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Dean Smith’s most important recruiting class used his $200 to meet for lunch

Dean Smith

AP Photo


Legendary North Carolina head coach Dean Smith passed away back in February, but before he died, he made a touching addition to his will: Smith sent $200 to each and every one of his former players, telling them to “have a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith”.

Smith’s most influential recruiting class, the freshmen Class of 1965, took it one step further. As detailed by the Greensboro News & Record, the five-member class -- who still remain close 50 years later -- will all meet for lunch with their wives at university’s Alumni Center on Wednesday.

“That’s what coach Smith wanted when he sent out the checks to the players,” Joe Brown, one of the five players, told the paper. “The letter said ‘have a dinner out.’ For me, anyway, part of that was, ‘Hey, you guys get together.’”

The five players -- Brown, Bill Bunting, Rusty Clark, Dick Grubar and Gerald Tuttle -- entered the program at a time when, believe it or not, there was some pressure on Smith’s job, but they had an immediate impact. They forced Smith to go away from freshmen team-vs.-varsity scrimmages after they beat the varsity as freshmen, and followed that up by becoming the only class in UNC Basketball history to make the Final Four and win both the ACC regular season and tournament titles for three straight years.