In 1989, JIm Valvano's squad won the ACC regular season title, posting a 22-9 overall mark and a 10-4 record in ACC play. The squad posted home wins over eventual final-four participant Duke and over North Carolina, both top-10 teams, and defeated South Carolina and No. 14 Iowa in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16 in East Rutherford, N.J.
The squad featured the Pack's all-time scoring leader, Rodney Monroe, and all-time assist leader, Chris Corchiani. Monroe and teammate Chucky Brown earned first-team All-ACC honors that season, while Monroe was also named to the NCAA Tournament East All-Region squad. Brown, Tom Gugliotta and Brian Howard went on to play multiple years in the NBA. Other players on the roster included Brian D'Amico, Mickey Hinnant, Jamie Knox, David Lee, Avie Lester, Kenny Poston, Kelsey Weems and Roland Whitley.
"We are proud to honor the terrific team of 1989," said Yow. "That group proudly represents the pride and never give up spirit of the Wolfpack. They achieved success because they refused to accept the status quo. It is fitting that a team coached by Jim Valvano, the epitome of never giving up, will be the first to receive this award."