Carolina’s Greatest Players of the ACC Era: 30-21

To review picks 31-100, see: 91-100 (+ methodology), 81-90, 71-80, 61-70, 51-60, 41-50, and 31-40.

Let’s crack the top 30.

30. Lee Shaffer: 1958-60, PF, 6’7″, 220, Pittsburgh, PA

  • Peak season (1960): 18.2 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 43.6 FG%, 78.6 FT%, 48.8 TS%
  • Career averages (3 years): 14.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 44.4 FG%, 76.7 FT%, 49.8 TS%
  • Accolades: one 1st-team All-American, one 3rd-team All-American, one ACC Player of the Year, one 1st-team All-ACC, one 2nd-team All-ACC, two All-ACC Tournament teams

In his first year on the varsity in 1958, a sophomore Shaffer averaged 11.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and shot 74.1% from the line. Those numbers improved across the board in each of the next two seasons (13.2/7.1/77.1, 18.2/11.2/78.6), culminating in ACC Player of the Year and 1st-team All-American honors in ’60. After a rough start to his ACC Tournament career (4.7 PPG on 31.6% from the field in ’58), Shaffer played extremely well in Raleigh (the annual site of the ACCT in those days). In ’59, he averaged 18.3 points and 12.0 rebounds in three ACCT games (including 21 and 21 in the 1st round versus Clemson). He was even better as a senior, averaging 25.0 points and 11.5 rebounds in two games. Shaffer made the All-Tournament team in both of those seasons. At a solidly-built 220 pounds (quite big for the late-50s), Shaffer combined physicality, skill, and a soft shooting touch. While he’s the least heralded of Carolina’s ACC POYs (a group that also includes Rosenbluth, Brennan, Cunningham, Miller, Kupchak, Ford, Jordan, Jamison, Forte, Hansbrough, and Lawson), Lee Shaffer has earned his place among the program’s legends.

29. Raymond Felton: 2003-05, PG, 6’1″, 193, Latta, SC

  • Peak season (2005): 12.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 6.9 apg, 2.0 spg, 45.5 FG%, 70.1 FT%, 44.0 3Pt%, 58.9 TS%, 3.52 WORP / 35 games
  • Career averages (3 years): 12.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 6.9 apg, 1.9 spg, 42.3 FG%, 73.1 FT%, 37.5 3Pt%, 55.0 TS%, 8.41 Career WORP, 2.46 WORP / 1,000 minutes
  • Accolades: one 3rd-team All-American, one 1st-team All-ACC, two 3rd-team All-ACCs, two All-ACC Tournament teams, one Final Four All-Tournament team, starter on one Final Four/national championship team

While Felton’s career statistics and accolades are impressive in their own right, he deserves a slight intangible bump for his importance to the program. Sticking to his commitment to the Heels through the 8-20 season, Felton (along with fellow newcomers McCants and May) instantly re-invigorated UNC upon his arrival in Chapel Hill. As McCants and May struggled some with attitude and injury problems, Felton remained a rock under both the Matt Doherty and Roy Williams regimes. Few Heels have played with as much heart, energy, and intensity as the warrior from Latta. To end his freshman season, Felton averaged 15.3 points and 9.8 assists over the final six games (including 18/10 (with 8 boards) in an upset of #10 Duke, 20/10 in an ACCT upset of #14 Maryland, and 15/14 (a UNC postseason assist record) in an NIT win over Wyoming). As a sophomore, Felton endured a shooting slump (31.3% on 3s) while learning to run Roy Williams’s high-octane offense. He still led the conference in APG (7.1) and earned third-team All-ACC honors. As a junior, Felton’s retooled perimeter shot was money (44.0% from deep), and he was selected as a 1st-team All-ACC member. He averaged 16.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.8 assists in UNC’s eight postseason games in ’05. This included a career-high 29 points to stave off a Clemson upset bid in the ACCT quarters. He capped off his Carolina career in style, earning a spot on the Final Four All-Tournament team with averages of 16.5/5.5/7.0. Felton made most of the big plays down the stretch in UNC’s title-game win against Illinois: a 3-point dagger over Deron “Shutdown Man” Williams, three-of-four clutch free throws, and a game-clinching steal on the defensive end (Felton’s consistent ball pressure set the tone all season for the ’05 champions’ disruptive defense).

