Friday, October 21st, 2011 at 1:04 pm  |  71 responses

SLAM 153: On Sale Now!

What Lockout? It’s time to watch Harrison Barnes and UNC do their thing.

by David Cassilo / @dcassilo

portraits by Atiba Jefferson / @atibaphoto

I’ll admit it, Carolina fans. When I drove down to Chapel Hill from Washington, DC, to write the cover story, I had to make a pit stop in Durham. I had to see Cameron. I was too much of a college basketball junkie not to check it out.

I double parked the car, put the blinkers on and then walked inside the arena. I roamed the court, sat in the bleachers and ogled the trophy case.

After about 30 minutes there, I jumped back in the car and drove to Chapel Hill. I perused the campus bookstore (there are Carolina-blue Jordan slippers for babies!), lost myself in the basketball museum and then reached the Smith Center.

That building deserves its own paragraph. The numbers hanging from the rafters are a who’s who of college basketball. And being surrounded by that shade of blue—I can only assume that is similar to the blue in heaven. UNC Tar Heels

You see things are different in North Carolina. College basketball is religion. Mark my words: I’m probably the last person in the state to have said heaven has Carolina-blue (or Duke-blue for those fans further north).

Lockout or no lockout, we needed to put North Carolina on the cover this year. This is the team to watch in the year to watch college basketball. There won’t be any Butler and VCU miracle runs this year. The Cinderellas are dead. The powerhouses are back.

Where are your pros for the 2011-12 season? They are playing college basketball.

Need a public enemy No. 1 like LeBron James and the Miami Heat to root for? Set your sights on Austin Rivers and Duke.

Kevin Durant and the OKC Thunder more your type? Try the young guns down in Kentucky led by Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

How about the old school smoothness of Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs? Watch Jared Sullinger work in the paint for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

And then there’s those Tar Heels. They are your Los Angeles Lakers, fully equipped with the history, the legendary coach (Roy Williams), the star (Harrison Barnes) and the all-league type player at every position.

Just two seasons removed from the NIT, the Tar Heels are back atop the NCAA as the season is set to begin. Barnes, John Henson, Kendall Marshall, Dexter Strickland and Tyler Zeller could be the most electrifying starting lineup since the Fab Five. This team is that good.

Is the national title a formality? The field is too good this year to hand anyone the trophy, but I will say this much: When I finished my initial draft for this article it came out to be 2012 words. Strange coincidence or just another reason to think they’ll be cutting the nets next March?

Watch them, and you’ll understand why college basketball is such a big deal in North Carolina. It’s only fitting that the Tar Heels are on the cover to start this season because this is the season you’ll get a chance to feel the same way about college basketball as their fans do.

Have fun.

Ed’s Note: We’re good, huh? OF COURSE we’d rather the lockout be over, but we’re also pretty proud that we plotted this cover about six weeks ago and it drops today?! Reminds you that we know what we’re doing. Besides the college game, which we cover thoroughly in this issue with the UNC cover story, pieces on Ashton Gibbs, Jared Sullinger and profiles of both the top-five freshmen to watch and a Sweet 16 of other collegians you must see play this year, the best thing basketball has had going for it during these dark days is the shoe companies. Much like adidas helped us rock with Derrick Rose last month (still coppable in most of America, so get it if you haven’t!), this month’s issue boasts great, detailed stories and interviews with Carmelo Anthony (h/t Jordan Brand) and John Wall (h/t Reebok). There’s also a Jrue Holiday feature, an Impact League feature, lengthy and informative stories on Robert Traylor and Muggsy Bogues, exciting high school players and all sorts of dope sneaker coverage. Oh, and you know Shawn Bradley’s in there, too. *Sigh.*—Ben Osborne

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  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Yes x 1,000,0000

  • Zack

    LMAO @ Dexter Strickland being on the front. He’s the second coming of Quintin Thomas. That being said… LETS GO HEELS!!!

