Rank ‘em: UNC’s Best Rebounders Ever


Over the years UNC has had some of the top rebounds in college basketball history. With that being said, I’m going to rank the cream of the crop when  it comes to cleaning up the backboards as a Tar Heel.

Let’s start with #5, Sean May…

5. Sean May

The guy who helped bring Carolina basketball back, will never be forgotten mainly because of his 10-11 from the field and 26-point performance in the 2005 National title game. We also must remember that May pulled down 10 rebounds on that magical Monday night in St.Louis. Matter of fact, Sean May pulled down a lot of rebounds during his run in Carolina Blue. Although his freshman season ended prematurely because of an injury, the wide bodied forward showed flashes of being a glass eater as he gobbled up 8.1 boards per game. That would be his career low.

As a super soph, May just got better he increased his production across the board including 9.8 boards a game. As a junior, Sean was a flat-out beast. He was the muscle for the eventual national champs and once a again posted a career high in rebounds. He averaged 10.7 boards per game as a junior (10.0 for his career) and on a Sunday afternoon to close out the regular season he bullied his way to a Smith Center record 24 rebounds and a UNC victory against the hated Duke Blue Devils. Enough Said!

4. Sam Perkins

Before Tyler Hansbrough grabbed the top spot, Big Sam was UNC’s top all-time rebounder. Many of the fans I’ve talked to don’t remember the big smooth left hander as dominant rebounder mainly because of the style of game he played in the NBA. But during his four years in Chapel Hill, Sam was just that. In the era of college basketball where most teams had at least a decent big man, Perkins could not only score with the best of them but he more than held his own on the glass. He averaged 8.6 rebounds per game for his career as a Tar Heel and his production on the glass stayed the same or increased every season at Carolina.

The three-time All American did the dirty work for the late great Dean Smith’s first National Championship team in 1982 and the 7.8 boards per game he pulled down that season was tied for his “worst “season as a Heel. Perkins may not be as celebrated as a couple of his teammates from the ’82 squad are but his importance will is never forgotten and neither will the work he did on the backboards.

3. Antawn Jamison

Early in his freshman season it was very clear that Antawn Jamison would be an all-time Carolina great. He had the quickest release around the basket I ever saw and even though he wasn’t the biggest guy weight wise, Antwan could attack the offensive and defensive glass better the most. His ability to dominate the backboards basically from the time he stepped on campus is still one of the most amazing things I ever saw.

In fact, Jamison still hold the records for most rebounds by a UNC freshman (20). Antwan averaged 9.9 boards a contest while at Carolina (never less than 9.4) and en route to the Wooden Award in 1998 he snatched down 10.5 rebounds per game and led his squad to the Final Four. If #33 would have come back to school for his senior campaign I have no doubts that he would’ve became the Tar Heels top rebounder ever, nevertheless Jamison is one of the best.

2. Billy Cunningham

Now I’m sure the young Carolina fans will say “Who?” However, once they do a little homework, it’s easy to see why “The Kangaroo Kid” sits so high on this list. Standing at 6’6, Cunningham was an undersized power forward and all he did in his career at UNC was average 24.3 points and even more impressive 15.1 boards per game. Those 15.1 rebounds is still the highest per game average in Carolina history and in my opinion it will never be broken.

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Billy also has the best single-season for rebounding, as he pulled down 16.1 a contest  in 1962-63. He holds other UNC records on the glass as well like; most double-digit rebounding games in a career (61) and in a season (21). The numbers that Cunningham put up on the backboards are video game like. This guy was a beast on the glass in the early 60’s and for those Tar Heel fans who are a little more seasoned than myself, I would listen to the argument that the “The Kangaroo Kid” is the best rebounder that Carolina has ever had.

1. Tyler Hansbrough

When it comes to rebounding you can’t get any better than number one all time at your school and that’s exactly where Tyler sits. Psycho T was the most relentless player I’ve ever seen on the backboards.  Although he was never the most athletic player, Hansbrough played with heart, toughness and determination – which in return helped him out work most of his opponents.

The energy that Tyler played with is stuff of old folk tales. His passion for the game would spill over to his teammates and even though Hansbrough didn’t say too much, he led with his play on the court. #50 never averaged less than  7.8 rebounds per game and during his Wooden Award winning junior campaign, Tyler grabbed 10.2 boards a night and led Carolina to their first of back to back Final Fours. Over the great history of UNC hoops, there may have been a few players who averaged more rebounds per game but no player pulled down as many and work as hard while doing so. Those facts are just a few reasons that #50 will be never worn again in Chapel Hill.