Future Heels enjoy all-star experience

CHICAGO -- J.R. Smith and Marvin Williams didn't play on the same team during the Roundball Classic, but it was easy to see that the two North Carolina recruits would fit in easily next year for the Tar Heels.

After the game, the two elite prep players congratulated each other and took pictures together. Smith was whisked away for an assembly line of print and television interviews after capturing the East MVP award, and Williams was mobbed by fans for autographs, and was gracious with his time and signed for them.

Both players said it was hard to see North Carolina get knocked out of the NCAA tournament against Texas, knowing they could have helped.

"I didn't get to watch the game, so I kept calling back home to get scores," Williams said. "That was the first day that I got here."

"It was hard to watch them lose because I have great relationships with everybody on the team," Smith said. "I wanted to see them do well. I can't wait to be out there helping them."

Smith and Williams didn't have much opportunity to spend time together this week since they weren't on the same team.

Williams rekindled his friendship with Duke recruit Shaun Livingston and spent time with his other teammates.

"I was able to hang out with the guys this week, and that was the best part about it," Williams said. "I knew my teammates as players, but I got to see them as people.

"Me and Aaron (Afflalo) just kept walking around (in Chicago). We did look at the (Michael) Jordan statue."

Smith remarked how much fun it was to see Chicago for the first time.

"We went to Jordan's restaurant and looked at the statue," Smith said. "We took pictures of everything. It's a great city, and the biggest city I've ever been in."

Smith added that he's matured a lot as a player and doesn't get as wild on the court like he used too.

"I've matured a lot, on and off the court," said Smith, 18. "I used to play around a lot in games. I still play around if I'm playing with my boys.

"Everybody underestimates 18 year olds and thinks they don't change much. They think we are just crazy, but we are just like everyone else."

Inside Carolina Top Stories