UNC Basketball: 5 Best Passers Ever


The University of North Carolina has had a history of great point guards such as Marcus Paige, Kendall Marshall, Raymond Felton, King Rice, Ed Cota, Kenny Smith, Phil Ford, and Ty Lawson, just to name a few. The Tar Heels have had great scoring point guards as well as great passing point guards. Here is a list of UNC’s best five passers:

5) Kenny Smith

Kenney “The Jet” Smith played at UNC from 1983 to 1987 and ranks 2nd all-time in assists at UNC with 768 assists in 127 games which is an assist per game average of 6.1, which he is tied with Phil Ford for. Smith is tied for 4th in double doubles of points and assists as well as 5th in games with 10 or more assists.

4) Phil Ford

Phil Ford might be the most beloved Tar Heel ever. He was before my time and I really wish I could have watched him play. He played at UNC from 1974-1978. He is 3rd all-time in assists with 753 assists in 123 games. That is for a tie for 4th at UNC in assist per game average at 6.1. Ford is also 4th in games of 10 or more assists with 16 games as such. He is first all-time in double doubles with points and assists with 15 games doing this.

3) Raymond Felton

Felton played at North Carolina from 2002-2005 and won a National Championship. Felton was a good scoring point guard as well as a good passing point guard. Felton is the only one on this list to win a National Championship. Raymond is 4th all-time at UNC in assists with 698 assists in 101 games. That comes to be a 6.98 assist per game average, which happens to be 3rd all-time at UNC. He holds the North Carolina record with 18 assists in a game. Not even Kendall Marshall matched that. He ranks 3rd at UNC in double doubles of points and assists. He had 11 games like that. Raymond is also 3rd in games with 10 or more assists with 18 games of 10 assists or more.

When it comes down to it, Felton was an extremely effective point guard at the collegiate level. He could score the ball as well as make a great pass.

2) Kendall Marshall

Kendall Marshall only stayed at North Carolina from 2010-2012, so one might wonder why he is so high on this list above Carolina greats such as Ford and Smith. Keep in mind he only played 2 seasons at UNC. Marshall had 581 assists in of 73 games 2 seasons, which is not in the top 5 ranks of all-time assists. But Marshall did have the highest assist per game average of 7.98 as well as the best assist to turnover ratio of 3.01. No one else on this list is even in the top 5 best assist to turnover ratio at UNC. If Kendall Marshall would have stayed 4 years like Cota did and kept the same pace he would have ended up as the NCAA’s all-time assist leader, in front of Ed Cota and Bobby Hurley.

Marshall may be the best passer UNC or the NCAA has ever seen, but he only stayed two years so now no one will ever truly know. Here are some video examples of a few of his passes.

1) Ed Cota

More from North Carolina Tar Heels

Ed Cota played at UNC from 1996-2000 and ended up as being 2nd all-time in assists in the NCAA and 1st in assists at UNC. There is only one thing that he does not have in common with the rest of these point guards that you might not expect. Cota is the only one on this list that was never drafted by the NBA or ever played in the NBA. Cota ended up with 1030 assists in 138 games with an average of 7.46 assists per game. The 2nd all-time assist leader at UNC, Kenny Smith, is only behind by 262 assists and only played 11 fewer games.  Cota had 32 games of 10 or more assists in 138 games which is good for 1st at UNC.

To this day I will never understand how a point guard with his elite passing ability never played in an NBA game. Here is a video of an Ed Cota highlight reel.