28. Joe Forte: 2000-01, SG, 6’4″, 190, Greenbelt, MD

  • Peak season (2001): 20.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.0 spg, 45.0 FG%, 85.3 FT%, 37.7 3Pt%, 54.6 TS%, 4.02 WORP / 35 games
  • Career averages (2 years): 18.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.8 spg, 45.4 FG%, 81.0 FT%, 36.8 3Pt%, 54.4 TS%, 5.52 Career WORP, 2.37 WORP / 1,000 minutes
  • Accolades: one 1st-team All-American, one ACC Player of the Year, one 1st-team All-ACC, one 2nd-team All-ACC, one ACC Rookie of the Year, one Regional MVP, one regional All-Tournament team, one All-ACC Tournament team, starter on one Final Four team

Forte had one of the greatest debuts in Carolina history, knocking down a 3-pointer less than 10 seconds into his collegiate career. He’d score 24 in that game  on 9-of-12 shooting (vs. USC at the Maui Invitational), earn MVP of the Maui Invitational, and keep pouring in the points throughout his two-year stint as a Tar Heel. As a freshman, Forte won MVP of the South Regional by averaging 20.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in the four games. That included 22 against Tennessee in the Sweet 16 and 28 (of the team’s 59) in an Elite 8 victory over Tulsa. As a sophomore, Forte was the ACC co-Player of the Year and a 1st-team All-American. His signature game was probably the 24-point, 16-rebound, 6-assist masterpiece in a road upset of #2 Duke. He also averaged 24.5 points in two wins over Maryland, a Final Four team in 2001. After reaching #1 in the country, the ’01 Heels self-destructed to end the season. Forte is responsible for some of that poor finish– for both on-court and off-court/locker room reasons. In an ACCT title loss to Duke and an NCAAT Round of 32 loss to Penn State, Forte averaged just 10 PPG on 25.0% shooting from the field. He entered the NBA after his sophomore season, and the ’02 Heels clearly missed his presence on the court.  

27. Rasheed Wallace: 1994-95, C, 6’11”, 225, Philadelphia, PA

  • Peak season (1995): 16.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.7 bpg, 65.4 FG%, 63.1 FT%, 65.7 TS%, 4.51 WORP / 35 games
  • Career averages (2 years): 13.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 63.5 FG%, 62.1 FT%, 63.8 TS%, 6.42 Career WORP, 3.64 WORP / 1,000 minutes
  • Accolades: one 1st-team All-American, one 1st-team All-ACC, one All-ACC Tournament, one regional All-Tournament, starter on one Final Four team

Sadly, it appears that Elevatorman’s “100 Reasons Why We Love Rasheed Wallace” is no longer archived on the World Wide Web (the best I could find was this). While that list could stand alone as justification for his top 30 inclusion, we’ll have to find some other reasons. Wallace signed with Carolina on the heels of the ’93 championship, and found himself behind seniors Eric Montross and Kevin Salvadori as a freshman in ’94. Even in a reserve role, it didn’t take ‘Sheed long to make his presence felt: he scored 12 points (on 6-of-6 shooting), grabbed 13 rebounds, and swatted 5 shots in his second career game, a Preseason NIT win over Cincinnati. Wallace was moved into the starting line-up on a permanent basis before the ’94 regular-season finale (a 10-point win at #2 Duke in which he scored 14 points). He followed that up with 17 points and 16 rebounds in an ACCT win over FSU, and 18 and 10 in a 1st Round NCAAT win over Liberty. As a sophomore, Wallace developed into a 1st-team All-American as a full-time starter. In three games against Maryland in ’95, Wallace torched #1 pick Joe Smith for 23.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 3.7 BP (including 33/6/5 in the ACCT semis). After injuring his ankle in the ACCT final, Wallace was limited through the first two games of the NCAAT. But he busted out in the Sweet 16 against Georgetown to the tune of 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 blocked shots. One of the most talented players to ever wear the uniform (in terms of pure run-and-jump athleticism, post moves/skills, shooting touch, etc.), ‘Sheed will be remembered as an all-time great despite only staying in college for two years.   

