Tyler Hansbrough led the ACC regular season in scoring and rebounding, he’s All-America, he has his second 2008 national player of the year award, and he’s the last to wear No. 50.
As The Sporting News 2008 National Player of the Year, the junior forward qualifies to become the eighth Carolina player to have his jersey retired.
“It definitely is a privilege to be put in that category with the other Tar Heels whose numbers are retired,” Hansbrough said. “It truly is something special to have accomplished. In fact, it’s kind of hard to sit here and talk about how it feels to be put in the same category as the players who are up there already. I just know it is really special and something I look at as a privilege to be part of.”
Not long after the jersey retirement, other accolades began coming in. Hansbrough was a unanimous selection for first team Associated Press All-America. He also was selected by the Commonwealth Athletic Club of Kentucky as the Player of the Year to receive the Adolph Rupp Award. He was chosen by a national committee of more than 40 present and retired sports writers, coaches, TV-radio broadcasters, and sports administrators. The awards will be presented at the Final Four in San Antonio on April 3rd.
A UNC athlete must be national player of the year to qualify for jersey retirement. In men’s basketball, the six recognized awards are the Oscar Robertson Trophy (selected by the United States Basketball Writers Association of America); the Naismith Award (presented by the Atlanta Tipoff Club); the John R. Wooden Award (presented by the Los Angeles Athletic Club); and the honors of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the Associated Press and The Sporting News. Hansbrough also has been named Sports Illustrated’s player of the year.
“I am ecstatic for Tyler and his family as well as his teammates who share in this honor,” said Coach Roy Williams ’72. “He’s a great example for all young players of how to prepare to play and how to play hard each and every day. He’s had a phenomenal season, especially considering all the expectations he faced coming into this season. He is quite deserving of this honor. It is even more special when you consider the other outstanding players that have also had great seasons.
“By winning this award, Tyler qualifies to move into the front row in the rafters and have his jersey retired whenever he decides to leave the University of North Carolina. There will never be another one just like him. I am so lucky to be his coach. For the rest of my career, I will be able to look up into that first row and see his jersey hanging next to the other retired jerseys, and I know that will bring a big smile to my face.”
Going into the ACC Tournament, Hansbrough led the ACC in scoring and rebounding with 23.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. He tied a single-season ACC record by winning seven player of the week awards. He led the Heels to a 14-2 record in conference play that clinched the school’s 26th ACC regular-season championship.
Through the regular season hhe was the sixth-leading scorer in UNC history with 2,001 points and is third all-time in ACC history for most points by a player as a junior. He set the UNC record for most free throws made and is tied for second in league history for free throws made by an ACC player with 690.
Hansbrough is also one of only three players in the 55-year history of the ACC to earn unanimous first-team All-ACC honors for three consecutive years.
His jersey joins those of Jack Cobb ’27 (no uniform number), George Glamack ’41 (No. 20), Lennie Rosenbluth ’57 (10), Phil Ford ’78 (12), James Worthy ’85 (52), Michael Jordan ’86 (23) and Antawn Jamison ’99 (33).