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October 15, 2020
PEMBROKE — Imagine arriving at the University of North Carolina as a freshman, going to offseason workouts with your position group, and the two players you’re paired with are Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison.
This was Brian Bersticker’s experience in his first semester in Chapel Hill in the fall of 1997.
The former Tar Heels power forward recalled his UNC career in an interview during the third night of the virtual Cash Bash, hosted by The University of North Carolina at Pembroke athletics Thursday.
“You’ve got a freshman kid, who knows zero about how Carolina basketball works on the court, going against (Carter and Jamison),” Bersticker said. “They just completely kicked my tail up and down the court, and then afterwards, we talked about it, and it was like, let’s try this, let’s do this better. They were mentors.”
For all the highlight-reel dunks produced by Carter, whose historically-long NBA career ended in March with the Atlanta Hawks, Bersticker said those types of plays were normal while practicing in Chapel Hill.
“I’ve seen Vince Carter do things like that, what you see on highlight tapes, that was a regular, everyday occurrence, just playing pickup on a summer afternoon,” Bersticker said.
Bersticker’s first fall in Chapel Hill became a time of transition for the program when longtime coach Dean Smith unexpectedly retired just before the start of the 1997-98 season. But there was far less of an adjustment than most would have expected, he said.
“(Smith) was v....