26. Eric Montross: 1991-94, C, 7’0″, 270, Indianapolis, IN

  • Peak season (1993): 15.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 61.5 FG%, 68.4 FT%, 63.9 TS%, 4.75 WORP / 35 games
  • Career averages (4 years): 11.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 58.5 FG%, 62.4 FT%, 60.0 TS%, 11.04 Career WORP, 3.15 WORP / 1,000 minutes
  • Accolades: two 1st-team All-Americans, one 1st-team All-ACC, one 2nd-team All-ACC, two regional All-Tournament teams, one Final Four All-Tournament team, one All-ACC Tournament team, starter on one Final Four/national championship team, reserve on one Final Four team

As a freshman, Montross was a key post reserve on Dean Smith’s ’91 Final Four team (he added 17 points and 6 rebounds in only 18 minutes in a Sweet 16 romp of Eastern Michigan). He moved into the starting line-up in ’92, and remained there for his final three campaigns. Never a flashy player, Montross was a steady and consistent presence on both ends. He could finish in the paint, knock down a jump hook with either hand, and provide fantastic positional post defense against even the most physical of college 5s. Montross earned some 1st-team All-American honors following both his junior and senior seasons. As a senior, however, both his scoring volume (21.1 pace-adjusted points per 40 as a junior to 14.8 as a senior) and scoring efficiency (TS% drop from 63.9 to 54.4) suffered significant declines. In Carolina’s 1993 championship run, Montross had a typically consistent (if not dominant) performance. He scored at least 15 points in 8 of UNC’s 9 postseason games that season, and grabbed at least 7 rebounds in 7 of the 9. He also shot at least 60% in 8 of the 9 postseason contests (and “only” 54.5% in the 9th). His signature games of that stretch included a 19/17 against Georgia Tech in the ACCT championship, and 23 points against Kansas in the Final Four.

25. Jerry Stackhouse: 1994-95, PF/SF, 6’6″, 218, Kinston, NC

  • Peak season (1995): 19.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 51.7 FG%, 71.2 FT%, 41.1 3Pt%, 60.4 TS%, 4.24 WORP / 35 games
  • Career averages (2 years): 15.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.4 apg, 49.6 FG%, 72.0 FT%, 35.5 3Pt%, 57.9 TS%, 6.68 Career WORP, 3.44 WORP / 1,000 minutes
  • Accolades: one National Player of the Year, one 1st-team All-American, one 1st-team All-ACC, one ACC Tournament MVP, two All-ACC Tournament teams, one regional MVP, one regional All-Tournament team, starter on one Final Four team

Stackhouse and Wallace will forever be linked in Carolina lore. As two of the top recruits in their class, they entered the program together in the fall of 1993. After two seasons that culminated with a Final Four trip, they also left the program together as top 5 NBA draft picks. On this list, Stackhouse is given a slight nod for being the go-to scorer and offensive alpha male for the ’95 Heels (he was SI’s National Player of the Year that season). Stack started just one game as a freshman (behind incumbent starter Brian Reese), but still made his impact felt. Coming off the bench, Stackhouse averaged  15.7 PPG and 6.7 RPG in three games on his way to the 1994 ACC Tournament MVP award. He shot 29 free throws (making 23) over that 3-game stretch, exceeding his total of 26 field goals attempts. Getting to the line was always a strength of the powerful, athletic, and ultra-aggressive Stackhouse. Among Carolina’s 1,000-point scorers, only Pete Brennan and Tyler Hansbrough had higher FTA Rates (Haywood’s was the same as Stackhouse’s). In 1995, Stackhouse played as an undersized 4 for the Heels. His versatility was on display in the ’95 postseason when he led UNC in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and 3-point percentage. He blocked 1.8 shots per game that postseason, too. In an Elite 8 upset of Kentucky, Stackhouse scored 18 points, secured 12 rebounds, and dished out 6 assists. Even with a bruised thigh, he contributed 18 points and 6 rebounds in a Final Four loss to Arkansas. Stackhouse also added 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists in the double OT win at Duke in ’95. Two of the 25 happened here: everybody strut now!

