Today State is and has been a middling ACC team for, well, a long time. The Wolfpack has a glorious history though, even if much of it took place decades ago. Everett Case has been gone for nearly 60 years.
Even so, the Pack has put some interesting players in the NBA. Here’s our top five:
- David Thompson
- Kenny Carr
- Thurl Bailey
- Spud Webb
- Nate McMillan
There were some tough choices. We left Tommy Burleson off, and he was solid before injuries took a toll. Tom Gugliotta was close, along with a few others.
But that’s our five.
- Thompson is the greatest player in ACC history and one of the best in professional history. Injuries and addiction were the only things that could stop him.
- Kenny Carr had a very nice career. He was 6-7 and about 200 lbs, which would make him a wing today, but he had a solid game around the basket. A highly respected pro.
- Thurl Bailey went to Utah and stayed there, even after a late career trade to Minnesota. He was often a reserve behind Karl Malone but was part of Utah’s core during his time there. After he retired he went back to Utah, where he remains. He’s also one of the real good guys in the sport.
- When assistant Tom Abatemarco took Jim Valvano to RDU to meet Spudd Webb for the first time, V saw the diminutive 5-6 guard approaching, turned to Abatemarco and said “you’re fired.” It was Valvano humor. Abatemarco had found a great player, as Valvano soon realized. The high-flying Webb went on to the NBA, where he continued to dazzle, even winning the 1986 dunk contest. Trivia: The Atlanta Hawks tried to get permission for him to wear .4 instead of 4. The NBA refused.
- Nate McMillan was not a Hall of Fame player or anything, but he spent his entire career with Seattle, and you have to be well appreciated to do that. His stats were modest but his defense was outstanding. He got to the Finals but unfortunately Michael Jordan and the Bulls had other ideas. Not that it matters for this, but he has become a highly respected NBA coach, currently with Webb’s old team, the Hawks.