Carolina men’s basketball fans love to reminisce about what might have been in 1995-96. Had Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace stuck around for their junior seasons, they’d have played alongside freshmen Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter. That roster also would have included Jeff McInnis, Shammond Williams, Serge Zwikker, Ademola Okulaja and Dante Calabria. That’s four NBA All-Stars, two more NBA players and some solid reserves. Without Stackhouse and Wallace, that team was upset in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The next year, though, they went to the Final Four, with Ed Cota running the show. Imagine if Stackhouse and Wallace had stuck around for their senior seasons.
But ho hum, that’s been done. Let’s try another twist. Imagine the NCAA declared that players who chose to forgo their college eligibility for the NBA could come back, join their teams and complete their careers. So Justin Jackson and Tony Bradley could return to Carolina for another run at a ring. Taking the current Tar Heels plus any that left before completing their four years, what’s the best ten-man rotation you can put together?
Yes, it’s silly, but it’s a fun exercise. Automatically, you’d want to put that Stackhouse and Wallace and Jamison and Carter team together. Your options include Hall of Famers like Bob McAdoo and James Worthy. You’d definitely want Michael Jordan for one more year.
There’s a catch, however: for our purposes, they stay their current age. Jordan is 54. Rasheed and Jerry are 43. Could they still run with college kids?
My team would look something like this:
PG: Joel Berry - your other options are a 33 year-old Raymond Felton, 30 year-old Ty Lawson and 26 year-old Kendall Marshall. I think Joel is your best bet.
SG: Wayne Ellington, age 30. Wayne was the 2009 Final Four MOP and is averaging 8 points off the bench for the Miami Heat.
SF: Harrison Barnes, age 25. He’s an NBA starter, so he almost automatically gets a spot.
PF: Marvin Williams, age 31. I know he plays more on the perimeter in the NBA, but I’ve got to find a place for him. If you look at his NBA numbers, you’d think we’re giving up rebounding, but I think playing alongside Dwight Howard has something to do with that. Plus, Marvin’s 6’9. He can go get it.
C: John Henson, age 26. A part-time starter for the Milwaukee Bucks, I think John could do a nice job holding it down here.
Raymond Felton, age 33. He’s still in the league.
Justin Jackson, age 22. He should be a senior in college anyway, and he was the MVP of the national championship team a year ago. Kind of a no-brainer here.
Vince Carter, age 40. The oldest player in the NBA is still getting it done. Now the sage of the Sacramento Kings, Vince put up eight points the other night in 12 minutes in a win over the Bulls.
Ed Davis, age 28. We gotta have some size off the bench, and Ed was really good when he was healthy.
Luke Maye. Just the grittiness, you know?
J.P. Tokoto, age 24. Jean-Pierre brings defensive intensity and high-flying ability. You didn’t forget about him, did you?
Tony Bradley, age 19. Length and shot blocking. Oh, and youth.
Gosh, that was harder than I thought it would be. I left off Brandan Wright, for example. Part of me wanted to go back and grab Antawn out of retirement, but I just didn’t have room. Part of me also wants to put Jordan at 54 on the roster just for fun. And I had to leave off my all-time favorite Tar Heel, Jerry Stackhouse. He’s crushing it as the coach of Toronto’s G-League team. Maybe he’s a player-coach. And Theo deserves a spot, right? This is too tough.
So that’s that. Let us know who you’d put on your roster in the comments below!