24: York Larese: 1959-61, SF/SG, 6’4″, 190, New York, NY

  • Peak season (1961): 23.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 46.7 FG%, 78.5 FT%, 51.9 TS%
  • Career averages (3 years): 17.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 44.3 FG%, 79.6 FT%, 50.8 TS%
  • Accolades: one 2nd-team All-American, two 3rd-team All-Americans, three 1st-team All-ACCs, one All-ACC Tournament team

Larese and classmate Dog Moe were the linchpins of a three-year run in which the Heels went 57-15 (36-6 in the ACC). Larese earned 1st-team All-ACC honors in each of his three varsity seasons, and also made at least 3rd-team All-American in each of them. The lack of postseason success (no ACCT titles and a 1st-round loss in his only NCAAT) hurts his resume a little. In terms of pure production, though, few Heels could match “The Cobra” (a nickname given to Larese for his rapid-fire approach at the free-throw stripe– he made 87% there as a junior, and 80% for his career).  Larese scored at least 15 PPG in each of his three varsity seasons, a figure that exploded to 23.1 as a senior. After shooting just 3-of-15 and fouling out in an ’59 NCAAT loss to Navy, Larese had some dominating postseason performances in the 1960 ACCT: 28 points and 12 rebounds in an opening round win over UVa, and 25 and 8 in a 2-point loss to Duke in the semis. Larese shot 54% from the field and 94% from the line in those games, earning a spot on the All-Tournament team.

23. Dennis Wuycik: 1970-72, SF, 6’5″, 204, Ambridge, PA

  • Peak season (1971): 18.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.8 apg, 60.7 FG%, 85.8 FT%, 67.7 TS%
  • Career averages (3 years): 16.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.2 apg, 59.0 FG%, 83.4 FT%, 65.3 TS%
  • Accolades: one 1st-team All-American, two 1st-team All-ACCs, one regional MVP, one regional All-Tournament team, one All-ACC Tournament team, starter on one Final Four team

As seen in the below table, Wuycik was one of the most ruthlessly efficient scorers in UNC history. A physical, blue-collar type from Western PA, Wuycik was the wing version of Tyler Hansbrough. His rugged style resulted in a career FTA Rate of 58.8, 7th among Carolina’s 63 1,000-point scorers. And, like Hansbrough, he made the most of those myriad opportunities, knocking in 83.4% of his career chances at the line. Wuyick scored 24 points (on a predictably efficient 13 FGAs) in the 1972 ACCT championship game, leading the Heels to a victory over Maryland. He followed that up with 17.0 PPG in the East Regional to earn MVP honors there. But Wuycik saved his best postseason performances for the ’72 Final Four: in two games (including the national 3rd place game), he averaged 23.5 PPG and 7.0 RPG. He also got to the line 22 times in two games, converting 17. Wuycik was a 1st-team All-ACC selection as both a junior and senior. He was a 1st-team All-American as a senior. While he sometimes slips through the cracks when remembering Carolina legends, Wuycik’s combination of scoring volume and efficiency earn him a spot on this list’s top 25.

Most Efficient 15-PPG Seasons in Carolina History

Player Year PPG TS%
1. Dennis Wuycik 1972 18.0 68.1%
2. Dennis Wuycik 1971 18.4 67.7%
3. Mike O’Koren 1978 17.3 67.6%
4. Brad Daugherty 1986 20.2 66.0%
T-5. Ty Lawson 2009 16.6 65.9%
T-5. Vince Carter 1998 15.6 65.9%
7. Rasheed Wallace 1995 16.7 65.7%

