It's tradition for former UNC men's basketball players to return to Chapel Hill each summer and play pick-up with the team. But amidst the numerous games of pick-up in Chapel Hill, which saw the likes of Coby White and Cameron Johnson stop by, some pro Tar Heels are having a busy offseason competing in the NBA Summer League, playing for Team USA and navigating new trades.
Here is a look at a few Tar Heels currently in action in the NBA Summer League competition in Las Vegas.
Day’Ron Sharpe started off his career at North Carolina as only the fourth Tar Heel to record a double-double in their debut game. After averaging 9.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game as a first-year, Sharpe declared for the 2021 NBA Draft. The Phoenix Suns drafted Sharpe as the No. 29 overall pick and soon after traded his draft rights to the Brooklyn Nets.
After appearing in 32 games for the Nets this season, Sharpe is playing on their summer league team to gain more experience at the professional level. In his first game this summer, he finished with 8 points and 10 rebounds. Currently, he leads the team in player efficiency rating and total rebounding percentage.
Sharpe also made headlines this week with a poster-worthy dunk in Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
During UNC’s NCAA Tournament run this past season, all eyes were on Brady Manek, the sharp-shooting 6-foot-9 graduate transfer from the University of Oklahoma. Manek averaged just over 15 points per game and led the team in 3-point shooting percentage with a 40.3 percent clip.
After going undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft, Manek stayed close by, signing with the Charlotte Hornets to play on their summer league team. Recently, Manek made a mark in the Hornets’ double-overtime victory against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, shooting 3-9 from the field and scoring 8 points in just 12 minutes.
If Manek continues to perform well in Las Vegas with the Hornets, he could earn a 2-way contract with an NBA team, join an NBA G League team or continue professionally overseas.
In his junior season at UNC, Justin Jackson was named ACC Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American. In the 2017 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers selected the 2017 national champion as the No. 15 overall pick.
Jackson, now signed with the Texas Legends of the G League, made headlines following his performance representing Team USA on the World Cup Qualifying Team. Jackson scored 26 points in Team USA’s 83-75 win over Puerto Rico, tying the USA Men's World Cup Qualifying Team single-game scoring record.
Jackson hasn't slowed down in the NBA Summer League, as his 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting led the Boston Celtics in their 103-92 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.
Although former UNC power forward Garrison Brooks spent his fifth and final year of college eligibility playing for Mississippi State, he had a productive four seasons as a Tar Heel. Brooks ranks in the top 50 in points scored and top 25 in rebounds in UNC program history.
Following the 2022 NBA Draft, Brooks signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the New York Knicks, which allows him to play for New York's summer league team and attend training camp with the Knicks in the fall. If he performs well, Brooks may play professionally for the Knicks’ G League affiliate team next season.
So far, Brooks has played very few minutes for the Knicks, recording just under 6 minutes of play through the Knicks' first three games this summer.