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Antawn Jamison is UNC's overlooked legend when it comes to men's basketball

Antawn Jamison visits The Daily Tar Heel office on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019.
Buy Photos Antawn Jamison visits The Daily Tar Heel office on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019.

In the last 50 years of UNC basketball, just four players have won national player of the year awards. Three of them — Michael Jordan, Phil Ford and Tyler Hansbrough — are players most longtime North Carolina basketball fans would quickly name if you were to ask for their list of greatest Tar Heels ever. 

But even though he's more often left out of that conversation, one of the most decorated basketball players to ever wear Carolina Blue goes by the name of Antawn Jamison. And he's one of the best in Tar Heel history. Here's a look back at his career.

A force to be reckoned with

From the time he first stepped on the court in 1995, Jamison was one of the most dominant and physically imposing players in the country. He finished his first season second in the ACC in total rebounds behind only Wake Forest's Tim Duncan, a junior at the time.

Jamison also finished second on the team in scoring with 15.1 points per game. He was chosen to the ACC All-Freshman team and the All-ACC first team.

When guard Jeff McInnis departed for the pros after Jamison's first season, Carolina looked to the forward to take a starring role. He stepped up to the challenge as the team's top scorer with 19.1 points a night, and led the Tar Heels to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

He was once again named to the All-ACC first team, but the awards did not stop there. Jamison was a consensus second team All-American and was an NCAA Tournament All-Region player.

The best in the country

With Jamison, Vince Carter and Shammond Williams in tow, the Tar Heels won their first 17 games of 1997-98 and suffered just three losses total in the regular season against NC State, Maryland and Duke. 

The Tar Heels would get their revenge, though, as they took down each of those three teams in the ACC Tournament to claim victory. Jamison won ACC Tournament MVP, and the team had momentum as a No. 1 seed heading into March Madness.

Jamison continued to shine that junior season, putting up averages of 22.2 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game on the season, both top marks in the ACC. He was first team All-ACC for the third time in three years and a first team consensus All-American.

He was certainly not short on hardware in what would be his final season in a Carolina jersey, winning nearly every individual award in college basketball including the Wooden Award, the Naismith Award and AP Player of the Year.

Perhaps the only knock on Jamison’s career at UNC is that he was never able to lead the Tar Heels to a national championship, though UNC made two Final Four appearances in his sophomore and junior seasons.

Jamison has a resume that stands tall among the Carolina greats with individual accolades few at UNC, in the ACC or even in the country, have ever collected. He was named an ACC Basketball Legend in 2017 and continues to stick around UNC basketball, hosting a camp every summer for children of the community in the Dean Smith Center as his No. 33 jersey hangs in the rafters overhead.

@JDylSmith

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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