Hoop-A-Thon Rivalry Comes to a Close

Two back-to-back Hoop-A-Thons, hosted by former All-Americans Nolan Smith of Duke and Brice Johnson of UNC, were held on Saturday in Chapel Hill and Sunday in Durham. Funds raised are being put toward Teen Cancer America’s cancer programs and spaces for teens and young adults facing cancer.

Along with members of the current Blue Devil and Tar Heel hoop squads, former players who participated this year included Gerald Henderson, Trevon Duval, Shammond Williams, Joel James and Jawad Williams. 

A travelling trophy will be awarded by Teen Cancer America to the Duke for raising the most money in during the Hoop-A-Thon contest.

Smith, who serves as Director of Basketball Operations at Duke under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, is a former ACC Player of the Year who led Duke to the 2010 national title. He became a TCA ambassador in 2016 and has hosted Hoop-A-Thons at Duke for the past two years, with appearances by star players including Jayson Tatum, Grayson Allen, RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson and several others. 

Johnson, a close friend of Smith’s, has participated in the previous Hoop-A-Thons along with other Tar Heel players including Nate Britt and the legendary Phil Ford. A former consensus All-American who led the Tar Heels to the 2016 national championship game, Johnson officially became a TCA ambassador in 2019 and the idea for rival Hoop-A-Thons was born. 

“Brice has supported the TCA Hoop-A-Thon since the beginning, showing a side of the Duke-Carolina rivalry that most folks never see,” said Smith. “I was so excited when he became a TCA ambassador and we started planning these competing events, which will raise even more money for Teen Cancer America and the amazing work they do.” 

The TCA Hoop-A-Thons, sponsored by First Citizens Bank with support from The Special Event Company and French West Vaughan, were held August 24th at the Dean E. Smith Center practice facility at UNC and August 25th at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. Sports talk station 99.9 the Fan was the event’s official radio partner. Additional event contributions were made on behalf of bR3 Studio Durham, Mati and Nike.

Of the event and sponsorship, First Citizens Bank’s Chief Strategy Officer Jeff Ward comments, “First Citizens and all our associates are humbled by TCA’s work, and we’re proud to sponsor the programming, support and teen cancer units that are starting to take shape in the Triangle and beyond. But we need the wider community’s partnership to help as many teens and young adults as we can.”

“Nolan’s work with TCA, helping young people fighting cancer at Duke and UNC hospitals, definitely inspired me,” Johnson said. “This is just my first year. I’m excited for what is happening, and I’m ready to do bigger and better things next year.”