Interviews: Derrick Phelps and Donald Williams

The two former Tar Heels sit down with <i>Inside Carolina</i> during their visit to the Blue Heaven Museum on Wednesday.

Derrick Phelps

What's it like to be a part of the 1993 UNC Basketball National Championship team?

"To be a part of a national championship team is a great part of history, not just for Carolina Basketball but for NCAA Basketball. You see a lot of games being re-played—especially our game against the Michigan team in '93. Everybody sees that as a classic, and to be a part of that is special. There will always be great memories for me and my family. When my son grows up, he can show people that his father played for a team that won a national championship, so it's a great feeling."

Let's assume for a minute that you didn't win the national championship in 1993. What significance did Carolina Basketball play in your life?

"Regardless, going to school here at Carolina and playing for a legendary coach like Dean Smith was special. Our goal was to win a national championship, but if it didn't happen, it was a great challenge and a great feeling to be in the situation that I had. My four years at Carolina were the best four years of my life—something that I will always remember and enjoy. It's just a great feeling to be a part of college basketball and a part of this university."

You mentioned your son. A lot of high school players today have family members with ties to one school, but go to another school. Is there any chance that your son would go anywhere else but Carolina?

"Well, I couldn't make a decision for my son. Whichever school he chose, I'd just have to go with the flow. Hopefully, it wouldn't be Duke (laughing), but you just have to let the young people chose for themselves. They have their own minds.

"When I chose a school I had to choose for myself. Some people wanted to influence me to go to a school here or there, but my heart was coming to Carolina. If I made the decision, I would like for my son to come to Carolina, but young people have to make their own decisions. I think he would make the right decision for himself."

Donald Williams

What has Carolina Basketball meant in your life, aside from winning lots of games and championships? How has it affected your life or changed you?

"I think that was a stage where you go from a teenager to a young man and you learn so much. For four years, Coach Smith was like a father figure. He taught me discipline and manners and a whole lot of other things. He taught me some things that I didn't learn at home, so I tip my hat to him. He did a great job of raising me to become a better young man.

"When you grow up in the four years, you don't understand what he's trying to teach you, but after you move on and you look back, you see exactly why he did things and what he meant by them."

How many times each week would you say that someone approaches you and wants to talk about Carolina Basketball?

"Every day if you run into a true basketball fan, and in the state of North Carolina you have a lot of North Carolina fans, so I might do it at least twice a day. For me, I love North Carolina, so I don't mind talking about it. It's just so rich, and there are so many memories here. When I talk about North Carolina and Coach Smith, my eyes light up. I feel good to talk about Coach Smith and what kind of person he is."

What do you think of Matt Doherty, a former player like yourself, as the coach now?

"I think it's good because it's somebody that Coach Smith taught and coached. I think he will bring some of the same things taught him and passed along to him. Then again, he's his own person so there will be some changes too. He has his own ideas, so there will be some changes.

"I think there's a little shake and a twist there because you're so familiar with seeing Coach Smith and Coach Guthridge and those guys over there. It's hard for some people to adjust to."


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