The national championship banners and retired jerseys of Jordan, Worthy, and Ford loom overhead in the Dean E. Smith Center. The basketball court is the same one on which all-Americans Jamison, Felton, and Hansbrough played.Is it any wonder that Hickory Ridge High graduates Frank Tanner and Quinton Wimbish choose the word surreal to describe playing for the UNC mens basketball program?Tanner is a senior varsity walk-on and Wimbish is a sophomore playing his first season for the junior varsity squad.Tanner is the latest member of the Tanner family to wear the Carolina Blue. Brother Ford Tanner played for the JV team as a freshman and junior before graduating in 2011.Their older brother J.B. played two seasons of JV and was a varsity walk-on for two years. He was a member of the Tar Heels national championship team in 2009. He is now an assistant coach at UNC Greensboro, working for another former UNC basketball player, head coach Wes Miller.After J.B. made the team, the others kept coming, said C.B. McGrath, an assistant to UNC head coach Roy Williams and the head JV coach. Its been great coaching all of them, but they are definitely different. They obviously were all good enough and helped the JV team win some games.J.B. and Ford graduated from other high schools in North Carolina before their family moved to Harrisburg in 2007. After starring at Hickory Ridge, where their father J. Tanner was the junior varsity boys coach for a few years, Frank turned down chances to play college ball at Division III schools so he could follow his brothers to UNC.After two years on the JV team at UNC, Frank Tanner knew it was unlikely that any varsity walk-on spots were available for his junior year. He tried out anyway, but didnt make it.Tanner played college intramurals and stayed in shape. This year, he made the team as the only senior walk-on, along with three first-time junior walk-ons.In Carolinas first 26 games, Tanner has played in ten of them, grabbing a couple of rebounds and scoring his only bucket of the season against Virginia on Feb. 16. One of his highlights this season was playing in the Maui Classic in November.Inspired by TannerWimbish was inspired by Frank Tanners status. Wimbish tried out for the JV team last year but didnt make it. He said shooting in the roomy confines of the Dean Dome had a lot different feel to him than shooting in Hickory Ridges gymnasium.Wimbish spent last school year trying, and failing, to land tickets to UNC home games through the schools lottery system and following Franks advice by staying in shape. This year he was one of the 50-60 players going through a week-long tryout and landing one of the JV teams 13 roster spots.The team plays an 11-game schedule. With the exception of one away game, all of JV games are played in the Dean Dome on the same days as varsity games.The setting may be the same as that for the varsity team, but there is one obvious difference for Wimbish and his JV teammates as they hit the floor.We usually play in front of about 40 people, Wimbish said.Wimbish doesnt have to worry about trying to score varsity game tickets this year. He gets to join the JV team in some of the best seats in the house, right behind the Tar Heels bench.
Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013
Hickory Ridge grads land spots on UNC hoops teams
Hickory Ridge graduate Frank Tanner is a member of the University of North Carolina varsity basketball team. Courtesy of Jeffrey Camarati/UNC Athletics
Quinton Wimbish plays on the UNC Chapel Hill junior varsity mens basketball team. He's a graduate of Hickory Ridge High School. Courtesy of Jeffrey Camarati/UNC Athletics