UNC Basketball: Why Jerry Stackhouse might not have gone to UNC

Former UNC basketball great and 18-year NBA veteran Jerry Stackhouse talks Tar Heels, recruiting and more with The Players’ Tribune.

Jerry Stackhouse is a North Carolina basketball legend, and one of the all-time greats in the eyes of Tar Heel fans everywhere. After being named a consensus first team All-American in 1995, Stackhouse followed up his memorable two-year stint in college with an 18-year NBA career that included better than 16,000 points scored and two All-Star Game appearances.

Upon his retirement from the league in 2013, Stackhouse made several stops in the NBA and in the G-League both as an assistant and a head coach. He’s currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee, preparing for his second season as head coach of the SEC’s Vanderbilt Commodores.

Stackhouse made an appearance on Knuckleheads with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles this week, the most recent podcast released online early Thursday morning. The former Tar Heel talked about his time with the UNC basketball program, and one of the players that was instrumental in getting him to Chapel Hill.

“Man it was big time, because I knew I had a partner that I’d competed with,” Stackhouse said of committing to North Carolina with Charlotte native Jeff McInnis. “He knew how to find me. We had really good chemistry together on the lobs and stuff. He was one of the best alley-oop passers, maybe ever. He put that ball on the money.”

Stackhouse credited his relationship with McInnis as one of the main reasons for choosing North Carolina over a number of other schools. He also noted former Tar Heels Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins — and their trajectory after college that led them to successful NBA careers — as reasons for pledging to Dean Smith and the Tar Heels.

Perhaps the most interesting thing that Stackhouse talked about was how he might not have committed to the Tar Heels had he known they were going to win the 1993 NCAA Championship.

“. . . And they hadn’t won a championship since 1982, so that was part of my motivation for going there,” Stackhouse said. “We wanted to get back on top. The thing is, they win a championship that spring of our senior year, so it was a little bit deflating. I don’t even know if I’d have gone there if that decision would have been made after the championship, because you wanna be a part of something that hasn’t happened in a while. . .”

Nevertheless, Stackhouse went to North Carolina and put together one of the most impressive two-year stretches in program history. As a freshman, he started just one of the team’s 35 games, but he averaged 12.2 points, five rebounds and two assists in just 21 minutes a game.

The following season, however, Stackhouse got to showcase his game more, starting 33-of-34 games, and exerting himself as the Tar Heels’ go-to guy. He averaged a team-high 19.2 points per game on 51.7 percent shooting, and 41.1 percent from three-point range. He also shot north of 71 percent from the free throw line, while bringing in 8.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game. He was named first team All-ACC, and consensus first team All-American.

After leaving North Carolina, Stackhouse and was selected third — one spot ahead of teammate and fellow All-American Rasheed Wallace — in the 1995 NBA Draft. He played nearly two decades in the league for the 76ers, Pistons, Wizards, Mavericks, Bucks, Heat, Hawks and Nets.