Jerseys in the Rafters: McCants, Felton, May honored
Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 31, 2006
By Bret Strelow
CHAPEL HILL — Rashad McCants looked toward the rafters as he emerged from a Smith Center tunnel.
McCants checked out the rows of retired and honored jerseys throughout his playing career, but this time he spotted his name and number.
North Carolina presented framed jerseys to McCants, Raymond Felton and Sean May at halftime of an 81-51 victory against Dayton on Sunday afternoon. Seven banners commemorating the program’s retired jerseys and 36 recognizing the honored ones now hang high above the playing floor.
“I’d come here at night and work out, and I’d always look up there and tell myself I was going to be up there one day,” McCants said. “To look up and see my name up there is undescribable.”
McCants, Felton and May led North Carolina to the national championship as juniors in 2005 and were first-round NBA draft picks two months later.
Felton and May were named co-MVPs of the title team, and May’s status as a first-team All-American also met one of the school’s qualifications for honoring a jersey. McCants was named a second-team All-American as a sophomore.
“We came in together; we won together; we left together,” Felton said. “We do everything together, no matter what it is.”
Felton and May showed up before the start of Sunday’s game, and McCants arrived at his seat 12 minutes into the first half.
Head coach Roy Williams went to midcourt with a microphone as soon as the half ended, and applause for the approaching players interrupted his opening statement.
“It was tough not to look at my parents and shed a tear,” May said. “Raymond and I were talking about that; just keep smiling and try not to focus on one person. It was beautiful.”
Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or firstname.lastname@example.org.