Chapel Hill News
blazed honorable trail at UNC
Anthony Jeffries; Staff Writer
CHAPEL HILL --
Slim and trim at age 52, Charlie Scott looks as if he could still play in the
National Basketball Association.
"I eat at
Subway," said Scott, laughing.
But the former
University of North Carolina All-American no longer picks up a basketball.
involvement with the sport today amounts to working with Champion and other
companies in sports marketing and watching his sons in youth-basketball leagues
Scott and his
family have resided there for 12 years.
Even though he
last played in the NBA in 1980, Scott left an indelible imprint in basketball
that is still felt in this era of three-point shots and early draft entrants.
All one has to
do is watch a game and look at the number of African-American players.
earned a basketball scholarship at UNC in 1966, he became a pioneer for black
athletes, even though the impact would not be seen until years later.
He was the
first black to receive an athletic scholarship at Carolina, and was one of a
handful of black athletes to sign at a Southern school.
the doors for Phil Ford, Walter Davis, James Worthy, Michael Jordan, Jerry
Stackhouse, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter and other acclaimed Tar Heel stars.
at the history of North Carolina, and all the players who have come out of
there, it is very gratifying to know that I had an instrumental part in the
black athlete in the ACC," Scott said. "Very few times do people get
an opportunity in life to make an impact.
"I have a
legacy that my kids can be proud of."
Judging from a
guest appearance at the Blue Heaven Museum recently, Scott is still popular even
though he has not worn a UNC jersey in more than 30 years.
autographs and talked to fans who still remember when he scored 40 points in an
ACC championship victory over Duke and hit the game-winning shot against
Davidson to advance to the Final Four in 1969.
His list of
accomplishments include being a two-time first-team All-American and three-time
All-ACC selection during his three-year career from 1967-1970.
22.1 points, including a league-high 27.1 points as a senior, during that period
and helped lead the Tar Heels to two straight ACC championships and Final Four
berths in 1968 and 1969.
captured a gold medal as a member of the United States team at the 1968
at Carolina during one of the most successful eras in program history. The Tar
Heels won three straight ACC titles and appeared in three consecutive Final
Fours from 1967-69 to set the platform for Dean Smith's remarkable coaching
standouts during that three-year run were Rusty Clark, Larry Miller, Bob Lewis,
Bill Bunting and Dick Grubar.
Scott left a
legacy at UNC for his tremendous athletic skills and for breaking the color
barrier. But as Scott admitted, being the first black scholarship athlete at UNC
was "paved with a price."
time, no matter how comfortable I felt with my teammates, they still had to deal
with the fact that they never had been around black people, either," Scott
said. "I still couldn't go anywhere with their friends because their
friends were still brought up in a South that was very separate.
was a lot of loneliness on my part and a lot of times I questioned myself why I
because of the support of his teammates, alumni and Smith. He and Grubar became
close friends and teammates Eddie Fogler, the former South Carolina coach, and
Jim Delany helped him adjust.
assistant John Lotz, who recently died, also eased Scott's transition.
Then there was
Smith took me to a restaurant where they never had blacks eating there
before," Scott said. "It was Coach Smith's way of doing everything. He
did it not trying to prove a point, but he felt like it was one of the best
restaurants, and he wanted me to go and eat with him.
believed racism should not be involved with anything."
help but be anxious.
apprehensive," Scott said, "but being the first black you are
apprehensive about everything you were doing at that point and time. This was
back in the 1960s, where Jim Crow was very strong.
comfort zone was in the players and the coaching staff and the reception from
the alumni who I met that were very, very cordial to me.
finished talking to another guy who told me of a young man named Claudius
Claiborne who had gone to Duke at the same time," Scott said.
"Claudius told him it was probably the worst mistake he ever made in his
life. I can look at my career and say it was one of the greatest choices I've
ever made in my life."
close to not attending UNC, though.
Maryland coach Lefty Driesell, now the Georgia State coach, first recruited
Scott at Davidson College and almost had the New York native.
high-school coach at Laurinburg (N.C.) Institute talked his star pupil into
looking at other schools before signing.
Once Scott met
Smith and his future teammates, he spurned Davidson for North Carolina.
high-school coach used to bring me to the games," Scott said. "Deep in
his heart, I think he wanted me to go to the University of North Carolina. The
more I came up, the more I became enthralled with the school.
Smith was important, but the biggest thing was when I went out with the players
on the freshman team who would be the players I would play with (on the varsity
team). I gained a friendship and a comfort zone with those guys, and I felt like
I would have an opportunity where we would build a program.
already in the top four," Scott said, "and Davidson was already there.
At that time Carolina was not one of the top schools in the country. Great
tradition had been here, and we would try to start it up again."
part was breaking the news to Driesell, who was the only reason Scott was
interested in Davidson.
honest, I didn't get a hold of him," Scott said. "I talked to his
wife. It was a very hard thing to do, but my high-school coach told me my choice
had to be selfish. If Lefty wasn't at Davidson, would I have been interested in
the school? And the truth of the matter is no.
have come to Carolina, and that is what I based my decision on. I see Lefty, who
is a good friend, in Atlanta, and he makes it a point to tell me if I had come
to his school, he might have been the Dean Smith of the South."
have thought about the 1969 East Regional final when he made the statement.
connected on 10 of 14 field- goal attempts in the second half, including a
20-footer with three seconds left to eliminate Driesell's team.
ousted UNC in the NCAA semifinals, Scott went on to a professional career with
five teams. He won an American Basketball Association rookie-of-the-year award
and a NBA title with the Boston Celtics.
He was a
three-time NBA All-Star selection and a two-time All-ABA team pick.
here, Scott is more remembered as the guy who set the standard in more ways than
blacks turned on their TV at that point and time, they only had one person to
cheer for," Scott said. "So I had to really stand up for a lot of
"I was really grateful to hold a torch that they were able to associate themselves with."