Kenny Smith told us to watch out for UNC last season. It wasn’t a reach because The Jet is one of the best point guards in UNC history and is an unapologetic supporter of his school. He was sure UNC could get to the title game but he was also leery of sleeper teams with dope veteran guards like Indiana with Yogi Ferrell (Dallas Mavericks).
“I think North Carolina will have a great run,” Smith said at the time. “ They're probably the best team overall, top to bottom, because they have size, mobile size who can defend the perimeter. They don’t have any guys that are like stiffs."
He should have mentioned Nova up in there, but when I asked him about Jay Wright's Wildcats this was Smith’s response:
"Who would you say is a surefire pro on any of those teams?...(silence)...That’s the problem. That’s what’s missing. They get a lot of really good players, but they don’t have the guy that you look at and say, ‘Oh he’s a seven or 10-year pro.’ They are missing the element of a guy that can in 40 minutes say, ‘I’ll give you 32 tonight.' He might not give you 32 every night, but he's going to give it to you tonight."
That was a clear shot at Josh Hart, who ultimately proved Smith dead wrong last season. You think Kenny would have learned his lesson.
With a year under their belt, Smith thinks this could be the season the Tar Heels get back to the top of the March Madness heap.
I had my annual hoops convo with the Queens legend, basketball analyst and reality show personality at a recent March Madness Media day held by CBS and Turner Sports.
“I’m a North Carolina guy," Smith said. "I’m always going to look for my Tar Heels. I’m also following Florida State because one of their kids Jonathan Isaac played with my son in high school (IMG Academy). Also, Wisconsin because a kid from Wisconsin also played with my son in high school; a backup point guard named D’Mitrik Trice."
Not a mention of the defending champs and their NBA lottery pick senior who can get 30 in his sleep?
Maybe Hart would get some love in the Player of the Year talk.
"That’s tough. Ball out in UCLA was terrific, but he had a lot of help," Smith said. "People underestimate his teammates, but Ball is exciting to watch."
It's obvious that Smith won't give any props to a team that defeated his beloved Tar Heels in shocking fashion on a last second shot by Kris Jenkins in last year's national championship game.