Redshirt junior K.J. Smith, a guard for the North Carolina men's basketball team, has been put on scholarship for the 2019-20 season, the team announced Tuesday via Twitter.
The video features head coach Roy Williams awarding the scholarship to Smith followed by raucous cheers from Smith's teammates. Smith then FaceTimed his father, UNC graduate and NBA champion Kenny Smith, telling him the news.
"Imma keep it real," the older Smith said. "It was earned, it wasn't given."
Smith played one season at Pacific University in 2016-17, starting three games and averaging 3.2 points in 13.0 minutes. He then sat out the 2017-18 season and transferred to North Carolina, the same school where his father was named a first-team All-American and first-team All-ACC in 1987.
“I just feel like I'm a younger version of him, almost,” Smith – or "Baby Jet," as his teammates call him – told the DTH in February.
As a redshirt sophomore, the younger Smith appeared in 22 games in Carolina Blue, averaging 1.8 minutes per game. He figures to be the only upperclassman who can play a true point guard role for the Tar Heels this season. Guards Cole Anthony, Anthony Harris and Leaky Black have less than a season of college experience combined.
Harris and Anthony are incoming first-years. Black, a sophomore, had a promising rookie season derailed by injury. While Anthony will most likely assume a starting role, Smith could see early limited minutes as a backup ball handler while Harris learns the ropes and Black works his way back into the lineup.
With a total of six newcomers in tow, North Carolina will kick off the 2019-20 season on Nov. 6 against Notre Dame.
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