04/14/06 — It's a slam dunk - ACC stars wow sellout crowd at Wayne Country Day

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It's a slam dunk - ACC stars wow sellout crowd at Wayne Country Day

By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on April 14, 2006 1:59 PM

Many of the spectators wore Wolfpack red and Carolina or Duke blue. But on this night, they were all rooting for the same team -- and same cause.

Some of the top seniors from around the Atlantic Coast Conference were at Wayne Country Day on Thursday night for the inaugural ACC Men vs. WCDS Roundball Challenge, a benefit for the Jimmy V Foundation for cancer research.

"It's a great thing for us to get out and have a chance to play in front of some fans who we've not gotten a chance to play in front of," said Tar Heel senior David Noel, a second-team ACC pick this season. "They get a chance to be a lot closer to us than in the regular season, and to get out and do something like this for a good cause is very special to us."

Noel, along with other top players from around the ACC like Duke's Sean Dockery, N.C. State's Cameron Bennerman and Illian Evtimov, Wake Forest's Justin Gray and Clemson's Shawan Robinson, wowed the packed house with windmill dunks, long distance threes and nifty passing. They went up against some pretty good hoopsters in their own right -- including Victor Young, E.J. Johnson, Bo Johnson, Ron Barnes and Sasha Kovacevic. Even 5-foot-6 Michael Taylor, Wayne Country Day's director of athletics, was able to score a bucket in the lane against Dockery.

"Did you see my two points," Taylor asked with a smile. "It was a blast playing with this guys. I think it was a great night for everyone who came out."

The ACC men emerged as the winners as the two teams rang up nearly 250 total points, but very few paid attention to the scoreboard.

They were watching some of their favorite players.

"Oh, man, it was a lot of fun," said Young, a Goldsboro High grad who helped lead Mount Olive to the NCAA Division II basketball tournament this past season. He also put down several impressive dunks of his own against the ACC Men. "I've played against these guys for years -- since AAU ball. It's always a good time to get back up with all these guys."

UNC's Byron Sanders, Damien Grant, Thomas Wilkins and Will Robinson also played in the game. N.C. State's Toney Bethel was there, too, but didn't play due to injury, and Duke underclassman Demarcus Nelson also watched the game from the bench.

The fans, including 9-year-old J.C. Toler, got a kick out of watching and meeting the players.

"I can't wait to get some autographs," said J.C., who like his dad, Jeff, was sporting a J.J. Redick Duke jersey. "This is great."

"J.C. just loves basketball," said Jeff, a local pastor. "He's got every newspaper article cut out in his room."

After the game was over, the players sat at tables in the gymnasium and signed autograph after autograph and posed for countless pictures.

"Hopefully this will become an annual event that gets bigger and better every year," said Harlon Neal, who assisted with the event. "It was a sellout, and it looked like everyone had a wonderful time."


The ACC Men vs. WCDS Roundball Challenge was sponsored by Wayne Country Day School; Goldsboro Drug Store; RA Jeffreys; Pizza Inn; Deacon Jones Nissan; Chevrolet and Cadillac of Goldsboro; Steve Moore, AllState; AccuCopy; Country 102, 1150 WGBR, WFMC; Jon T. Bell Realty; Hampton Inn; Seymour Funeral Home; Attorney Arnold Jones III; Merrill Lynch and the Goldsboro News-Argus. For more information on the V Foundation for cancer research, visit www.jimmyv.org.