CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Tyler Hansbrough will soon take his place among a select group of North Carolina basketball greats.
The junior was honored as national player of the year by Sporting News on Tuesday, ensuring he will become just the eighth Tar Heel to have his number retired. When he leaves school, Hansbrough will join a list that includes Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Phil Ford on the front row of jerseys hanging from the Smith Center rafters.
"It truly is something special to have accomplished," said Hansbrough, who wears No. 50. "In fact, it's kind of hard to sit here and talk about how it feels to be put in the same category as the players who are up there already."
The honor came on the same day Hansbrough was the unanimous choice as Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year in voting from 90 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association, making him only the third player to win the award unanimously in league history. On Monday, he became just the third player to be unanimously selected three times to the all-ACC team.
The 6-foot-9 Hansbrough led the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring (23.1 points) and rebounding (10.5) this season for the top-ranked Tar Heels (29-2, 14-2 ACC).
"There will never be another one just like him," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "I am so lucky to be his coach. For the rest of my career, I will be able to look up into that first row and see his jersey ... and I know that will bring a big smile to my face."
Antawn Jamison, unanimous national player of the year in 1998, was the previous Tar Heel to have his jersey retired.
For a North Carolina men's player to have his jersey retired, he must win at least one of six national player of the year awards: The Associated Press, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, Sporting News, the Wooden Award and the Naismith Award.
"I feel like you're either getting better or you're not," Hansbrough said. "I'm always the guy trying to get better. ... Those little things, it seems like they stay with me and it's one of those driving factors."