The Top Ten Players at North Carolina under Dean Smith

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Dean Smith, Michael Jordan (AP Photo)

North Carolina announced that legendary head coach Dean Smith passed away on Saturday night, succumbing to a long battle with an illness that had kept him in poor health for years.

It may be fair to say that no one in the history of basketball has spanned the generations quite like Coach Smith. He coached at Kansas under a man, Phog Allen, who played for the inventor of the game, James Naismith. While at North Carolina, he helped turn Michael Jordan into the greatest player the game has ever seen. When Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he said, “There’s no way you guys would have got a chance to see Michael Jordan play without Dean Smith.”

That’s quite an endorsement.

RELATED: Dean Smith passes away at 83Reaction to Dean Smith’s passing

In total, Smith recruited 26 all-americans to North Carolina and sent 25 players to the first round of the NBA Draft. Here are the ten best to ever play for him:

1. Michael Jordan: It’s impossible to put together a list of greatest players without having Jordan top that list. Let’s just put it like this: He hit the national-title winning jumper as a freshman, was the National Player of the Year as a junior and finished his professional career as nothing more than the greatest basketball player of all-time. That’s a decent career, isn’t it?

2. Phil Ford: Ford finished his North Carolina career, one that saw him named a three-time all-american, as the school’s all-time leading scorer and the only player in ACC history to score 2,000 points and dish out 600 assists.

3. Sam Perkins: “Big Smooth” was a member of the team that won the 1982 National Title. He was a sophomore and a second-team all-american that season. Perkins would go on to be named a first-team all-american his last two seasons in college. He scored more than 2,000 points in college.

4. James Worthy: Worthy was the co-National Player of the Year in 1982 (Ralph Sampson) as the Tar Heels won the national title. That 1982 team also included Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins, which should give you an idea of just how important he was.

5. Antawn Jamison: Jamison was among the last recruits that Smith brought into the North Carolina program. He was the National Player of the Year in 1998, the year after Smith had retired, averaging 22.2 points and 10.5 boards. It was North Carolina’s second straight Final Four.

6. Mike O’Koren: O’Koren was a three-time first-team all-american under Smith, leaving the program in 1980 as the only player to score 1,500 points, grab 800 rebounds and dish out 300 assists.

7. Charlie Scott: Scott may not have been the best player to ever come through North Carolina, but he was arguably the most important. Scott was the first African-American scholarship athlete at North Carolina, enrolling in the school in the late-1960s.

8. Billy Cunningham: The Kangaroo Kid finished his three-year UNC career with averages of 24.8 points and 15.4 rebounds.

9. Vince Carter: Before he became ‘Air Canada’, Carter entered North Carolina in the same recruiting class as Jamison. He was a second team all-american in 1998.

10. Jerry Stackhouse: Stack was a first-team all-american and won a National Player of the Year award as a sophomore at UNC. He also left the program with one of college basketball’s most memorable highlights:

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.