There’s no question that the North Carolina Tar Heels are among the best college basketball programs of all-time. Over the years, Chapel Hill has become one long conveyor belt of elite talent. Of course, we all know there’s a difference between a great college player and a great pro player. Plenty of elite North Carolina players have fallen flat in the professional ranks. But let’s focus on the players who made the seamless transition as we rank the best NBA players to come out of North Carolina.
5. Antawn Jamison
After three amazing seasons in Carolina blue, Jamison spent 16 seasons in the NBA. By his third NBA season, he was a full-time starter and averaged close to 25 points per game.
Of course, he came off the bench for Dallas during the 2003-04 campaign, winning Sixth Man of the Year honors. When all was said and done, Jamison was a two-time All-Star and averaged 18.5 points per game over 16 NBA seasons.
4. James Worthy
As a national champion and the Most Outstanding Player in the 1982 Final Four, there are few UNC players as accomplished as Worthy. He also had plenty of great days in the NBA and is mentioned among the 50 greatest players of all-time. While he only played 12 seasons (all with the Lakers), Worthy made the most of his time.
He was an All-Star seven times and helped the Lakers win three NBA titles, earning Finals MVP in the last championship season in 1988. Over his 12 seasons, Worthy averaged over 17 points and five rebounds per game during his NBA career.
3. Bob McAdoo
While McAdoo played just one season at North Carolina, he made the Tar Heels proud with an outstanding 14 seasons in the NBA. He won Rookie of the Year in 1973 and then proceeded to make the All-Star Team in five straight seasons, winning MVP in 1975 as well.
McAdoo led the NBA in scoring in three of his first four seasons, averaging over 30 points per game all three years. Later in his career, he was a part of two championship teams with the Lakers, playing a role in the famous Showtime era.
2. Vince Carter
Longevity counts for a lot, and Carter definitely had plenty of that, playing 22 seasons in the NBA across four different decades before retiring in 2020. Of course, that was after helping North Carolina to two Final Fours. He began his career by winning Rookie of the Year honors, and over his 22 NBA seasons, Carter dazzled fans with highlight-reel dunks while being selected to eight All-Star Teams. After playing more than 1,500 games over 22 seasons, Carter still averaged over 16 points per game throughout a spectacular and unprecedented pro career.
1. Michael Jordan
Needless to say, nobody was ever going to finish ahead of Jordan. At UNC, he hit the game-winning shot in the National Championship Game as a freshman and was an All-American in his two other seasons.
Until another player can carry his team to two separate three-peats and win NBA MVP more than five times, Jordan will be the greatest of all-time, not to mention the best player to come out of North Carolina.