guard since 2003 for the Tar Heels, and not many can dispute it.

SEASONMPGPPGAPGSPG
2006-0725.710.215.611.53
2007-0825.312.695.161.59
2008-0929.916.866.572.17
Ty Lawson’s UNC Basketball Career Statistics

I hope you enjoyed reading this countdown of the best point guards over the past 18 seasons during the Coach Roy Williams era at the Point Guard University.

Now I’m sure you have your own personal opinion on who should be on this list and that is why I love these type of discussions. Who would be in your Top 5 Point Guards since 2003? Follow and tweet me at @britishtarheel and I would love to hear your Top 5’s.

Tar Heels in Europe – February Update

Here’s a monthly update on the Tar Heels playing professional basketball in Europe. You can check out what the Tar Heels in Europe were up to previously in January’s update.

I recently spoke to Joel James (UNC 2012-2016) who confirmed with me that he is now playing overseas in Turkey after his time playing professionally in Mexico, so he will be included in this update.

I’ve also talked with Justin Pierce (UNC 2019-2020) who shared footage with me during his time in Finland… keep scrolling to check this out… wow!

Here are the Tar Heels who have taken their talents to Europe.



Luke Maye – Dolomoti Energia Trento (Italy)

Who remembers chanting “MVP! MVP!” to Luke Maye during his time at UNC? Luke, walking into his 8am class the next morning after that shot against Kentucky, great memories. Since the days of the big man on campus, Luke has spent some time in the NBA G-League at the Wisconsin Herd, but has now travelled over the Atlantic and is playing in Italy where he is still receiving those chants of “MVP!”

Maye is now at Trento which is a city in Northern Italy and has been playing in the Italian Lega Basket Serie A as well in the Euro Cup (where he played against a familiar face, you’ll see who further down). Maye received the award of ‘MVP of the week’ in January with a performance of 25 points and 15 rebounds, it was a record for rebounds by a player in the Euro Cup for Trento.

Recently, the Euro Cup tweeted that Luke is the best player in Group F. Luke’s scoring has increased each month since being overseas and I think we are going to see Luke’s game keep improving in his rookie season in Europe.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGDBL/DBL
TRENTO (ITALY)2020/2125.512.546.425
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 22nd (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Brice Johnson – Budivelnyk (Ukraine)

Brice Johnson has experienced quite a lot of professional basketball in his relatively short career, from the NBA to G-League and then to 4 teams overseas… but everywhere Johnson has been, he has performed!

Brice is now in Ukraine after some time in Puerto Rico, Italy and then France. Currently at Budivelynk of the Ukrainian Super League. Brice’s team are currently on a 5 game win streak with a record of 11-12.

Brice is the leader in blocks per game for his team and second in rebounds per game. Johnson is still very dominant on both ends and hope to see his season finish strong.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGBPG
ORLANDINA (ITALY)2019/2032.417.3511.180.82
CHORALE ROANNE (FRANCE)2019/2025.413.295.430.43
BUDIVELYNK (UKRAINE)2020/2121.110.957.430.95
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 22nd (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Joel Berry II – Besiktas (Turkey)

Joel Berry II’s career at UNC will live forever in our memories and since graduating from Chapel Hill he has spent some seasons in the G-League before taking himself to Europe this year for his first time playing professionally overseas.

Joel plays for Besiktas in the top division in Turkey as well as playing some games in the Europe Cup this year. Joel is joined by former NC State player Markell Johnson (I wonder if they’re watching the UNC/State games together). Since my first update on Joel’s time overseas, his numbers have all been improving (PPG, APG, SPG) and Besiktas are 6th out of 15 in the T-BSL. The top team in Turkey is Anadolu Efes Istanbul who are 21-0 and led by Shane Larkin (who remembers him from Miami?).

Berry has taken well to his time in European Basketball and he’s just getting better and better.

Finally, congratulations to Joel and his wife Kelsey who announced on 22nd February that they are expecting their first child.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGAPGSPG
BESIKTAS (TURKEY)2020/2125.010.583.251.33
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 22nd (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Marcus Paige – Partizan Belgrade (Serbia)

One of the most beloved Tar Heels in recent years is now playing professionally in Serbia. Paige is a major part in the rotation for Partizan Belgrade averaging 25 mpg and now in his third season in Serbia. He is joined in Belgrade with fellow ACC competitor Cody Miller-McIntyre who spent four years at Wake Forest additionally Josh Perkins who played at Gonzaga for four years (I wonder if Marcus ever mentions 2017?)

