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The Best(ish) Players by Uni Number for North Carolina

Out latest “best by uni number” graphic comes from reader Drew Glover, who provides the following bit of context for his Tar Heel State project:

I included college and professional sports, and also NASCAR (because North Carolina).

The research made this project a lot of fun. How else would I have found out that Digital NC has hundreds of scanned university yearbooks?

My player choices were extremely biased, and the graphic is intentionally titled “Athletes by the Number” — not “Best Athletes” — because I definitely made some aesthetic decisions for the good of the overall composition. I also created a spreadsheet, in case you’re curious about some of the choices.

From an aesthetic standpoint, I really love all the different shades of blue, and the various non-blue colors provide some nice visual counterpoints.

As usual, I’ll let others quibble with the player choices (although it seems like Drew has already pre-empted some of them by admitting up front that he’s not claiming these to be the “best” players).

If you want to see more “Best Players by Uni Number” graphics, look here.

Comments (36)

    Awesome! That one is great! I totally agree with making decisions by aesthetics at times! These graphics are cool looking.

    My Twitter feed finally finished our three-month process of voting on Nebraska high school athletes by number. I’ll send that one in once I have a little time on my holiday break!

    #17 is a tough one between Philip Rivers (NC State) and Rod Brind-Amour, but I think he made the right choice by choosing the captain of the only pro team in North Carolina sports history to win a championship…

    I think you made the wrong choice.

    Also you chose the wrong NC State #9. Mario Williams > Bradley Chubb

    The Hurricanes aren’t the only NC pro team to win a championship, the Courage have won two NWSL championships.

    Second, speaking of the Courage, surely Debinha is a way better choice for No. 10? Full Brazilian international, has been a part of every Courage season and won all the trophies. I’m not the target audience but I would not have recognized Earl Harvey as No. 10 in a million years without the spreadsheet to help.

    I appreciate that Mia Hamm is there but since there are so many college players in this one, I’ll point out there’s also a ton more notable Carolina women’s soccer alumni to choose from.

    Thanks for the suggestion! I found that putting this together quickly hit my sports knowledge limits. I *knew* there would be athletes outside of my sphere that would be better fitting.

    That’s not even getting into the depth of collegiate sports history. So much of college sports is remembering the players who were great but didn’t leave a huge wake in professional sports.

    I’m excited to have this out for public consumption to get all of those suggestions from areas I didn’t know/wasn’t able to see into.

    Really cool, no objections. I am even setting aside my inherent pro-Heels bias and acknowledging that those other schools had some decent players.

    Nice work, Drew!
    Love the inclusion of so many NASCAR drivers.
    If Grant Hill was not, well…Grant Hill, I would lobby for Harry Gant at #33 (that would also add a bit of green to the graphic).
    Bobby Isaac for #71 would have been my choice.

    Since Drew specified that it is not the “best” athletes by number, I won’t argue that Jeff Gordon should be #24 over Josh Norman. However, I will point out the HUGE missed opportunity there to feature Gordon’s yellow 24 with either his original rainbow pain scheme or with his early aughts paint scheme with the flames behind it.


    Including NASCAR was the original motivation I had to put this graphic together. That said, since practically every NASCAR team operates out of NC I used NASCAR drivers with the rule that they had to be native North Carolinians.

    Ah – makes sense! I knew the Earnhardt’s were from there, and figured a few others were given that teams are headquartered out of there, didn’t notice that was the guideline you were going with. Nice work!

    He’s already cleared this up, but – All of those drivers are from NC. Gordon is from California.

    Where’s your driver from?
    Eagle Rock.
    Is that up around Wilkesboro?
    No. Glendale…California.
    He’s a Yankee?
    Californians aren’t Yankees. They’re not really anything.
    You said it.

    13 should have been Chris Corchiani. He graduated with the NCAA record for assists and continues to lead in assist per game.

    Great work! Compiling and discussing these lists are such fun. Dale Jarrett probably edges Roman Gabriel, but I’d replace Christian McCaffrey with Charlie Choo Choo Justice, and Dre Bly with Brian Piccolo. Probably several other old timey Tar Heels that could make this list, like Bob McAdoo and Walter Davis.

