Ex-UNC Coach Reveals Jordan's NC State Fondness Ended Camp Drought

UNC's pivotal moment: The pursuit of young Jordan

by Zain ul Abedin
Ex-UNC Coach Reveals Jordan's NC State Fondness Ended Camp Drought
© Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Sport

Michael Jordan's illustrious NBA career, highlighted by two three-peats with the Chicago Bulls, is widely regarded as one of the pinnacles of basketball achievement. However, his pre-NBA journey was less of a smooth glide and more of a series of challenging layups.

Recently, in an intriguing podcast episode, the former UNC coach divulged previously undisclosed information regarding the recruitment of a young 19-year-old Michael Jordan to the University of North Carolina (UNC).

UNC’s Unexpected Pitch to High Schooler Michael Jordan

Reminiscing about those times, retired UNC coach Roy Allen Williams spoke of a time when UNC's basketball prospects seemed dim. "That year, our summer camp was almost barren," he revealed. "Hence, we embarked on a mission, contacting potential recruits across the state."

It was during this outreach that a pivotal call came from Michael Brown, the athletic director at Hanover County Public Schools. "We've got this young talent at Laney High School who could be extraordinary," he mentioned. Williams took the hint and, while he checked out another prospect in Florida, Coach Gunther was tasked with observing Jordan.

Upon returning, Gunther had an observation. "His game was peppered with long jump shots, but beneath that, there was evident raw talent," he said. 

Following this, Jordan was extended an invite to the UNC camp. Williams, recounting his first impression, stated, "The moment I watched him on the court, I was in awe." His talent was undeniable, and it was after a particular game when Williams approached Jordan, impressed and interested. "How about staying on for the next session?" he asked. Jordan's affirmative response was a turning point.

When asked about his recruitment endeavors, Williams exclaimed, "I've potentially spotted the finest 6-foot-4-inch high school player ever."

The Exceptional Nature of Young Jordan

But what set Jordan apart from his peers at such a young age? According to Williams, it wasn't just his athleticism or his shooting capabilities. "Beyond those attributes, Michael possessed an unmatched tenacity," he explained. Drawing parallels, Williams mentioned, "Coach Smith once compared Tiger Woods and Michael, noting they both had a comprehensive skill set, something even legends like Jack Nicklaus lacked."

The coach further highlighted that Jordan's mindset was already mature beyond his years. A confident young Michael once voiced his ambition to Williams, saying, "I aim to be the finest player North Carolina has ever seen." It was a statement backed by unwavering determination, as he further asserted, "No one will outwork me." And history bears testimony to this claim.

Today, Michael Jordan stands tall as a basketball legend, celebrated for his relentless spirit and unmatched skill. His legacy, a testament to his dedication, continues to ignite the aspirations of countless aspiring athletes worldwide.