Former UNC point-guard Phil Ford promotes ACC Barnstormers tour at Weldon High School

The Roanoke Valley is without a doubt ACC country. There are plenty of North Carolina, Duke, North Carolina State and Wake Forest fans around, bragging about their teams.

Many local fans watch their favorite players on television, following their careers from start to finish without getting to see them play in person. That may change for some, though.

For the second time in three years, the ACC All-Stars will invade the Roanoke Valley. At 7:30 p.m. on April 16, the ACC Barnstorming Tour will make its way to Weldon High School.

Standouts on the roster include UNC’s Leslie McDonald, Duke’s Tyler Thornton and Andre Dawkins and N.C. State’s Jordan Vandenberg. This will mark the 36th year of the tour.

The 2014 team will be coached by UNC and ACC legend Phil Ford. Event coordinator T.J. Taylor and Ford were in Weldon on Wednesday to talk about bringing the event back to the Roanoke Valley.

“I get about 15-20 calls from schools wanting to know about the tour,” Taylor said. “I got a call from Weldon Athletic Director Donnell Handsome and I told him I would come visit the location.”

The tour last came to the area in 2011 at Roanoke Rapids High School. Taylor remembered the turnout that night and felt it was a no brainier to bring the ACC seniors back.

On Wednesday, Ford met with groups of students and talked to them about the ACC Barnstormers and their futures.

“This is my second year being involved with the tour,” Ford said. “I’ve been very impressed with the enthusiasm of the players and the fans at the games. This is one of the few times some people get to see these guys in person. They get to interact with them and talk with the players and get their autographs. In this state, there is a lot of interest in basketball and I think that is what has kept the tour a success. I even did this after my senior year.”

The ACC All-Stars will play a group of local all-stars. Handsome, who is in charge of putting a team together, said he has received a lot of interest from former players who want a shot at the ACC team.

“I’ve talked with several guys about it,” Handsome said. “They are excited to come and play.”

Ford said the players have fun, but really approach the game bringing their all from a competitive standpoint. The ACC squad has better talent, but it only takes a few moments for the game to go from a showcase to something serious.

“If you are playing anybody and they knock one in on you or steal the ball,” Ford explained, “you don’t want to be embarrassed out there. It’s the competitive nature out there. That’s what usually happens. In the game of basketball it only takes a couple ... you got a couple of ringers out there and you can hang in there.”

Taylor said the reception from the tour has been well received, especially in the smaller towns in North Carolina.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” Taylor said. “The players know it’s for the fans so they try to give them a good show.”

According to Ford, there is never a problem getting the ACC seniors to sign on for the event, saying “the tradition speaks for itself.”

General admission tickets for the game are only $10 pre sale with a limited number of VIP tickets available for $50.

VIP tickets include a post-game reception with the ACC players and reserved front row seating during the game. Tickets are available online at or by phone at 704-246-3816. Tickets are also available at Weldon High School.

A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House and Weldon High School.

“The guys are very enthusiastic about the game.” Ford said. “It’s not like they just go out there and slop it. I think the fans will enjoy it.”

Basketball: Ford makes stop in New Bern

Phil Ford had some of his best high school games against New Bern. To his recollection, playing basketball in Rocky Mount, he once scored 54 points, a career-high, in a playoff game versus New Bern.

Ford, University of North Carolina’s second all-time leading scorer, stopped by New Bern on Friday to answer questions from the media and the audience at The Epiphany School.

Ford’s true reason for the visit was to promote the upcoming ACC Barnstorming Tour, which takes flight in April in eight cities in Virginia and North Carolina.

The final stop, on Apr. 25, will be at the Epiphany School.

“I just enjoy basketball and I enjoy being around basketball fans,” Ford said. “There is so much enthusiasm from the players and the fans. It’s a fun family night, and I am happy to be a part of it.”

The tour will bring every senior from the basketball teams of North Carolina, Duke, N.C. State and Wake Forest.

The group of players includes North Carolina’s Leslie McDonald, Wade Moody, Denzel Robinson and James Manor, along with Duke’s Tyler Thornton, Josh Hairston, Andre Dawkins and Todd Zafirovski. N.C. State big man Jordan Vandenberg and Wake’s Coron Williams and Travis McKie will also be on hand.

The event will include an exhibition game, a 3-point shootout and a slam dunk competition.

Seniors playing competitive basketball at New Bern High, Havelock, West Craven and Pamlico, as well as former basketball players, are invited to challenge the ACC Barnstormers.

Tickets will be sold in advance for $15 at the Epiphany School, New Bern Sporting Goods and Famous Restaurant. A limited number of VIP tickets will be on sale for $75.

“I think this is a very good location for it,” said T.J. Taylor, the event coordinator. “This is my first time here and it is a very nice gym. It’s going to see out, and an amazing atmosphere.”