Marcus already broke the record for three pointers in a game this season for Partizan and has been playing in the Euro Cup where he will be playing against a familiar face in the same group, Luke Maye. Paige’s Partizan beat Maye’s Trento in January 71-43, their next battle is on March 3rd.

Marcus scored his career joint highest three pointers made against UNICS Kazan with 8. He hit 8 three pointers in two G-League games and the most three pointers Marcus made at UNC was 7 (against NC State, loved that game!). We know how good it is to see Marcus catch on fire with his scoring, so hoping to see more of those performances this season.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGAPGSPG
PARTIZAN BELGRADE (SERBIA)2018/1924.210.53.721.1
PARTIZAN BELGRADE (SERBIA)2019/2022.39.931.880.79
PARTIZAN BELGRADE (SERBIA)2020/2126.29.682.10.89
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 22nd (source: basketball.realgm.com)
Marcus Paige interview at 3:53

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 time 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 (by the way, Joel James didn’t play organised basketball till his Sophomore Year in HS). There are a few more games left in the division and I’m hoping to see Joel finish strong.

I spoke with Joel recently, talking about his best numbers since High School and he said:

“Yeah I’ve gotten better man. Just continued to work hard every time I step on the court in practice and in the off season and it’s starting to pay off for me.”

Joel James
Originally tweeted by güncel TBL (@guncelTBL) on January 22, 2021.
TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGDBL/DBL
RAYOS DE HERMOSILLO (MEXICO)2018/1927.312.119.5722
CAPITANES CIUDAD DE MEXICO (MEXICO)2019/2022.210.916.146
DUZCE BELEDIYE (TURKEY)2020/2127.613.4111.6513
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 22nd (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Justin Pierce – Kobrat (Finland)

Justin Pierce was one of our graduate transfers from William & Mary in 2019/20 averaging 5 points per game in Chapel Hill. Although, you would have seen in my last update that Pierce’s numbers have sky rocketed since playing professional basketball in Finland for Kobrat.

Justin really set the league on fire since playing for Kobrat with a season high of 31 points. Sadly, Justin had an injury in January and I was able to speak to Justin to check in:

“I’ve been out since suffering from a significant concussion 4 minutes into our game on January 20th. I’m feeling much better and should be back by the end of the month.”

Justin Pierce

By the way, can we just highlight Justin finished the dunk!!!!

With a few games left in the Finnish Korisliiga, I’m sure Justin will pick up where he left off with some great games.

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

Christian Keeling – Glasgow Rocks (United Kingdom)

Another of our graduate transfers in 2019/20, but from Charleston Southern, Christian Keeling averaged 6.24 points per game for the Tar Heels. Since then, Christian has been in Europe to play in the BBL for the Glasgow Rocks.

Glasgow have been struggling in the league this year, but have been performing well in the cup competitions. The Rocks are currently in the Quarter Finals of BBL Trophy with Keeling’s 19 points and 10 rebounds that led the game.

Christian is currently the team’s top scorer for the Glasgow Rocks with 16.4 points per game and in the Top 10 for points per game and minutes per game in the BBL.

Originally tweeted by Jamie Thomas 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 (@J_T_93) on February 15, 2021.
TEAMSEASONMPGPPGAPGRPG
GLASGOW ROCKS (SCOTLAND)2020/2133.016.42.64.2
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 22nd (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Jean Pierre-Tokoto – Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel)

Air-Pierre Tokoto! If you remember watching JP, you will remember the highlights he would give us on a weekly basis. Tokoto has played professional basketball all over the world since leaving Chapel Hill early.

JP is now playing in Tel Aviv for Hapoel Tel Aviv who are currently 3-8 in the Israeli BSL. I also wrote a piece last month with the comparisons of Leaky Black and JP Tokoto, you can read that here.

