The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday February 4th

Tar Heels in the Pros: Three former UNC players thriving ahead of NBA All-Star break

<p>First-year guard Coby White dribbles past a Syracuse defender in the Smith Center on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. White hit a new career high 34 points. UNC beat Syracuse 93-85.</p>
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First-year guard Coby White dribbles past a Syracuse defender in the Smith Center on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. White hit a new career high 34 points. UNC beat Syracuse 93-85.

The North Carolina men’s basketball team has a rich history of representation in the NBA, with former Tar Heels such as Michael Jordan, Rasheed Wallace and Vince Carter continuing their basketball careers in the league.   

With the All-Star break and midway point of the NBA season quickly approaching, here’s a look at how some former Tar Heels are performing.

Harrison Barnes 

Barnes was a prolific scorer at UNC, erupting with 40 points against Clemson in the ACC Tournament during his first season while averaging 16.3 points per game as a Tar Heel.

Barnes recently reached a significant milestone in his NBA career this season with a 29-point performance against the Milwaukee Bucks, which gave him his 10,000th career point in the NBA. Only 54 other active players have reached this milestone.

In his 10th season, Barnes is still scoring at a high level for the Sacramento Kings, whose 18-34 record has them in 13th in the Western Conference. Barnes posted a season-high 36 points in Sacramento’s season-opening win against the Portland Trail Blazers, and his 16.4 points per game makes him the Kings’ second-leading scorer. Barnes is also supplementing his scoring with an average of six rebounds and over two assists per game.

The Kings currently sit 3.5 games out of the Play-In Tournament with 30 games left in the regular season. If Sacramento can manage to make the tournament and then get into the playoffs, it’ll be Barnes’ first time in the playoffs since the 2015-2016 season when he was a member of the 73-win Golden State Warriors. 

Coby White

After missing the first 13 games of the season while recovering from labrum surgery over the summer, Coby White returned to action midway through November against the Los Angeles Lakers. While White had a slow start to the season, he made his presence felt in his fourth game with a 14-point performance in a win against the New York Knicks.

White is averaging 12.8 points per game on 44 percent shooting from the field and 35.8 percent shooting from 3-point range. His production off the bench is playing a key role in the Chicago Bulls’ success this season and their first-place standing in the Eastern Conference.   

White has also filled in for starters DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Alex Caruso while they dealt with injuries and COVID protocols. Barring a massive collapse in the second half of the season, White will play in his first-ever playoffs in the coming months.

Cole Anthony

Despite the Orlando Magic holding the worst record in the NBA, former Tar Heel guard Cole Anthony is improving during his second season after an impressive rookie campaign. 

Anthony’s points, rebounds, assists and steals averages are all higher than last season. His 17.9 points per game lead the Magic and are a five-point improvement upon last season’s average. 

During a 107-100 win against the Utah Jazz, Anthony registered one of the best nights of his young NBA career by scoring 33 points on 13-20 shooting from the field and 5-10 shooting from 3-point range. He also contributed three steals and two blocks while only committing two turnovers in 32 minutes of action.

Anthony’s improved play earned him a trip to Cleveland to compete in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 18. Although his team isn’t playing well, Anthony continues the rich history of successful Tar Heels in the NBA while being one of the league’s top budding talents.

@coopermetts 

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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