Tag Archives: Tommy Kearns

Carolina’s Greatest Players of the ACC Era: 40-31

The first 60 selections on the list can be found here: 100-91 (+ methodology), 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, and 50-41.

Picking back up with #40.

40. Derrick Phelps: 1991-94, PG, 6’3″, 180, Pleasantville, NY

  • Peak season (1993): 8.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 5.4 apg, 2.3 spg, 45.7 FG%, 67.5 FT%, 31.3 3Pt%, 51.9 TS%, 3.32 WORP / 35 games
  • Career averages (4 years): 7.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.8 apg, 1.9 spg, 44.8 FG%, 71.8 FT%, 32.2 3Pt%, 53.2 TS%, 9.19 Career WORP, 2.84 WORP/ 1,000 minutes
  • Accolades: one 2nd-team All-ACC, one All-ACC Tournament team, starter on one Final Four/national championship team, reserve on one Final Four team

Phelps was one of the truly elite defenders in Carolina history, winning three straight Carmichael-Cobb awards from ’92-’94 (no easy task with George Lynch, also a top-notch defender, on the roster for two of those years). Like Cota (passing), Phelps (defense) had one truly extraordinary talent. He gets the (slight) nod due to the rest of his game being slightly better than the rest of Cota’s game. After backing up King Rice as a freshman in ’91 (and playing about 10 MPG during UNC’s Final Four run), Phelps moved into the starting line-up permanently in ’92. In February of that season, he set a UNC record with 9 steals against Georgia Tech. He also added 11 assists in that game, demonstrating how profoundly he could affect the outcome on both ends without scoring (he scored just 5 points on 5 FGAs in that game). Phelps steered the Heels to a title in ’93 in his typical fashion– no gaudy stats, just game-changing contributions on both ends (like locking down Cincinnati’s Nick Van Exel in the 2nd half of the Elite 8 contest). As a senior, Phelps made 2nd-team All-ACC, then All-ACC Tournament team by averaging 10.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 3.0 steals in three UNC wins. His career ended in a disappointing manner as he suffered a concussion after a flagrant foul by BC’s Danya Abrams. Phelps played just 14 minutes in that Round of 32 loss before being injured.
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