North Carolina has a long history of producing talent to the NBA. The most notable is obviously Michael Jordan, but various personalities Jerry Stackhouse to Rasheed Wallace to even longtime coach George Karl started in Chapel Hill.
The future looks bright, as well. Coby White is a projected NBA lottery pick. Nassir Little may need another year to finetune his game, but the former 5-star still figures to be a first-round selection. Even senior Cameron Johnson finds himself in various second-round projections.
What about right now though? 14 former Tar Heels are active players on NBA rosters. Out of that group, which 5 are the best? Let’s take a look.
1. Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings
The Iowa native out of Ames committed to North Carolina for the 2011 recruiting class. He averaged 16.3 points over 2 seasons, leading to the Golden State Warriors picking him No. 7 overall in 2012.
Since then, he’s been the highest-scoring Tar Heel in the NBA. He became an effective sixth man for the Warriors, earning All-Rookie honors his first year in the Bay Area. As a free agent in 2016, the 26-year old signed with the Dallas Mavericks.
Since then, he’s taken his game up a notch. He bumped up his scoring output to 18.3 points per game since the move, including a 37 percent rate from behind the arc. He took a dip after a mid-season trade to the Kings (14.8 ppg).
He also has a ring from the 2015 title with the Warriors. From scoring production to winning, Barnes is the most complete North Carolina alum currently playing professionally.
2. Danny Green, Toronto Raptors
Green is the proverbial “3-and-D” sixth man. He made the all-defensive second team in 2017. As the clip above shows you, his 6-foot-6 length gives him an advantage in manning up superstars like James Harden.
After helping guide the Tar Heels to the 2009 NCAA title, he was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round. Since then, he has averaged over 10 points per contest while draining just under 45 percent of his triples.
After his time in Cleveland, he became an important cog for Greg Popovich and the Spurs, helping shut down LeBron James and the Miami Heat for the 2014 NBA title. He currently finds himself in the starting rotation for the Raptors, who are in line for a high seed in the Eastern Conference.
3. Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets
Williams helped Roy Williams win his first NCAA title in 2005. Since getting drafted by the Atlanta Hawks the summer after, Williams has seen a healthy and consistent 13-year career.
The 6-foot-9, 237-pounder has adapted well to the new 5-out craze for NBA offenses. He has averaged over 10 points per game while canning just under 37 percent of his 3’s. His most successful stretch came from 2006 to 2009 with the Hawks, as he tallied 14 points and 5.7 rebounds a night.
Despite the longevity, he is still averaging in double figures for the Hornets. As recently as this month, he was racking up 30 points versus the Wizards in a pivotal game for Charlotte’s playoff hopes.
4. Reggie Bullock, Los Angeles Lakers/Wayne Ellington, Detroit Pistons
I’m lumping these two in the same category. Both have been 3-point specialists for the Pistons in their respective careers.
This year, Ellington has seen his role increase, as he’s scored 11.3 points for a Pistons team gunning for the playoffs. Since Detroit traded Bullock to Los Angeles earlier this winter, he’s fallen off a bit. However, it doesn’t erase his career average of 11.1 points per game.
Both have their roles on NBA rosters, and figure to have some life down the line.
5. Vince Carter, Atlanta Hawks
Let’s be honest. The 42-year old is well past his prime. He hasn’t averaged double-digits since his time with the Mavericks in 2014.
However, it gives me an excuse to dust off his dunk footage. Enjoy.