Michael Jordan is one of the best, if not the best, basketball players of all time.
Before “His Airness” made a name for himself in the NBA, he was already wowing fans at the University of North Carolina during his three year college career.
To see how the greatest basketball player of all-time fared in college, we compiled all of MJ’s college stats and other notable achievements here for fans to enjoy. If you see a college record or other major event that you think we should include in Jordan’s college record, please leave a note for us in the comments section below the article.
Michael Jordan’s College Career
Michael Jordan attended the University of North Carolina from 1981 through 1984 spending three years there before leaving school after his Junior year, a year early for the NBA Draft.
Filled with highlights, praise and accomplishments, the most significant highlight of Jordan’s college days happened in the 1982 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game against the Georgetown Hoyas. During this game, he would go on to hit the winning shot giving the Tar Heels the March Madness crown.
Though thruough Jordan’s college career, he would never average anything near his NBA point averages.
Jordan’s highest points per game average for a season was his Sophomore season when he averaged 20.0 points in 36 games. In Jordan’s junior season, he would average 19.6 points per game. So how is it possible that the unstoppable Jordan didn’t put up more scoring at UNC?
According to this 1983 article, his father James Jordan Jr., spoke to his son’s team mindset while at North Carolina:
“Michael is just not the type to insist he be ahead of someone else.” the elder Jordan said. “He likes the system at Carolina and is not hung up on independent playing.”
Of note, the 3 point shot was only in play during MJ’s sophomore year as a test by the ACC and some other leagues in college basketball, but was not a predominant part of the game like it is today.
Michael Jordan’s College Stats at North Carolina
As we mentioned, the scoring prowess we would know him for in the NBA wasn’t nearly as apparent during his college days. Had he not played for a Blue Blood university under Dean Smith and surrounded by other great college players, it’s not hard to imagine that Jordan would have put up numbers that more mirrored his NBA output.
Michael Jordan’s College Achievements
Michael Jordan would go on to help redefine the NBA, he also had a very notable college career. Jordan is considered one of the greatest college basketball players in history. In three years, he garnered several college achievements, awards and recognition including:
- Member of the NCAA Championship team in 1982.
- A unanimous selection as a First Team All-American in both 1983 and 1984
- Picked as the NCAA College Player of the Year in both 1983 and 1984
- Winner of the John Wooden Award in 1984
- Winner of the Dr. James Naismith Award in 1984
- Most points scored by a sophomore at UNC at the time (721) over 36 total games (1982-1983)
- Set his personal career high for points in college during his sophomore year with 39 points against Georgia Tech on January 29th, 1983
- Set his personal career high for points against Duke on January 22nd, 1983 with 32.
The biggest moment with Jordan in Carolina blue and white occurred in the the 1982 NCAA Championship game. North Carolina faced a Patrick Ewing -led Georgetown. With 15 seconds remaining in the game the ACC Freshman of the Year would hit a 16-foot jumper off a pass from James Worthy. That “shot” proved to be the difference as UNC prevailed 63-62. Jordan ended the game with 16 points and game-high 9 rebounds.
Ultimately, Jordan would leave North Carolina after his Junior season and would go on to be selected third overall in the 1984 NBA Draft — after Hakeem Olajuwon and infamously, Sam Bowie. Jordan, as we know, would not only go on to dominate the NBA, but change the face of basketball.