  • Dany

    OMG nice cover…

  • http://slamonline.com David Cassilo

    I had a blast doing the story. It was as much fun as that cover.

  • Confususs

    Filthy cover. This is the year UNC returns to the top. Also, Barnes = athleticism of Iguodala with scoring ability of Kobe.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    I’m as much a fan of college bball as I am the NBA…as I am high school hoops.
    So this is just lovely for me.
    Just one gripe – wish y’all had put James McAdoo on the cover instead of Dexter Strickland.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/farmer-jones/ Ryan Jones

    This is great.

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    Loving the Cool Greys.
    On another note, if there is one prospect in the upcoming draft the Raptors NEED, it’s Harrison Barnes. Let’s go!

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    Oh and co-sign Enigmatic on the James McAdoo tip. Y’all forgot him! A lot of people have Barnes and McAdoo as the top SF’s in college ball! Crazy how they’re both on the same team.

  • http://slamonline.com Susan Price

    @ Enigmatic and niQ: We wanted McAdoo, too, but UNC rules prohibit freshmen players from shoots/interviews until the first semester ends.

  • http://dodgers.com Joey E.

    fck college ball, but nice cover

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Thanks for clearing that up, Susan.
    I’m excited to watch him, I’ll be rooting for McAdoo extra-hard cause kid’s from Norfolk, VA, one of my old stomping grounds.

  • http://slamonline.com AlbertBarr

    Susan and the rest of the slam creative team: Money cover as always!

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    Ooh, never knew that. Ah wells, still can’t wait to get this ish in the mail!

  • woosky

    “LMAO @ Dexter Strickland being on the front. He’s the second coming of Quintin Thomas. That being said… LETS GO HEELS!!!” @Zack What does that mean? If leaving with a national championship, multiple acc championships, most wins in carolina history oh not to mention a degree from UNC. So if all of those things come with being “the second coming of Quentin Thomas” not a bad thing to be striving for. It’s not like he’s going to be the second coming of Zack.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Cover’s an 11

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Was this NCAA rule in place prior to the 2007-2008 college basketball season?
    I only ask because I remember seeing Derrick Rose on the cover of another magazine that summer.
    Then again, according to the NCAA, Derrick Rose doesn’t exist so it doesn’t matter anyways, I suppose.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Kentucky is better.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    … and so is the cover story, DC!

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    JTaylor – no.
    No team can match UNC’s combination of talent, depth, experience, speed, and size.
    Of course, no one’s ever a lock to win it all, but UNC deserves to be ranked number 1.

  • http://slamonline.com Susan Price

    @ Enigmatic: Each school has their own rules.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    @ Susan – Oh, ok, I’m sorry, I misread your initial comment and thought you had said it was an NCAA rule, not a team rule.
    Must be Friday…
    Thanks again for clearing that up, and for all you and everyone else does for us die-hard SLAM heads!

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Enigmatic, Ok. Who does NC have to match Teague’s speed and quickness on the perimeter? Who does NC have to match Jones’ strength and size on the perimeter? Who does NC have to match ADavis’ quickness and skills on the block? I do agree that NC has the advantage up front but Kentucky has the advantage on the perimeter and brought back 3 cats that played a vital role on last season’s final four team.

  • Heals

    In my opinion: Visually/color scheme = A+, UNC the team = Overrated *clap* *clap* *clap, clap, clap*. Their squad is always hyped out the a$$ going into the Fall, but often struggles to win a down ACC…

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    UNC is so filthy

  • jarrett

    this is dope

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    JTaylor – Well, first of all Teague > any PG on UNC, I’ll give you that.
    But when Teague takes a breather, who takes his spot?
    The talent dropoff will be significant.
    UNC is much deeper at the 1 and 2.
    PJ Hairston, Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald, Reggie Bullock.
    UK ain’t effin’ with that.
    Barnes and McAdoo will match up well with Jones and Kidd-Gilchrist. Jones, at 250 pounds, definitely has the strength advantage but UNC can hang with UK there too.
    Henson is 6’11″ and a dominant shot blocker, he’d match up well with Davis.
    And after this hypothetical game, hopefully the two of them could go eat somewhere and put some damn weight on…
    Then there’s Tyler Zeller.
    Besides UNC’s depth, Zeller is what would beat out UK.
    He would outmuscle Davis and be too quick and too tall for Jones.
    Dude’s a 7’0″ gazelle.
    A potential matchup nightmare.

