HPU’s Scott Cherry on Dean Smith

Posted by Press Release on February 8, 2015 at 8:27 pm under College | Comments are off for this article

High Point University Head Coach Scott Cherry was a Captain on Dean Smith’s 1993 National Championship team. He was part of four UNC Sweet 16 teams and Final Four teams in 1991 and 1993.

On his relationship with Coach Smith
“He meant the world to me. He gave me a chance to play at one of the best programs in the country. I wasn’t highly recruited out of Upstate New York. I was being recruited by Holy Cross and Fordham and Fairleigh Dickinson. He came up to see me and saw something in me. I’m forever grateful and indebted to him. Coach Guthridge and Phil Ford and Dave Hanners, the whole staff took a chance on me. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for him and everything he’s done for the guys in the program.”

On how he treated all players as equals
“You know who the superstars are. That’s the way it is everywhere you go. But he did everything he could for everyone in the program. It didn’t matter who you were. While you were there he took care of you and made sure you did everything you were supposed to do and tried to help you become a man. Once you left, he didn’t stop reaching out to you.”

On how Coach Smith celebrated the birth of Coach Cherry’s son
“I have a nine-year-old son [Brody], and when he was born, my wife [Cortney] pulled out the letter Coach Smith sent to him. It had a pair of little Carolina Blue socks for him. In the letter he said, ‘Once you put these on you’re a part of the Carolina family.’ Coach was special like that. He knew everybody’s name and knew your parents, your brothers. He didn’t have to do that. I’m sure there were hundreds of letter winners and people, friends and family that knew him. For him to reach out to MY son and make it something special like that – I don’t know how many people do it these days. It’s pretty unique. He was just a special person.”

On his legacy at North Carolina and in college basketball
“The greatest legacy he left was that every single summer we all went back there. People ask about reunions, but we just had everybody come back there in the summer. Everybody was just hanging out in the basketball offices, playing pick up, hanging out on campus and Franklin Street. It was a brotherhood and it was fairly unique at the time. To have guys want to come back and see him and the staff and the secretaries and everybody that was associated with that program was special.”

“I played pick up with Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins and James Worthy – you can go down the line. They were all there and they all came back. To want to come back and see your head coach, see the guys you played with and see the camaraderie is special. A lot of people ask if it was that way and it was. No matter what we were doing or where we were playing, we all came back to see Coach Smith.”

“It was such a unique thing. Coach wanted to win – he was a competitor. But I know that he took tremendous pride in the development of his players both as players and as people. He took tremendous pride in seeing his players go on the become doctors and lawyers and have families and raise kids. He truly did care about that.”

On the 1993 National Championship Team and how it embodied Coach Smith’s philosophy
“I think we epitomized what his program stood for that year. I don’t think we were the most talented team on paper. There were a few other teams in the Final Four that were more talented if you look at guy against guy. But we were a team. When we went out on the floor we were doing it for each other. We wanted to do it for Coach because everyone kept saying how great he was but he couldn’t win the big one. It was almost a relief when we won because we were so happy for him.”

“Ultimately it was great to for us, but for everything he did for us, we wanted him to get the recognition he deserved. Sometimes it comes from winning a title. People forget how many 20 win seasons and how many Sweet 16s in a row there were. People don’t remember that, they want to know how many national championships you won. So we were just happy for him and he was thrilled for us because of all the hard work we put in.”

“If you look at that team in terms of NBA superstars and guys that went on to pro careers, Eric Montross and George Lynch played a lot of years. Derrick Phelps, Brian Reese, Matt Wenstrom and Dante Calabria had some stints in the NBA but they weren’t long term guys like he had had in the past. But we were just a great team, cared for each other and did everything we could for each other to win. I think that team was a great representation of him.”

On one of his favorite Coach Smith stories
“One of my favorite stories was when we had Rick Fox on the team. We had one of those practices where Rick was struggling a bit. Everything Coach was telling him to do, it seemed like he was doing the opposite. Coach Smith jokingly said, ‘Hey Rick next time you come down the floor just throw the ball in the stands.’ Sure enough, next time he came down the floor he chucked that thing as far as he could into the stands. Every single guy on the team stopped and we were going to go over there and kill Rick. And Coach Smith just stood there and looked at him and said, ‘Well at least I know you’re listening to me.’”

On what he values most about his time playing for Coach Smith
“I am fortunate and blessed to have played at Carolina. Everything he preached was about the team. There wasn’t one individual that was greater than the other. That’s really what I try to do with our guys today – to help them with everything they do. Nowadays everyone wants to be concerned with themselves. To be concerned for people over yourself is something he modeled and it was easy to follow in his footsteps. It’s just a tough day for everybody. He was such a tremendous person and has done so much for us and all the Carolina guys. All the guys that went through there are just blessed to be a part of what he did.”

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