Instead of sequestering themselves from the average students the way many college basketball players at elite programs do, members of North Carolina's team have found a unique way to interact with their peers.
The Tar Heels regularly show up at various courts on campus and play pick-up games against fellow students, drawing crowds of dozens or even hundreds as word of their presence spreads.
"We just come out here and have fun," freshman guard Kendall Marshall told the Daily Tar Heel in the above video. "Instead of our peers watching us on TV, they get to interact with us and see that we're people just like them. I think everybody enjoys it, so I don't see us stopping anytime soon."
At a time when many top players treat college as a necessary evil or a stepping stone on the way to the NBA, it's great to see the Tar Heels embrace their time on campus and the opportunity to create a special memory for a fellow student. Many of North Carolina's top players including potential NBA draft picks Harrison Barnes and John Henson have been showing up to pick-up games at least a few times a month since midseason.
It's silly to read too much into this video when considering whether Barnes or Henson will turn pro or return to school for another year, but it at least offers more evidence they're enjoying the college experience at North Carolina. There are probably other campuses where these pickup games between members of the basketball team and average students are common, but there are definitely many where it's not.
The Daily Tar Heel asked freshman guard Reggie Bullock if the North Carolina players had ever lost a pickup game against average students.
"We haven't caught an L yet, but we've been pretty close to catching an L," Bullock said.
Then Marshall chimed in.
"The first day when it was just me and Harrison, we did lose the first two games," Marshall admitted with a sheepish smile. "Then we realized we had to play a little bit harder."
(Thanks, Dan Wiederer)