Home » Featured » Currently Reading:

Part 1

January 16, 2002 Featured No Comments

The Junior Tar Heels – Part 1

by Dan Hauptman

The baby blue uniforms have “North Carolina” written in white on the players’ chests, but this is not the legendary team that has won four championships and advanced to 15 Final Fours. The backs of the hand-me-down uniforms don’t even have the names of the players on them, leaving only the friends and family members of the hoopsters to distinguish one from the others. That is appropriate because the majority of the smattering of fans in the Smith Center are there for one reason: they are either related to or friends of the players on the home Tar Heels or the visiting opponents.

For this Carolina basketball squad, the season opens with a minuscule amount of fanfare. There is no band playing, no cheerleaders flipping, and barely any fans sitting in the predominantly blue arena. The junior varsity men’s basketball team begins another season playing as the opening act for the much more famous University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill varsity squad.

Junior varsity games begin three hours prior to the varsity contests. This year, as is the case every year, all 12 JV games are played at the spacious Smith Center. The Dean Dome has never looked as empty during a game as it looks when the non-scholarship, primarily underclassmen, junior varsity players roam the court in front of a maximum crowd of a few hundred viewers. There is no problem for the players hearing the coaching advice from head coach Doug Wojcik, as there is very little noise in the historic arena besides the sounds of pure basketball being played on the floor.

The University of North Carolina is a very rare Division I school that boasts a junior varsity team. As a result, the schedule is comprised of a few prep schools – mostly those with recruited players on them – as well as post-graduate high schools and JV teams from Division II and III schools in North Carolina. The team does not belong to any conference, has no chance of playing in any sort of postseason tournament, and according to Wojcik and many of his players, the club’s biggest rivals are two military academies, Fork Union and Hargrave.

“The junior varsity team at Carolina has been a tradition for many years,” said Wojcik, who is in his second year coaching of the team. “With 80 percent of students at UNC from North Carolina, it is another way for them to continue their basketball careers past high school. It’s not a feeder program in the sense that it is going to help us win at the varsity level. It’s more for the kids and the opportunity to continue to play basketball.”

In addition to coaching the JV team, Wojcik is in his second year as an assistant coach for the varsity team. His duties for the varsity team consist of coordinating the recruiting as well as scouting opponents and prospects. Wojcik has a lot more power at the JV level, as he has the final say on all matters dealing with his 14-player team.

“It’s a lot of fun coaching the team,” said the 37-year-old coach. “It’s a great experience for me. It’s phenomenal. I get to call timeouts; I get to go through practice. There are long days, but it’s still good for me.”

The JV program is further enriched by the fact that at least one player per year is usually promoted to the varsity squad. On the 2001-2002 North Carolina varsity team, there are three players that previously played junior varsity basketball at the university. Sophomores Phillip McLamb and Damien Price both made the team after playing for Wojcik last season.

“By playing for the junior varsity team, there is always the possibility of someday making the varsity team, like two kids from last year’s team did this year,” Wojcik said. “Based on them (McLamb and Price) playing last year, I recommended them to initially start practicing with the varsity team because we were short on personnel. Their physicals from last year and the fact that they competed last year made them eligible to play right away. At the time we didn’t know they would make the varsity team. They did really well and so now they are staying on varsity and helping us out.”

The third varsity walk-on this year, senior Joe Everett, followed his older brother Jim’s footsteps and advanced to the varsity level after spending two years playing junior varsity basketball. Jim Everett graduated in 2001 after playing two years on the junior varsity team and two years on the varsity squad. A third Everett brother, Charlie, is a freshman forward on the JV club.

“This has been a great ride for the whole family, especially Charlie,” said Jim Everett Sr., who drives from Charlotte to all of his sons’ games. “He is the youngest and has been hanging around his brothers while they have played JV and varsity basketball the last few years. It has been a lot of fun for all involved. The players are treated great and are worked very hard. It is also a great experience for the opponents. They get to play North Carolina at the Dean Dome.”

In addition to the lure of possibly running out of the tunnel as a varsity basketball player, there are other perks that entice students to participate in the unique Carolina junior varsity program.

“I think a lot of them have always dreamed of wearing a North Carolina uniform,” Wojcik said. “They get to practice in the finest basketball arena in the country, they get to play three hours before varsity games, and they get tickets to varsity games. There are plenty of incentives.”

The current junior varsity team wears jerseys that varsity players wore about five years ago. In addition to suiting up in an outfit undoubtedly worn on a grand stage by a former Tar Heel, each JV player also receives two tickets in the student section to the varsity games, Nike sneakers and clothes and other more abstract rewards.

“The first reason I play is to wear North Carolina on my chest. I also just really love basketball,” sophomore center Bryan Bell said. “I have loved it since I was little and I wanted to pursue it and hopefully go onto varsity next year. This is a good stepping stone.”

Freshman forward C.J. Hooker agrees: “Wearing the Carolina uniform and stepping out in the Dean Dome; there is no greater feeling. It’s like a dream come true. When I was a kid I always wanted to come here and put on the uniform. When we first put them on in the locker room, we were all speechless.”

On to Part 2


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about big road wins for a few teams, including a couple of bluebloods that looked destined for losses, as well as an unsettled Big Ten beyond one team, an SEC where you shouldn’t pay attention to bracketologists, and the problems with a proposed earlier start to the college basketball season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 11, 2018

January 11, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about several big pieces of news away from game play, one of which puts a lot in perspective. We also talk about the lack of dominant teams and how this has shown up in the results, especially this past weekend.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 4, 2018

January 4, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with a big game in the Big East, then move on to the sudden lack of undefeated teams, a big injury in the ACC, and a powerhouse that looks vulnerable in a stacked conference they have long ruled.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – December 8, 2017

December 8, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a bizarre finish to an early-season tournament game, the Pac-12’s early struggles, Florida teams going in different directions and two northeast teams trending less relevant even as they excite fans at a famous arena.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 22, 2017

November 22, 2017 by

In our pre-Thanksgiving podcast, we look at a key injury that is likely to be devastating for his team and an under-the-radar 4-0 week, then move on to some early SEC impressions and a couple of teams that just continue to win.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.