22. George Lynch: 1990-93, PF, 6’8″, 218, Roanoke, VA

  • Peak season (1993): 14.7 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.3 spg, 50.1 FG%, 66.7 FT%, 52.7 TS%, 4.30 WORP / 35 games
  • Career averages (4 years): 12.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.7 spg, 51.9 FG%, 65.1 FT%, 54.7 TS%, 11.52 Career WORP, 3.13 WORP / 1,000 minutes
  • Accolades: one 1st-team All-ACC team, one 3rd-team All-ACC, one regional MVP, one regional All-Tournament team, one Final Four All-Tournament team, one All-ACC Tournament team, starter on two Final Four/one national championship team(s)

Lynch is remembered fondly by Tar Heel fans as the vocal and emotional senior leader of the 1993 champs. Like Felton, he provided intangible benefits to the program that supplement (and, in some instances, overshadow) his traditional box score contributions. And while leadership, toughness, and heart don’t show up in a box score, a lot of things that Lynch did very well for four years do (like points, rebounds, and steals). Lynch averaged a double-double (14.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG) in the ’93 postseason, dominated the East Regional (averaging 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 3.5 steals in tight victories over Arkansas and Cincinnati), and added two more double-doubles in the Final Four (14/10 vs. Kansas, 12/10 vs. Michigan). Still, in typical Lynch fashion, he might be best remembered for a non-box score contribution (the trap on Chris Webber that forced the timeout/technical foul). Lynch never made even a 3rd-team All-American list (joining Walter Davis as the Heels in the top 37 for which that is the case). But his four years of consistency on both ends of the court– culminating with the ’93 national championship– earn him high marks from both the “statistical/WORP” and “intangibles/little things” crowds. Despite what the record books say, George Lynch is an All-American in the hearts of Carolina fans.

21. Mike O’Koren: 1977-80, PF/SF, 6’7″, 198, Jersey City, NJ

  • Peak season (1978): 17.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.7 spg, 64.3 FG%, 74.8 FT%, 67.5 TS%, 3.76 WORP / 35 games (for the 1980 season)
  • Career averages (4 years): 15.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.6 spg, 57.2 FG%, 72.6 FT%, 61.4 TS%
  • Accolades: three 1st-team All-Americans, two 1st-team All-ACCs, one 2nd-team All-ACC, one Final Four All-Tournament team, two All-ACC Tournament teams, starter on one Final Four team

O’Koren’s list of accolades are extremely impressive: three 1st-team All-Americans, two 1st-team All-ACCs, and a a 2nd-team All-ACC. He loses a little bit of credit on this list for essentially peaking as a sophomore– although he was still very good as an upperclassman. He never really blossomed into a NPOY-caliber superstar, although his consistency and 4-year production are quite outstanding in their own right. O’Koren’s most memorable performance as a Tar Heel was probably the 1977 Final Four when he poured in 31 points against UNLV in the national semis. He shot 14-of-19 from the field in that game, leading the Heels to an 84-83 come-from-behind victory. O’Koren also scored 21 with 8 rebounds in the ’77 ACCT championship game, and added a double-double (14 and 11) in the national championship loss to Marquette. At his best in big games, O’Koren added 18 and 8 in UNC’s victory in the ’79 ACCT title game. He scored efficiently, contributed in all phases (great passer and rebounder, won the Carmichael-Cobb defensive award in 1980), and was an instant-impact player as soon as he stepped on campus. Only his (relatively) low peak keeps him out of the top 20 on this list. And only at Carolina can “1st-team All-American” be considered a “(relatively) low peak.”

About Adrian

I'm the editor of Maple Street Press's Tar Heel Tip-off, and live in Raleigh with my wife and 2-year-old daughter. I grew up along the banks of the Allegheny River, and terrorized the WPIAL as a pass-first point guard. Follow me on Twitter @FreeportKid.
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One Response to Carolina’s Greatest Players of the ACC Era: 30-21

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  1. I’m fine with Forte this high.

    Then again, if he and Felton are separated by 1 ranking, I can’t accept Forte being the higher ranked player.

    Yes, I love Felton in a, I-question-my-sexuality way. And, no, I don’t disdain all things Forte. 3 vs 2 years, the championship, and even you mentioned the intangibles/program impact.

    I see your reasoning and I disagree. I will put it like that. Love this stuff.

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