    Granted, I’m not a NASCAR guy & don’t know much about Ned Jarrett, but he must be pretty legendary to pass over Bobby Hurley at #11. And this is coming from a 40+ year UConn fan & an avowed Duke hater.

    I love these & this is a great one!

    OK. Thanks to Paul for clarifying that it’s not necessarily a best player by number, so it avoids an unnecessary fight. But I’m still going to chime in.

    No. 4 – J.J. Redick. One “D” in the surname. Grammatical only. Strong choice.

    No. 10 – Ron Francis. All-time great for the Carolina Hurricanes. Hall of Fame.

    No. 13 – Chris Corchiani. N.C. State basketball. Already mentioned upthread.

    No. 20 – Sebastian Aho. Carolina Hurricanes. Natrone Means? Good player at UNC and good pro. But, IMO, this isn’t terribly close.

    No. 22 – Charlie “Choo-Choo” Justice. Former UNC football great. Or George McAfee, a Duke football great. Love Christian McCaffrey, but the trade to the San Francisco 49ers a few weeks ago could turn this into a painful memory for Panthers fans.

    No. 24 – Josh Norman? No freaking way. Duke’s Johnny Dawkins … if he didn’t come through in the mid-80s, no one outside of hardcore Duke followers would have remembered Mike Krzyzewski as much more than a footnote in ACC annals. You could also go with Tommy Burleson, a key cog of the 1974 national champion for N.C. State men’s basketball with Monty Towe and David Thompson … both of whom made this list.

    No. 26 – Erik Cole. Carolina Hurricanes. Did more than DeShaun Foster did for the Panthers.

    No. 35 – Danny Ferry. Duke basketball. Mike Tolbert was a lot of fun with the Carolina Panthers, but Ferry in any day ending with a “y.”

    No. 52 – A strong case for James Worthy – this was his number playing for Dean Smith at UNC – could be made.

    No. 54 – Rodney Rogers. Wake Forest basketball player. Did a lot more than Shaq Thompson has accomplished in Charlotte.

    No. 61 – Cory Stillman. Might not be a HOFer, but a better player for the Hurricanes than Paradis has been for the Carolina Panthers. Aesthetically, also a chance to slide some red and black amongst the blue.

    No. 74 – Jaccob Slavin. Carolina Hurricanes. Mike Remmers was a swinging gate for opposing defensive ends.

    No. 80 – Kevin Weekes. Carolina Hurricanes. Wasn’t with the team long – neither was Jeremy Shockey with the Panthers – but Weekes was one of the goalies to help the Hurricanes advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 2002. What did Shockey do?

    Nice effort … no sarcasm. Takes guts to put these sorts of lists out there. There are nice hidden gems on your list. But there were some that could have been better with a little background. Thanks for putting that out.

    This analysis is the most comprehensive thing I have read in days. Bravo, Gabe. And no real arguments (I would keep Natrone over Aho for now).

    “My Brother and Me”
    “Eastbound & Down”
    “The Staircase”
    “The Andy Griffith Show”
    “One Tree Hill”

    -All took place in NC
    (Go Tar-Heels… F Duke)

    Zion Williamson #1
    Antawn Jamison #33
    Jay Williams #22
    Rick Fox #44
    Kenny Smith #30
    Muggsy Bogues #1
    Glen Rice #41
    Alonzo Mourning #33
    Et al

    I bleed Carolina blue, but Rick Fox over David Thompson is ridiculous. David Thompson was insanely good, an all-time ACC legend. Rick Fox was a nice player who went on to a nice acting career. Kenny Smith doesn’t top either Curry (Dell or Steph). Similarly, Antawn Jamison is one of my favorite players of all time, and while it is closer than many would think, Grant Hill is the right call.

    #11 should be Bobby Hurley
    Full disclosure, I know zero about NASCAR. So that guy might be incredible… but it should be Hurley.

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