basketball Edit

Old Foes Meet Again

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Luke Maye and Brandon Robinson will be reacquainted with an opponent from their past Sunday in Columbus. (Jenna Miller, THI)

COLUMBUS, OH – Nearly 3,000 miles separate Chapel Hill and Seattle, and it’s not very often that North Carolina and Washington cross paths on the college sports landscape. But there’s a similarity between the two teams as they prepare to face each other in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

Huskies’ big man Noah Dickerson is from Atlanta and attended Montverde Academy in Florida before heading out west to play in the Pac-12. The connection?

Brandon Robinson and Luke Maye.

“I played with him in a couple of tournaments being in the same AAU program…,” Robinson said. “He’s a really good player, big body down there, can score and rebound the ball very well.”

Robinson is from Douglasville, GA, so he and Dickerson faced each other in high school basketball in the greater Atlanta area. Dickerson, who is now 6-foot-8 and 245 pounds, and Maye squared off many times in their AAU days.

“Brandon Robinson played for the Georgia Stars. He wasn't on my team,” Dickerson said Saturday at Nationwide Arena. “He was on one a couple years younger than me. Luke Maye, when I was a junior, when we were in our last year of AAU, I played his team, like, seven, eight times that whole summer, about seven or eight times. “Our parents talked a lot, got pretty close. Throughout the years, I've always been glad he's been doing his thing at North Carolina. It's been fun to watch.”

Of course the question begged, how did Dickerson do against Maye?

“I guess we'll have to see (Sunday),” Dickerson replied.

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Noah Dickerson (15). (GoHuskies.com)

Dickerson has put together a stellar career at Washington. He’s started 117 games and eclipsed the 1,000-point mark as a junior. He averaged 12.5 points and 8.4 rebounds as a sophomore and a year ago was at 15.5 points and 8.2 rebounds making the All-Pac12 team. This season, Dickerson is averaging 12.5 and 7.5 rebounds.

“He’s a great player (and) has many accolades in the Pac-12,” Maye said. “He’s always somebody who’s given me a good challenge. I’ve enjoyed competing against him going back and forth and I think it will be good to see another exhibition (Sunday).”

Of course, the matchup may be more Garrison Brooks paired with Dickerson, and it’s UNC and Washington. And the Huskies are plenty more aware of all things Carolina than the other way around.

The respect for the blue blood was pretty clear Saturday.

“It's an honor to even have the opportunity to play them,” Washington Coach Mike Hopkins said. “For a coach and for a program that's trying to build it's like a dream come true. You get a chance to play against the best of the best. What's better than that in March Madness time?

And the respect the Heels have for Dickerson and his teammates is quite obvious, as well.

They may be on opposite ends of the country, but Sunday they’ll be on the same court together, and for a few players, it just may seem like old times.