Ford, who toured with the Barnstormers as a senior at UNC in 1978, will coach the ACC all-stars.

“It’s a tradition that’s been going on in the ACC before I graduated from North Carolina,” Ford said. “It’s a tradition of going around to different gyms in the state of North Carolina, playing a game.”

Ford was a three-time NCAA All-American, the National Player of the Year in 1978 and NBA Rookie of the Year in 1979. He played in the 1976 Olympics.

Ford was an assistant at North Carolina from 1988-2000.

But through his days at his native town to his college days at North Carolina and his time as a professional, Ford, who grew to be 6-foot-2, could never dunk a basketball.

Ford recently had his book published, “The Kid Who Couldn’t Dunk,” to motivate the youth.

 “I was approached by a buddy of mine, a former sports editor, about all the bullying going around in schools, and how kids always think they have to be the best or the smartest or the toughest or most athletic,” Ford said. “I had success as a basketball player and I wasn’t the most athletic guy in the world. I never dunked.

“We thought it would be helpful for kids.”

Ford’s father and mother were both teachers. His father was a sports fanatic who drove the Activity bus for the school’s athletic events.

At age five or six, that’s when Ford started picking up a basketball.

“My dad was a big sports fan, so I liked to play basketball, football and baseball,” Ford said. “He would let me go to some of the road games and let me sit on the bus.

“I would be in the gym with my dad and they would give me a ball to shoot.”

Even at 58-years old, Ford can’t get enough of the roundball.

Catching Up With: Phil Ford

Phil Ford misses the practices. Teaching players. Inspiring players. Watching them get better.

That’s why the former North Carolina All-America — fired alongside the rest of the Charlotte Bobcats’ coaching staff more than a year ago — can sometimes be found at the Smith Center these days, watching his alma mater prepare for its next game.

“I just love to watch Coach [Roy] Williams practice,’’ Ford, the second-leading scorer in UNC history, said in an interview this week. “Its been great, for me, just to be able to be near the game … and in a place I love.”

Ford, who starred at UNC from 1974-78 (where he was maestro of the Four Corners offense), and was also an assistant coach for the Tar Heels from 1988-2000, moved to Raleigh after serving as a Bobcats assistant coach for more than three seasons.

He stays busy on the speaking circuit, is involved in vitamin sales and is developing the Phil Ford Foundation, with which he wants to help fight childhood obesity.

“I had a basketball camp last fall, and there was a kid there that was really overweight, and I got really close to him … and after talking to people and doing a lot of research, I just think that’s a humongous problem in our country today,’’ he said. “And I think helping find a solution is the right thing to do.”

Still, coaching is never more here

UNC All-American Phil Ford joins UMF men’s hoops in practice

FARMINGTON, Maine – Phil Ford, former All-American and John Wooden Award winner with the University of North Carolina men's basketball team and later an assistant coach under both Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge, paid a visit to the University of Maine at Farmington and worked with the men's basketball program on Friday.

Friday's session was the first of two with UMF men's basketball during Ford's two-day visit to UMaine-Farmington.

Ford's visit was coordinated and arranged by Michael Sumner, a classmate of Ford's at UNC and father of UMF junior guard Pet Sumner (Cramerton, N.C./Gaston Day). Ford, who has coached the annual ACC Barnstorming Tour team sponsored by Sumner's marketing firm, The Sumner Group, worked individually with Pet Sumner on some skill development during the spring 2013 tour.

During that time, Ford promised Pet he would come up to Farmington to work with the entire team this fall.

"Phil coached the team every year and started working with me on some ball handling drills, and when the tour was over I asked him to come up for one of our games." said Pet Sumner. "He surprised me and said 'I will do better, ask your Coach if I can come up and work with your team'." Sumner continued, "I checked it out with Coach Meader and he was delighted, and scheduled two sessions for him this weekend to come in and work with the team."  

Ford was a consensus All-American for the Tar Heels in 1977 and 1978, winning Wooden Award honors as the national collegiate player of the year in 1978. He was also named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year in 1978, and finished his career at North Carolina as the program's all-time leading scorer with 2,290 points.

Ford also started for the 1976 U.S. Olympic men's basketball that won the Gold medal at the Summer games in more here

Phil Ford coming to local GoodHoops basketball camp

Sitting out this past basketball season and missing an entire semester of classes gave Pet Sumner ample free time to think about things.

Something the 2010 Gaston Day School graduate had wanted to do was run his own basketball camp that teaches athletes how to keep a positive attitude on the court. And then one day he visited the Gastonia Central YMCA basketball court and had an encounter with an 8-year-old who threatened to stab him for no apparent reason.

“That’s when I told my dad I’ve got to get serious about this,” Sumner said.

Sumner is organizing the GoodHoops basketball camp, which is set for July 15-19 at more here

Book a Public Appearance    Motivational Speaking    Individual Instruction & Camps