  • D. Walden

    Did you guys forget P.J. Hairston? He is a force to be reckoned with. You better look out for him, because he’s coming!! The bench is stacked with great talent! Go Tarheels!

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Enigmatic, I agree with you on TZeller. The boy is going to be the deciding factor on whether or not UNC wins the championship. Also LMcDonald tore his ACL during one of those summer games, so he’s out indefinitely. Remember UK also has another top recruit (Wiltjer) coming off the bench along with Lamb. UNC is the deeper team but when it comes down to tournament time, the best players are usually on the floor 85-90% of the time.

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    Y’all also forgot about Kyle Wiltjer. Don’t sleep on him.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Wiltjer won’t get enough playing time to make an impact.
    Davis, Jones, Kidd-Gilchrist are gonna eat up most of the minutes up front, and I think Calipari is gonna want Eloy Vargas to play the Joey Dorsey/DeMarcus Cousins/Josh Harrellson role of being a strong inside presence.

  • MLK4Life

    Dexter Strickland is on the cover most likely because he’s in the starting 5. No need to mess with that core group. UNC is the best team in the country, without question. NBA talent. Depth. Chemistry. Great coach. If they stay healthy, they’ll be cutting down the nets in April.

  • 84tarheel

    Made my day! Reminds me of the ’82 SI cover, but no worries of a jinx. It’s going to be a fun year.

  • http://slamonline.com UKTAT7>5

    UNC had experience and depth on us last year and we all know how that turned out in the elite 8. UNC definitely has depth and experience this year but we have a little experience to go with an ungodly amount of talent. Should be a great game but UNC fans have their heads in the sand (again) if they think UK can’t whoop that ass for ‘em.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    The one team everyone needs to watch out for is Baylor. Those guys have the athleticism and talent to beat anyone (QMill, DBello, PJones, QAcy, AJones).

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Baylor is gonna be FUN to watch.
    A potential dunk contest every night on the court.
    BUT they underachieved badly last year.
    I do think losing Dunn was addition by subtraction though.
    Dude was allergic to passing.

  • golakeshow


  • frank

    ^^^ quit trolling
    exciting season for college hoops in any case!

  • Tyler

    Can i buy a copy of this on this website? To be mailed to me?

  • http://Aol QG

    There will b many 120point nigjts from these five…the favorite…of course…QG

  • mike

    Lots of love for this cover, but mixed reviews for the red issue? crazy.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jahmai

    It’s not going to fix the NBA lockout, but I’m still really exited for college basketball. Fantastic cover Slam and I’m looking forward to reading it. Harrison Barnes really came into his own in the 2nd half of last season after starting out a little tough because of all the hype.

  • Dustin

    UNC was not that deep and experienced last yr either. They were young in some positions too. The only reason Kentucky won last year is bc of an amazing game put up by Knight. Probably his best game all season. I mean UK couldnt get past a mediocre Uconn team. Given they were playig their best basketball at the right time. Im not saying Carolina is a lock for 2012 bc anything can happen, but one thing is for sure. I cant wait for this year, and I especially cant wait for that UNC vs UK game

  • Heels fan

    People saying they wished other players were on the cover sound dumb.. They put the STARTERS on it

  • Crystal

    If John Henson wouldn’t have gotten those ticky tacky fouls in the game against UK, then UNC would’ve have won that game. It seems like the refs favored the senior UK senior and gave him so calls. UNC, overall, has been a very young team the last 2 years. We only got one senior in Zeller this year. But what they’ve been through the last 2 years is going to make them an extra tough team. To the people sleeping on Strickland, you’re making a huge mistake. He has tremendous athleticism and speed. He’s going to be one of the most exciting players in the game this year. UNC is tremendously deep team people are also forgetting about Bullock and Hairston.

