UNC History: Blast From The Past – The Top 20 UNC Basketball Teams of All-Time (8 through 5)


8) UNC 1977 – This Tar Heel squad was led by Phil Ford, Mike O’Koren, John Kuester, Dudley Bradley, Walter Davis, Tommy LaGarde, and Rich Yonakor.  Dudley Bradley was the defensive specialist on this team. His nickname was the “Secretary of Defense.” Tommy LaGarde was nominated to the second team all-ACC team, as well as being a second team all-American. He was also a two-time academic all-American.

Walter Davis, also known as “Sweet D,” was first team all-ACC, a member of the all-East Regional team, and a member of the all-Final Four team. Walter Davis is the uncle to UNC’s current assistant coach and former UNC basketball player, Hubert Davis. Phil Ford was a first-team all-American in 1977. He was the perfect guard for running Dean Smith’s infamous “Four Corner” offense. In 1978, Ford was the ACC Player of the Year and the John R. Wooden Award Winner. John Kuester was the Most Valuable Player of the 1977 ACC Tournament.

North Carolina were the regular season ACC Champions and Conference Tournament Champions in 1977. Carolina lost two close games to Wake Forest during this season. However, the Tar Heels managed to beat Wake Forest once.  The 1977 Final Four included UNLV, UNC-Charlotte, UNC, and Marquette. North Carolina lost to Marquette in the 1977 NCAA national championship, 67-59. Marquette’s Butch Lee was the 1977 Most Outstanding Player. This was one of the biggest heartbreaks in UNC basketball history. This would have been Dean Smith’s first national championship. Dean Smith was the head coach of the United States Olympic Basketball team in 1976. The 1970’s were very productive for Dean Smith. North Carolina finished the season with a 28-5 record.

7) UNC 1968 – This roster was loaded with talent. Notable players included Bill Bunting, Charles Scott, Dick Grubar, Eddie Fogler, Rusty Clark, and Larry Miller. Larry Miller averaged 22.4 points per game this season. At 6’4”, he was one of the shortest front court players. Larry Miller set a school record by scoring in double figures in 64 consecutive games. This mark still stands today. In addition, Larry Miller was a two-time ACC Player of the Year in 1967 and 1968. Carolina had the perfect 1-2 punch with Miller and Scott. While Miller was the heart and soul of the team, Scott was the player who came through in the clutch repeatedly. Charles Scott, UNC’s first Black scholarship athlete, averaged 27.1 points and 8.6 rebounds a game this season. Scott was a second team all-American in 1968. North Carolina was the regular season champs and the ACC Tournament champs in 1968. This team was the first North Carolina squad that Dean Smith coached in the national championship. UNC lost to UCLA in the title game, 78-55. UNC finished the season with a 28-4 record.

6) UNC 1924 – The 1924 roster consisted of nine players, Bill Dodderer, Billy Devin, Cartwright Carmichael, Donald Koonce, Henry Lineberger, Jack Cobb, Jimmy Poole, Monk McDonald, and Sam McDonald. Jack Cobb was the leader of this team. He was nominated as the national player of the year by the Helms Foundation. In addition, he is one of eight players who have had their jersey retired. This team is a special team in UNC basketball history. For starters (pun intended), they were the second Tar Heels’ men’s basketball team to win the ACC Tournament. In addition, this team was the first UNC basketball team to win a national championship. Some people do not recognize the 1924 Tar Heels as national champions. During this season, the NCAA Tournament (also known as “March Madness”) did not exist. What existed during this time was the Helms Championship. This accolade was awarded to the basketball team with the best record and #1 ranking at the end of the season. The 1924 North Carolina team finished their season with a perfect 26-0 record. Keep in mind that North Carolina currently has 6 national championships (1924, 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, and 2009), not 5. In addition, note that some of the buildings and dormitories on UNC’s campus have the last names of basketball players on the 1924 roster (e.g., UNC Lineberger Cancer Center, Cobb Dormitory, Carmichael Auditorium).

5) UNC 1993 – The roster included Derrick Phelps, Eric Montross, George Lynch, Donald “The Show” Williams, Kevin Salvadori, Brian Reese, Henrik Rodl, Scott Cherry, Pat Sullivan, Matt Wenstrom, and Dante’ Calabria. Serge Zwikker was a red-shirt freshman on this team. Although the Tar Heels were the 1993 regular season champions, they were not the 1993 ACC Tournament. Despite missing out on this opportunity, Carolina went to the Final Four where Dean Smith faced his former assistant coach, Roy Williams. In 1991, Kansas beat Carolina in order to advance to the national championship. However, in 1993, Carolina revenged their loss to Kansas in 1993. Fueled by Donald Williams 25 points, North Carolina faced Michigan Wolverines in the championship. Michigan was led by “The Fab Five,” which consisted of Jalen Rose (ABC/ESPN basketball analyst), Chris Webber (ABC/ESPN basketball analyst), Juwan Howard (a member of the 2012 NBA Champion, Miami Heat), Ray Jackson, and Jimmy King. Similar to the national semifinal game, Carolina was led by Donald Willaims’ 25 points. In essence, Donald put on “a show” during the 1993 Final Four. He won the award as the Most Outstanding Player. North Carolina beat Michigan 77-71. Dean Smith won his second national championship. Several of the players on the 1993 roster are currently basketball coaches at the collegiate and professional levels. Derrick Phelps and Brian Reese are assistant coaches at Monmouth University. George Lynch is a part of SMU’s basketball staff as administrative assistant and graduate manager. Scott Cherry is the head coach of High Point University. Pat Sullivan has been an assistant coach in the NBA for many years. He was an assistant coach on the 2004 Detroit Pistons team that won an NBA title. Eric Montross is the color commentator for all of North Carolina’s basketball broadcasts.