WALNUT COVE — Some of Tobacco Road’s finest were present in Stokes County on Wednesday night at South Stokes High School for the sixth stop in this year’s 39th Annual ACC Barnstorming Tour.
Fans from many ages were present to get an up-close and personal encounter with their ACC heroes, and even another glance at their local Stokes County standouts.
In an effort to stir an immediate impact, the ACC All-Stars had no means of holding back, and in doing so, Nate Britt tossed an alley-oop to teammate Isaiah Hicks who then quickly converted and showed the fans a flawless windmill dunk, as if all the phones weren’t out already.
Obligatory or not, and just a little over two weeks removed from University of Phoenix Stadium, where the University of North Carolina sealed the 2017 NCAA Title, the Tar Heels were in the mix who received the loudest introduction applause.
Legendary Tar Heel Phil Ford is serving as the Head Coach of the 39th Annual ACC Barnstorming Tour. Nate Britt, Isaiah Hicks, Kanler Coker, and Stilman White were among the Tar Heels in the building who contributed in the 107-64 ACC victory over Stokes County, alongside Duke’s Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson, and former star Nolan Smith. Jason Tatum stepped in when he could, but only for entertainment three-point attempts from the sideline. Wake Forest was also represented in the exhibition game on Wednesday night by Trent Vanhorn, along with North Carolina State’s Chris Brickhouse, who was the only member of the Wolfpack who suited up, BeeJay Anya and Terry Henderson were present, but did not participate. UNC’s Kennedy Meeks and Demon Deacon Austin Arians had prior academic obligations to uphold which ultimately placed a damper on their participation in the eighth stop of this year’s Tour.
Of the Stokes County All-Stars who contributed in the Wednesday night’s exhibition game, three high schools were represented, North Stokes, South Stokes and West Stokes. The Wildcats included Reid Fulk, Noah Kiser, Jonathan Harris, Jacob Harris, Josh Turner, and Devan Hairston. The Sauras were Andrew Tilley, Caleb Bruster, Trevon Haliburton, Jonah Moorefield, Tre’ Scales, Jonathan Davis and Michal Phillips. The lone Viking from North Stokes was Dawson Manuel.
The exhibition game included four quarters with 10 minutes of playing time and for entertainment purposes, was loosely officiated. A fan could be chosen out of the crowd to take free throws when an ACC member went to the line, and vice versa for Stokes County. Even the officials could partake in the action, like when the referee fed Hicks the ball for another extraordinary alley-oop.
The ACC stars led after the first quarter 29-14. The 15-point lead was the smallest leading margin at the end of a quarter that the ACC stars would produce on Wednesday. After the third quarter, the older group led by 27 points and then the final score by margin was 43.
The West Stokes duo of Fulk and Turner compiled for 28 points of Stokes County’s total of 64. They led their squad with 16 and 12 individually.
Outside of playing time, there was a Three-Point Shooting Contest, in which South Stokes’ Scales and West Stokes’ Kiser battled UNC’s Hicks for the victory. The final was a face-off between Scales and Hicks, with the Tar Heel Hicks coming up victorious. The Dunk Contest was also inevitably owned by Hicks, who won by popular vote, but West Stokes’ Hairston and Turner yielded all they had in the meantime.
Wildcat Josh Turner, who bore No. 15 for West Stokes, earned the Player of The Game honor.
Upon completion of the game, fans were given then opportunity for a limited autograph and photo session in hopes of meeting their ACC All-Star hero.
Nolan Smith, currently a Special Assistant to Duke Men’s Basketball program, and part of the 2010 NCAA national championship team, joined fellow Blue Devils Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson from the 2015 National Championship team. They worked alongside UNC’s 2017 NCAA title-owners Britt, White, Hicks and Coker to help collectively make up seven stars who were on the floor competing in Walnut Cove on Wednesday night. Fans may or may not have realized that seven key players in NCAA basketball history would be the ones to provide entertainment that night — all of whom secured national championship rings while playing college ball.
The Sumner Group sponsors and coordinates the ACC Barnstorming Tour, and over the past 38 years, have had groups to feature legends like Michael Jordan, Tyler Hansbrough, Dereck Whittenburg, Len Bias and a younger Nolan Smith. A portion of the proceeds from each of the eight games over three weeks will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House, along with an added incentive benefiting the host school.
After the sixth stop at South Stokes high on Wednesday, the ACC All-Stars continued action on Thursday at New Hanover High School in Wilmington and will finish up the Tour at Kimmel Arena in Asheville on Saturday.