  • Yesse

    I really like the cover and the title of the article. What do we really have to worry about with the Nba lockout going on? There is college ball, euroleague (possibly fearuting some nbaers), Drew League and the other small leagues in USA too.

  • blacksupes

    Too all that really know basketball ….Everyone on UNC team has shown they can do it by getting to the elite 8 but we talking bout UK freshmen as if they proved it on this lvl! Barnes came in the top player in the nation but he even had a time too adjust to the college lvl of play.

    Until they play early this year all we know is UNC is the better team!

    Ppl please don’t hate on dexter either ! Dude we be in beast mode this year! From what I’m hearing big MAC is going through the same thing Barnes did….

  • unc2much

    People overlook strickland b/c of his shooting but he is the fastest guy in the starting lineup. this is what he gives unc. we dont need him to score but when he takes off, he is gone. Marshall is a smooth lefty who runs a fast break better than anyone, he will have his number of t/o’s but he will get it to the shooters. Mac could start for ANY other college team in america but he is coming off the bench! THE BENCH! Bullock will be back and healthy. He is unc’s best deep threat. PJ is a BEAST! goes strong to the rim and can shoot from anywhere in the gym. Hubert is a Henson wanna be. skinny and long, will block shots but will get muscled out alot. Barnes is and will be the best college player in america this year. He is a leader and will take over games. Z is the best big man in college, runs like a guard, can shoot midrange jummpers, hook shot, shoot free throws, etc. Henson is a fly swatter, GUMBY, the new PLASTIC Man, whatever you want to call him, best defender in college. Mcdonald could be back by january if he doesnt red shirt. UNC is a strong 10 deep. 8 were McDonald All America’s

  • UNC Fan

    Let’s all be clear here. Dexter Strickland is a shut down player who will be an important piece to our run for a national championship. He also has the ability to drive in the lane through contact with his speed. I’m tired of people underrating this guy. The man is a straight baller. Can’t wait to see this squad play this year. GO HEELS!!

  • Brevis Junell

    Brevis here. Brevis Junell. Lots of lovings for these Heels. Heels I have many affections for many years. Brevis loves Heels.

  • DSGreene

    UNC NATION BABY …….f*@k UK………….Dec 3rd , we gonna wax that ass …….TARHEELS for life ….UNC 2012 Champs, UK 2012 Chumps

  • DSGreene

    Everybody is sleeping on BULLOCK ……He is gonna Beast this yr…along with the rest of UNC

  • Chip

    The Tar Heels and New Orleans have a great history together (’82 and ’93 c’ships, ’nuff said). And I can’t wait for 2012 March Madness to begin.

    McAdoo being left out: did Roy Williams employ the old Dean Smith rule of freshmen not being allowed to talk to the media (or even grace the cover, as what MJ had back in ’81)? Curious.

    Nonetheless, No NBA? NO PROBLEM! Gonna be a great college hoops season…with UNC cutting down the nets in New Orleans next year! WOOHOO!!! GO HEELS! UNC ALL THE WAY!!!

  • JSMoore

    To all you UK fans talkin smack, HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN SINCE YOU WERE RELEVANT ??? Go ahead and get the #1 recruiting class, # of picks in NBA. Hey, congrats on that. And that has got you how many titles??? You are not relevant, nor have you been relevant for a LONG TIME. UK sux. :)

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    UNC all day every day

  • hillbilly

    @JSMoore Don’t forget to have that Super Absorbent Roy Williams Cryin’ Towel (TM) handy on 12-3-11. Or, to quote Ol’ Roy himself, “Goldangit! Them boys played horrrd. They played real horrrd and we ain’t got nuthin’ to be ashamed of…booooo-hooo-hooo-hooo-hooo!” (Roy Williams is a blubbering poo-say) GO BIG BLUE!!!

