Create

“When I went to practice, I saw Sam Perkins, Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan ... I can’t be thinking they’re better than me” - Kenny "The Jet" Smith on his decision to play for North Carolina

Kenny "The Jet" Smith chose to play for UNC over its rival Duke.
Kenny "The Jet" Smith chose to play for UNC over its rival Duke.

Kenny "The Jet" Smith explained why he chose to play for the North Carolina Tar Heels during his NCAA basketball career.

Choosing a college basketball program is a significant part of many players' careers. While modern players tend to limit their time in college or skip it altogether, classic players spent critical developmental years in college.

Before deciding to play for UNC, Smith knew he wanted to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The ACC was and is one of the most powerful conferences in college basketball. The talent in the ACC and at UNC was tremendous and factored into Smith's decision.

Here's what Smith said:

"I always wanted to play in the ACC at the time. That was when the conference, to me, the ACC was the best conference. I wanted to play against the best, but I chose North Carolina because when I went to practice, I saw Sam Perkins, Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan."

Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins were picked third and fourth, respectively, in the 1984 NBA draft. Brad Daugherty became the No. 1 pick in 1986, further highlighting UNC's talent at the time.

The noteworthy talent did not immediately convince Smith to join North Carolina. In fact, Smith was nervous about playing with and against such high-level players. He recalled:

"I looked at that and said, 'I don't know if I can play here.' I was a little nervous. I had never seen a 7-footer like they had. They had 10 McDonald's All-Americans on the team at one time."

Despite being nervous, Smith ultimately chose UNC.

youtube-cover

Kenny Smith almost chose the North Carolina Tar Heels' greatest rivals

Kenny Smith almost chose to play for the Duke Blue Devils over the UNC Tar Heels.
Kenny Smith almost chose to play for the Duke Blue Devils over the UNC Tar Heels.

On the "All The Smoke" podcast, Kenny Smith revealed that he almost joined the North Carolina Tar Heels' rivals, the Duke Blue Devils.

Smith said:

"I said, 'I know I can go to Duke and play,' but I said, 'I gotta go here.' I can't be there thinking they're better than me."
The great rivalries in college basketball, ranked:1. North Carolina vs. Duke2. Indiana vs. Purdue3. Bo Boroski vs. Brad Davison

Smith did well with his choice.

Smith, a consensus All-American in 1987, helped UNC to two Elite Eight and one Sweet 16 appearances in his three seasons. Smith's No. 30 is honored by hanging in the rafters at the school.

Smith was drafted sixth in 1987 and played for six franchises in 10 NBA seasons, winning two championships with the Houston Rockets.

Poll : Should Kenny 'The Jet' Smith have chosen Duke instead of North Carolina?

Yes

No

297 votes

Quick Links

Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh
Be the first one to comment