By Twan's Mother Kathy
Antawn's collegiate career was one of the most successful in NCAA history. His team finished with a 21-11 overall record and third in the ACC with a 10-6 mark. Antawn became the first Tar Heel and only the fifth player in league history to be named first-team All-ACC as a freshman. The season was highlighted by an overtime win at Maryland, a 20-rebound performance at Virginia by Antawn and remarkable comeback victories at home over Wake Forest and Duke. Carolina also won at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium for the third consecutive year.
Antawn's sophomore year was uniquely special. The team opened up the season with three consecutive losses, but regrouped to finish 11-5 in the conference and finished in a tie for second place with favorite, Wake Forest. Carolina won all eight of its games in February and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament after winning the ACC Tournament tile. Antawn earned All-America and first-team All-ACC honors as he led the team with 19.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
The Tar Heels went into the ACC Tournament as the No. 3 seed, but knocked off Virginia, Wake Forest and NC State to earn the school's 14th title. The Tar Heels swept through the NCAA East Regional final at Syracuse by 23 points in the regional final at Syracuse. During that season, Coach Smith became the winningest coach in Division I college basketball history with his 877th win. That came in the second round of the 1997 NCAA Tournament, a 73-56 win over Colorado.
Just prior to Antawn's junior year, Coach Smith shocked the sports world by announcing his resignation as Carolina's head coach on October 9, 1997. He turned the team over to longtime assistant Bill Guthridge. Coach Guthridge picked up right where Coach Smith left off. Coach "Gut" became the winningest first-year head coach in NCAA history as he directed the Tar Heels to a 34-4 record, ACC Tournament title, NCAA Regional crown, Final Four berth and No.1 ranking in the final Associated Press poll.
UNC was led by Antawn who was the consensus National Player of the Year. He led the team in scoring with 22.2 points per game and rebounding with 10.5 per game. Antawn became the third player in ACC history - with UNC's Lennie Rosenbluth in 1957 and Duke's Christian Laettner in 1992 - to be named ACC Player of the Year, ACC Tournament MVP, and NCAA Regional Player of the Year all in the same season. Antawn finished his career as fourth all-time rebounder with 1, 027 and seventh in scoring with 1,974 points. Antawn also set a single-season record as a junior with 316 field goals and 389 rebounds and scored 822, second only to Rosenbluth's 895 in 1957. Antawn became the first player in ACC history to be named first-team All-ACC in his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons.
Twice UNC defeated No. 1 ranked Duke. Those wins gave Carolina nine all-time wins over No.1 ranked teams, matching Notre Dame for the most wins over the nation's top ranked programs. The first UNC win over Duke was a 97-73 decision on Feb.5, 1998, and was only the second meeting between the two schools in which the teams were ranked 1-2 in the nation. The second win over the Blue Devils came in the ACC Tournament final. Antawn had 35 points and 11 rebounds in the regular-season game and 22 points and 18 rebounds in the ACC championship game.
Following the season, Antawn and fellow first-team All-ACC selection Vince Carter announced their decision to enter the NBA Draft after their junior seasons. Antawn was the fourth player selected in the first round and Carter was picked up next. The two players were then traded for each other and Antawn ended up with the Golden State Warriors and Carter with the Toronto Raptors.