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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 carolinabarnstorming.com 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.”

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