Antawn Jamison starred at the University of North Carolina, where he won National Player of the Year honors in 1998 under famed coach Dean Smith. Jamison brought the Tar Heels to a Final Four but did not win a title in Chapel Hill, one of the few things he regrets from his basketball career, before going onto a 15-year NBA run.
Tuesday night marks Jamison's debut working with CSN as part of the Wizards broadcast team when Washington plays LeBron James and the Cavs, but that did not keep the North Carolina native from speaking his mind in advance of No. 2 Maryland's game against the No. 9 Tar Heels.
"When it comes to Carolina basketball, one thing I will say, Roy [Williams] will definitely have his guys ready, especially if it’s a big game," Jamison said.
For 50 years, Maryland faced North Carolina in a number of big games. While the meetings were often must-see affairs, they were also routine. That's no longer the case since Maryland left the Atlantic Coast Conference for the greener - financially anyway - pastures of the Big Ten two seasons ago. When Maryland plays in the Dean Dome Tuesday night, it will be the first time the two teams will meet not as conference opponents.
"Y’all got scared because y’all couldn’t handle the ACC so y’all had to go to a different conference," Jamison said of Maryland. "We won’t hold that against y’all."
Fighting words? Perhaps. But Jamison was also quick to tell a story of losing at home in his final season at Carolina to a Gary Williams coached Terps team that starred Laron Profit and Obinna Ekezie.
"My last year y’all actually beat us in the Dean Dome," he explained. "I used to see Laron and we’d talk about that so we’re going to get this one (Tuesday), I’m very confident."
As for Tuesday's game, Jamison remained sure of the Heels despite a November loss to Northern Iowa.
"I don’t recognize those type of losses, because I knew they played but I was watching the football game, and you know we almost lost to Virginia Tech that day in football and then I got a call from a friend, and he was like ‘Man, how the Tar Heels lose?’ And I’m like, ‘What’s he talking about? We came back and won.’ He said, ‘Not football, I’m talking about basketball.’"
Jamison's story makes sense. On November 21, the Heels travelled to Iowa for a basketball game while in football Carolina travelled to Virginia Tech. The basketball game was expected to be a washout, No. 1 at the time, UNC likely only scheduled the game to let star point guard Marcus Paige play near his hometown, where the football team's win over VT locked up a berth in the ACC Championship game. In the end, only the football team won as the Northern Iowa Panthers dropped the Heels 71-67.
Still, whatever game Jamison watched, the basketball result counted, and dropped the Heels from the top spot in the country.
"I think the Northern Iowa game, that’s a tough place to play. You know, you go into Iowa, there’s nothing to do but watch Carolina play," Jamison said. "Hopefully they learn from their mistakes and it doesn’t happen again."
As for the matchup with Maryland, Jamison thinks it should be another great game for the Terps and the Heels. Just not as conference foes.
"We’re going to welcome y’all back to the ACC like we always do."