In 1961 a thirty-year-old, soft-spoken coach took over a basketball program that had been rocked by accusations and internal concerns regarding recruiting violations and the image of the team. Today that coach has won nearly 80 percent of his games, finished first in the Atlantic Coast Conference 17 times, won 12 ACC Tournament titles, one Olympic gold medal, an NIT trophy, and two NCAA championships. Among the athletes he has put on the court are players named Jordan, Stackhouse, Worthy, Perkins, and Wallace – no fewer than 24 NBA first-round draft choices. And the Dean Smith story – a story of competition, compassion, and basketball genius – is a saga unfolding today: a legend of American sports.
This beautiful volume, illustrated with full-color photographs, is a basketball odyssey of three decades, from Dean Edwards Smith’s first coaching job at the Air Force Academy (with the golf team) to his most recent and 22nd consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. In between are lean years and great years, bitter defeats, stunning victories, and vintage Carolina comebacks as Smith took over the badly shaken Tar Heel program from the legendary Frank McGuire. The Dean’s List will conjure up vivid memories for college hoop fans – such moments as the Tar Heels’ injury-riddled run to the 1977 national title game and heartbreaking loss to Marquette, the fervent battles with archrival Duke, and the incredible NCAA championship victories over Georgetown in 1982 and Michigan in 1993. And here too are the contests waged outside the public eye – recruiting struggles for such players as Tom McMillen, David Thompson, and Phil Ford, as well as the racially charged controversy that surrounded North Carolina’s first black scholarship athlete, Charlie Scott. Away from the court, we see the tough and tender personal qualities that have allowed Dean Smith to run a program beyond reproach and graduate 97 percent of his players.