Tokoto has spent a lot of his career in Israel with most of his career high numbers coming when playing over there.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGAPGRPGSPG
IRONI NES ZIONA (ISRAEL)2019/2031.414.214.146.292.21
HAPOEL TEL AVIV (ISRAEL)2020/2125.110.623.54.51.38
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 22nd (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Deon Thompson – Unicaja Malaga (Spain)

Deon Thompson is a part of that 2009 National Championship Winning Team and holds the record for the most appearances as a Tar Heel. Since then he has played at the top level of professional basketball all over the world, maintaining that winning tradition.

Deon is currently playing for Malaga in the Liga ACB, the top division in Spain, against the likes of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. Deon’s next game is against Movistar Estudiantes, who have just recently signed former NBA veteran JJ Barea. Thompson is one of our most experienced Tar Heels in Europe, playing over a decade overseas, his career does not seem to be slowing down.

Deon was recently representing the Ivory Coast in the qualifying matches for the AfroBasket 2022 and Ivory Coast are 6-0.

Deon is a great ambassador for Tar Heels all over the world and always supporting his fellow Tar Heels overseas.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGSPG
UNICAJA MALAGA (SPAIN)2019/2020.89.113.230.89
UNICAJA MALAGA (SPAIN)2020/2118.68.353.430.54
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 22nd (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Nate Britt – Panthers Schwennigen (Germany)

Nate Britt was a part of the 2017 National Championship team and since graduating from Chapel Hill, has travelled around the world playing the game he loves. 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.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGAPGRPGSPG
GLASGOW ROCKS
(UNITED KINGDOM)
2017/1828.511.723.563.681.8
OMONIA NICOSIA (CYPRUS)2019/2033.714.523.624.141.76
WIHA PANTHERS (GERMANY)2020/2130.014.785.614.172.17
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 22nd (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Justin Watts – Donar Gronigen (Netherlands)

Justin Watts spent four years at Chapel Hill including a championship season in 2009 and since graduating in 2012, Justin has played all over the world… like seriously; Australia, Mexico, Japan, Uruguay, Netherlands, Poland, Qatar, Lithuania, Switzerland and Philippines.

Justin is now back in Netherlands, where he has played before in 2016 after signing for Donar Gronigen in 2021. The team is currently 7-1 and 3rd in the top tier in Dutch Basketball. It’s coming up to ten years since Justin left Chapel Hill, but I for one don’t see him slowing down.

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
DONAR GRONIGEN (NETHERLANDS)2020/2116.56.432.860.71
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 22nd (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Marcus Ginyard – CSP Limoges (France)

Marcus Ginyard one of the greatest defenders in Carolina History (defensive player of the year, twice!) has had quite the journeyed career in professional basketball that has gone the duration of over a decade. Ginyard’s career has seen him play all over Europe and now playing in the top division in France.

Marcus is playing for CSP Limoges in the French Jeep Elite league. They are 9th with a 5-5 record. Marcus is 33 years old and still playing at one of the top divisions in Europe, MG still has a lot more to give.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGAPG
CSP LIMOGES (FRANCE)2019/2026.79.863.051.05
CSP LIMOGES (FRANCE)2020/2120.17.572.211.07
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 22nd (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Honourable Mention: Baden Jaxen

Baden Jaxen, formerly known as Dexter Strickland, has been playing basketball professionally overseas since graduating from Chapel Hill. For me it seems like yesterday seeing Baden dunk on Dookies and being on the front cover of SLAM Magazine. Baden was the top scorer in the Cypriot League in 2017. Baden is supposed to be signed to BC Odessa in Ukraine, but has yet to play a game this season and I recently saw footage of him training in Miami.

Honourable Mention: Ty Lawson

Ty Lawson needs no introduction. An amazing career in the NBA, with some time in China, which has now led him to Europe in Greece. According to reports Lawson signed with Kolossos Rodou BC (currently being led by star player Kerem Kanter, Enes Kanter’s brother) in January 2021, but has yet to play a game for the Greek side.

I hope you enjoyed reading this update on the ‘Tar Heels in Europe’. If you enjoyed this, you should check out the update on the ‘Tar Heels in Asia‘. I will be writing a post soon about the upcoming game between Marcus Paige and Luke Maye.

Hey Tar Heels, hit the follow button on Twitter!

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