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:

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.