the flow ofdevelopment that's helped the
men's program maintain its unparalleled
excellence across the decades.
Take last spring. Juniors Antawn Jamison,
the consensus national player of the year,
and classmate Vince Carter announced
they were leaving early, a double hit no
ACC program except Carolina has ever
endured. "If! stayed, it would be for
selfish reasons, to break records and things
like that," Jamison explained. "It would
have been nice to get the ultimate award,
the national championship, but this was
the best decision for me."
Surely it's difficult for coaches, com-
petitors all, to let go ofsuch exceptional
players and to actually encourage them to
leave when circumstances warrant. Yet
that's been the history of the Tar Heel
"you think about it a little bit, you
don't dwell on it," head coach Bill
Guthridge said of any regrets. "We've
Novemberi Dece Inber 1998
always said, it's what's best for the team
during the season, and during the off-
season it's what's best for the individual."
Guthridge, predecessor Dean Smith
and those who've been around the pro-
gram and gone elsewhere, including
South Carolina coach Eddie Fogler ' 70,
say it's a simple matter. If a young man is
likely to be chosen among the top lOin
the upcoming NBA draft, it's a smart
business decision to go pro.
"What would be the difference ifyour
child was working for IBM and left after
her junior year, and they promised to
pay to complete her education?" Fogler
asked. Then, chuckling, he answered his
own question. "What's the difference?
The alumni want to win basketball games."
Since 1982, eight Tar Heels have left
early, twice as many as any other ACC pro-
gram. The rest ofthe ACC combined had
only 13 early departures during that span.
"You take away the guys who weren't
there their senior years, or the guys who
were hurt, we might have had a better
run," Smith mused in 1996. "You got
four years in the old days, or even three
years: sophomore, junior, senior."
Since 1995, five Heels-Jeff Mcinnis
' 97, Jerry Stackhouse ' 97, Rasheed Wallace
' 97, Carter and Jamison- exited with
eligibility remaining. Last spring was the
second in four years in which a pair left
UNC early. Each time both were among
the top five selections in the subsequent
National Basketball Association draft.
In fact, thanks to Smith's pre-draft con-
sultations with basketball acquaintances,
Carolina players who do go pro get
superior advice. Eight of the nine who
left early were taken high in the NBA's
first round- McAdoo in 1972 (second),
James Worthy ' 85 in 1982 (first), Michael
Jordan ' 86 in 1984 (third), JR. Reid ' 90
in 1989 (fifth), Stackhouse (third) and
Wallace (fourth) in 1995, and Jamison