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NBA Stars Graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill

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CHAPEL HILL — Two former UNC basketball stars who left school early are in the news for all the right reasons after a week where the headlines have been dominated with news of professional athletes gone bad.

Jerry Stackhouse and Antawn Jamison donned Carolina blue once again at the Dean E. Smith Center Saturday. But this time, they wore caps and gowns instead of basketball jerseys, and picked up their diplomas.

Stackhouse left the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the NBA after his sophomore year, where he was 50 credits short of graduating.

Four years later, however, he returned to claim a degree in African Amercian studies that he earned during summer school.

"I remember getting out of my last exam, knowing I was done," said Stackhouse. "The first thing I did, I went to the basketball office and gave everybody a hug and a kiss and told them I was done."

Antawn Jamison was just nine credits short when he left UNC as a junior in 1998.

Both players say graduating from college is a bigger victory than any they have won on the hardwood.

"It's a feeling of enjoyment, the dedication of the last couple of years, staying focused, accomplishing what you need to accomplish," said Jamison, who also majored in African American studies. "It feels great."

Both players promised their parents they would finish college.

Friends and family, including Stackhouse's three-month-old daughter, watched with pride as the players turned their tassels.

The Detroit Pistons helped Stackhouse celebrate at Saturday's game against the 76ers. College students get in for $10, and fans who wore their caps and gowns got in for free.