Jerry Stackhouse Q&A

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Jerry Stackhouse is set to host his third annual World's Greatest Alumni Game on Saturday at the Smith Center. On Friday afternoon, he answered reporters' questions at the pre-event press conference.

Can you talk about where your pro career is now?

Oh, I'm definitely excited about where I'm headed – going into Dallas – is a great situation for me and this point in my career. The last couple years have been tough being on a team that's rebuilding, but now I'm going to a team that has guys who have been all-stars and a lot of young talent. I'm excited about it. Plus exposure to one of the more outgoing owners in the league. It's going to be an exciting year.

Have you gotten a chance to talk to Mark Cuban?

I have. He's called me a few times and it's mostly a listening situation on my part. He's talking full speed the whole time. He's just excited and wants to win so bad and is trying to put together a team that can vie for a championship and I'm glad I can be a part of that. … this is really my first legit chance of going all the way since I've been in the league.

What was it like getting traded for Antawn Jamison?

I have a lot of respect for Antawn and I think a lot of things came out wrong about the situation [in Washington]. There are great people in Washington – especially the general manager Ernie Grunfeld – after the season I just felt like I wanted to be in a situation with a team that was closer to winning a championship and I told him that. He helped me get into that situation and not too many general managers do that, so I'm a big Ernie Grunfeld fan as well as Eddie Jordan, I think he's going to get that team turned around, but I just think they're just a little ways further away than I want to be. ‘Twan's going to be great for them. It's hard being swapped for another Carolina guy, but I've been playing with him and watching him work out and he's going to be a great mix for that group.

Now entering the third year of this event, what's it like to see all these guys come back for this?

It's great because these people know me and know what I stand for. It's always a great situation to see these guys come back – guys I've played with and former guys that I've gotten a chance to meet. …

The Carolina family went through a rough stretch with a lot of change, but do you think things are more settled now?

I do. We're all excited to have Coach [Roy Williams] back – everyone was looking for him a few years ago and now that we've got him we're really excited. Last year brought a lot of hope and with the talent coming in … I don't want to put any pressure on him but Marvin Williams is for real – as well as the other guys that have been here … with May, McCants has a chance to be a special player as well as Felton. I keep naming these guys … I like the way Jackie Manuel plays defense. So it could be a real special year this year and hopefully it all comes together for them.

With so many players heading straight to the pros out of high school, is that something you think you could have done?

I just had no aspirations of going to the pros then. My focus when I came to college was to be there four years – maybe leave one year early. It just so happens we made a great run and I had a chance to be the top pick in the draft. That was a situation that I couldn't turn down. I had Coach [Dean Smith] with me every step of the way telling me where I'd be drafted, making calls for me, so I had his support. I really can't fathom going straight to the pros from high school. I definitely wasn't ready. I came here and was able to learn some humility. After getting pumped up for four years of high school and getting pumped up before college – and then you finally come to Carolina and you're the last one to get water and the last one to eat … it really teaches you, and Coach did a great job teaching, everything from dealing with the media, different coaches, different organizations.

Can you talk about Phil Ford leaving Chapel Hill to be a coach in the NBA?

Phil was big for all of us. In my recruitment, that was the most exciting part of going to the mailbox and getting letters from him because he was writing every day. Just being from North Carolina and coming from a small town we had a lot of parallels and he made sure to point out those parallels. I'm just happy for him, happy for him to be back in coaching – I wish he would have never had to have a break from coaching. He's dealt with a lot of things and stayed strong and that has a lot to say about his character and his will. I'll be really rooting for him, except those two times he plays Dallas.

Do you ever think about making this Carolina pros against Duke pros?

Maybe one year, if they get up to par, we'll think about doing it.

How would you compare the group of players for this year's game – are they better than the past two years?

Definitely. It'll be a really, really exciting game. … a lot of younger guys, and that's always exciting as they have a lot of athletic ability and that's what people want to see. My focus of the game is to play, we're competitive and we like to compete. We don't want to get anybody injured … this is not AND1 Mix Tape basketball. We're going to compete, try to make plays and play the game the way it's supposed to be.

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