UNC in the NBA: Former Tar Heels in action Friday night

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 17: Harrison Barnes
DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 17: Harrison Barnes /

Former Tar Heels making an impact around the league

When it comes to producing talent and getting college basketball players to the NBA, the University of North Carolina is consistently ranked among the top-5 programs in the nation.

Along with Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and UCLA, North Carolina is responsible for filling a vast number of roster spots across the NBA, as well as in the G-League and internationally.

A number of former Tar Heels were in action Friday night, and played a big part in the outcome of their respective teams’ game.

Wayne Ellington

Wayne Ellington continued his three-point shooting barrage on Friday night when he knocked down six more triples and propelled Miami to a 107-104 overtime victory over the New York Knicks.

NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 25: Wayne Ellington
NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 25: Wayne Ellington /

The former Tar Heel standout has been impressive for the Heat this season, improving his scoring average by more than two points per game over the last six weeks. He’s currently fifth in the league in made three-pointers behind only James Harden, Klay Thompson, Paul George and Eric Gordon.

Despite coming off the bench for the Heat in all 38 of the team’s games, Ellington’s impact has been substantial. Since the start of December, he’s scored double-digit points in 10 of Miami’s 17 games and logged nearly 30 minutes a night as a reserve.

Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes continued his strong season for the Mavericks on Friday night, finishing the game with 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists. He also added a steal, and committed just one foul and one turnover in 35 minutes of play.

Unfortunately for Barnes and the Mavericks, the former Tar Heels’ effort wasn’t enough to stave off Kris Dunn and the Chicago Bulls, who won a 127-124 thriller that went down to the game’s final minutes.

Future Hall-of-Famer Dirk Nowitzki is still around, and up-and-comer Dennis Smith, Jr. has arrived, but Barnes has clearly asserted himself as the Mavericks’ leader, both on and off the court.

His 18.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game both lead the team, and his 34.7 minutes per game are more than anyone on the team, including Nowitzki, Smith, Yogi Ferrell and veteran shooting guard Wesley Matthews.

Marvin Williams

13-year NBA veteran Marvin Williams helped the Charlotte Hornets to a convincing 108-94 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

CHARLOTTE, NC – MARCH 10: Marvin Williams
CHARLOTTE, NC – MARCH 10: Marvin Williams /

The former North Carolina one-and-done scored 16 points for the Hornets in just 18 minutes of work. He hit 6-of-9 shots from the floor, including 4-of-6 from three-point range. He added five rebounds and two assists while committing zero turnovers.

Williams got off to a slow start this season, but after double-digit points in nine of his last 15 games, he appears to be back on track.

He’s averaging 9.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game for the 15-23 Hornets, who hope to make up ground in the second half of the season and position themselves to have a shot at reaching the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Ed Davis

Portland Trail Blazers reserve power forward Ed Davis had a nice game off the bench Friday night, scoring 12 points and pulling down five rebounds at home against the Atlanta Hawks. He was efficient, too, connecting on 5-of-6 shots from the floor and hitting both of his free throw attempts.

MIAMI, FL – DECEMBER 13: Ed Davis /

Perhaps even more impressive was that he did it all in just 18 minutes of play. Davis probably would have played more, though, had he not battled foul trouble throughout the night. He finished the game just one foul shy of a disqualification.

His contributions were important, regardless, helping the Blazers to a six-point halftime lead over the Hawks and eventual 110-89 blowout victory.

Despite being just ninth on the team in minutes at 17.9 per game, the former Tar Heel is third on the team in rebounds at 6.7 per game. The two Blazers who pull down more rebounds than Davis, Jusuf Nurkic and Al-Farouq Amino, average 10 and 13 more minutes per game, respectively.