Missouri: Tyler Hansbrough
One could make a clear case that Tyler Hansbrough is the greatest North Carolina basketball player of all time based solely on his achievements as Tar Heels.
He’s as decorated as anyone in the program’s history and remains the Tar Heels’ all-time leader in scoring (2,872 points) and rebounds (1,219). In fact, he’s the ACC’s all-time leading scorer.
The Poplar Bluff, MO, native set the UNC scoring mark less than a week before Christmas in 2008 during a Carolina win over visiting Evansville.
Hansbrough was more comfortable talking about the team than himself when he was a Tar Heel, but he admitted following the record-setting night his thought process was a bit different going into that game.
“I'm usually not nervous before games, and I was a little nervous before tonight just because I felt like there was a lot of pressure,” he said that night. “One thing for me, I didn't want us to strictly focus on trying to break a scoring record. We had a game and I was trying to do whatever I could to help the team.”
His Hall of Fame coach regularly gushed about Hansbrough, notably what made him so successful. His inner drive had few peers.
“He works so dadgum hard every second he’s on the court,” UNC Coach Roy Williams said during Hansbrough’s senior season. “He has a tremendous drive to succeed, and he does what he can to be successful.”
Winning is something the Tar Heels did a whole lot of during Hansbrough’s four years in Chapel Hill. The Heels went 124-22, won three ACC regular season championships, two ACC Tournament titles, advanced to a pair of Final Fours winning the national championship during his senior season in 2009.
Hansbrough is the only ACC player ever named first-team All-ACC four times as well as first-team All-America four times. He was the 2008 National Player of the Year, 2008 ACC Player of the Year, 2008 NCAA East Region MVP and 2008 ACC Tournament MVP.
He averaged 20.2 points and 8.6 rebounds in 142 games for UNC shooting 53.6 percent from the field. He still holds the NCAA career record for most free throws made with 982. He’s third all-time at UNC posting 47 career double-doubles, scored in double figures (133 times) more than anyone else in UNC history and he’s 11th at UNC with 180 career steals and tied for the second most steals in a game with eight.
Hansbrough set the ACC record for career 20-point games and the ACC record for career double-figure games with 133. He helped Carolina to a 50-14 record in ACC regular season play, 8-2 in the ACC Tournament and 14-3 in the NCAA Tournament. He also led UNC to three regular season ACC titles and led the Tar Heels to a 4-0 record at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. Hansbrough’s jersey No. 50 is retired.
"I think, with me, that he'll be the standard that I will always compare people (to) when it comes to focus and work ethic," Williams said a few years ago. "That's the thing that I'll take away from his career: the success he's had and how focused he was and how hard he worked."
Professionally, Hansbrough was drafted No. 13 overall in the 2009 NBA draft and played seven seasons in the NBA, with his best year coming in his second campaign. He averaged 11 points and 5.2 rebounds that season. For his career, Hansbrough scored 2,881 points (6.7 average) and grabbed 1,808 rebounds (4.2 average).
Hansbrough currently plays professionally in China.