  • youknow

    Jumping on the bandwagon early aren’t we.

  • marc

    I think college basketball fans are worst then nba fans lol. With that being said why is everyone hating on dexter strickland? He is a good defender and a starter for a reason. Can’t wait for the college season to start.

  • Jordan

    @golakeshow…you’re an idiot!!! Most basketball lovers watch college and NBA, you wouldnt have any NBA to watch if it werent for the guys that come out of college. The only thing to watch during NBA reg. season is highlights… now the playoffs a different story! Now to all of the UK fans drinkin the hatorade…i dont wanna talk trash before the season starts, but yall are always hyped up just like every elite school in the nation that has great recruits or a good previous season to reflect and build on. So while UK might have more national championships…how many have most of you UK fans seen? One more thing if were judging the best in the nation on championships like i hear all the time (from UK) then its UCLA, But if were gonna base the best on everything that a school has accomplished including national championships then its UNC! Get one more thing straight…Basketball in the TARHEEL state is religion! So whether the banner is hung where it belongs (chapel hill a.k.a HEAVEN ON EARTH), or in durham..CAROLINA knows basketball!

  • jayb

    love how carolina is all rockin the cool grey xi..very cool. i am more a space jam and concord fan but very cool nonetheless!

  • Jarmir Smith

    I honestly have 2 say these past 2 issues have made me resubscribe 2 SLAM!!! Yall keep it up!!!

  • Nikkolys@night

    Time for another NCAA Championship ‘Heels. Lissgo!!!

  • http://slamonline.com UKTAT7>5

    Crystal, there are always weak ass fans like you that scream if this…if that…well if my aunt had a dick she’d be my uncle, too. So, take the ass whipping in the tourney and the one in Rupp coming up and just hope you get another shot at us in this year’s tourney. UNC fans are funny to me, said the same crap last year and we see what happened when push came to shove at the most important time of the year. Go Cats!

  • carolinagrl71

    LOVE this cover & why the hating on Strickland….he’s a great defensive guard & is going to surprise a lot of ya’ll who’s dissing him. A lot of people gave Danny Green a hard time but he’s the one who gave UNC the edge when the stars failed to shine! My boy Dex has some mad athletic skills & can get on up there & hang with the best!! Watch him make some BIG plays this year! GO HEELS!!!!!!!!!!

  • determined fury

    i should lol. syke. what great season its gonna be.Walker #15

  • http://www.scribblesoffury.com Bainbridge Wright

    I’m looking forward to this issue of SLAM more than any in recent memory. I’m a huge fan of the magazine, but cover subjects have been a bit predictable the past couple of years. Good to see some college players get more shine.

  • Bruce Leroy

    Anyone know where I can buy this? It says it’s on sale, but everyone around me either is sold out/doesn’t sell Slam or is selling issue #152 still.

  • Dre

    JTaylor21 as good as Jones is he can not handle Barnes. Teague can get up and down the floor but Kendall trumps him with basketball IQ and game control. Henson handles Davis and no one can on Kentucky can handle Davis. Kentucky is really good but UNC has them in talent from top to bottom. Also in the tourney the bench counts for more because many times a talented bench can by the starting 5 some good breathing minutes. UNC is #1 and deserves to be on the front.

  • BeatDuke

    Anyone who thinks Dexter Strickland is the second coming of Quentin Thomas knows nothing about basketball, Strickland is way better than Thomas, no know to Thomas, he put in his time at UNC and helped us win games, learn the game instead of just talking…

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  • http://slamonline joel

    cool, just subscribed!