Four years worth of athletic accomplishments from three North Carolina athletes received the ultimate recognition on Tuesday — as men's basketball's Joel Berry II, women's lacrosse's Marie McCool and track and field's Kenny Selmon were all named the 2018 Patterson Medal recipients.
The award, given to UNC athletes who played at least three years in Chapel Hill, takes into account the career athletic achievements, sportsmanship and leadership of players during their college careers. The three honorees — all four-year players and national champions in one facet or another — joined a long list of notable players to receive the honor, like soccer legend Mia Hamm, 10-year NBA pro Kenny Smith and NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor.
Berry, who is one of only two players in UNC program history to be named both the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player and the ACC Tournament MVP in their career. He also scored at least 20 points in back-to-back national championships — the first player since Bill Walton in 1972-73 — and was his team's leading scorer a season ago. When the team lost in the Round of 32, he left behind a career worth noting, as the honor recognizes.
"The Patterson Medal means so much to me because it's a testimony to the hard work and dedication I put into what I do," Berry said, according to a press release from GoHeels.com. "It shows the sacrifices I made to be successful on and off the court. I know I have a unique platform to inspire young adults and kids to work hard at whatever they do, and that's more important than anything."
Berry ended his college career with more than 1,800 points and 400 assists, only the fourth player to put up those numbers in a UNC uniform. All three of the other players, Marcus Paige, Walter Davis and Phil Ford, were also Patterson Medal honorees at the close of their careers.
Most recently, Berry signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Los Angeles Lakers and he'll launch into a professional career knowing what kind of player he was in college.
Across campus at Fetzer Field, McCool made her name as one of the best players in college lacrosse. She played an integral role in UNC's 2016 national championship, then continued to dominate the last two years on her way to quite the career resume.
McCool was the first player in ACC history to win ACC Midfielder of the Year twice and moves beyond Chapel Hill as the only player in program history to be honored as an All-American on three separate occasions.
"Thank you to the University of North Carolina for honoring me with this prestigious award," McCool said in the release. "I am humbled to join the list of some of the Tar Heel legends. It has been a great honor to represent the Carolina Blue for the past four years, and I will continue support the Tar Heels as a proud alumna."
At careers end, McCool ranks second in draw controls (295), third in points (246), fourth in goals (183) and eighth in assists (63). She also was the youngest player on the U.S. National Team at the 2017 World Cup, which went on a run to a gold medal.
Kenny Selmon has accomplished just as much in his own right on the track, and becomes the 10th UNC track and field athlete to receive the honor since it began in 1924.
He was named All-America three times in four years, named the 2018 USTWCCCA Southeast Region Track Athlete of the Year and has been an Academic All-ACC selection and a two-time ACC Champion in the 400-meter hurdles over four years.
As a sophomore, Selmon qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials. During the 2017 NCAA Championship, Selmon, then a junior, broke a 22-year-old school record for the 400-meter hurdles event. A year later, he set another school record with a 48.21 in the same event. As a senior, he finished runner-up in the NCAA Championship 400-meter hurdles before calling it a career.
"Winning this award means so much to me," Selmon said in the release. "True Tar Heel legends such as Kenny Smith, Mia Hamm, Phil Ford and Shalane Flanagan have won this award, and I am honored to be even considered in their category."
Last week, Selmon capped off a historic UNC career in cinematic fashion by winning the U.S. Track and Field national title in the 400-meter hurdles — his final run in a Tar Heel uniform that qualified him for the U.S. National Team. The Patterson medal is just one more accomplishment to add onto the list of his outright dominance on the track.
Berry, McCool and Selmon won't return for the Tar Heels next season, but they'll all leave behind a lasting impact on the programs they stood out in. Their recognition as winners of this prestigious career award only adds a dash more evidence to prove that.
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