If there ever was a player who shoots from the hip it's Antawn Jamison - and from seemingly everywhere else.
Jamison's unconventional style, one that sees him deliver his quick shot from countless angles, has left opponents of the North Carolina junior All-American shaking their heads in defenseless dismay."It just goes in," teammate Ademola Okulaja said when asked to describe Jamison's shot, which has produced 22.4 points a game and 58.6 percent shooting. "It can be pretty or it can be ugly, but if it goes in, shoot it. We don't even try to describe it. As long as he makes it we're happy and he's happy - we're all happy."
In a season of surprises in the NCAA tournament, Jamison is far and away the biggest individual star in this year's Final Four. The 6-foot-9 forward is bidding to become the first North Carolina player since Billy Cunningham in 1965 to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds and has been described as the program's best player since Michael Jordan.
Coach Bill Guthridge calls him a warrior who gives 100 percent on every possession.
"How would I stop him?" Guthridge asked. "Try and keep him from getting the ball, which is what most teams try to do. But Antawn is very good moving without the basketball."
With the ball, Jamison has moved into seventh place on North Carolina's all-time scoring list (1,960 points) and fourth in rebounding (1,015), and if he returns for his senior season will likely become the Atlantic Coast Conference's all-time leading scorer.
Despite all the offensive numbers - which include 50 double-doubles - Jamison is an unassuming star who talked more this week about work ethic, leadership and helping defend Utah's Michael Doleac than scoring points.
Just the other day, Jamison stopped one of North Carolina's practices to hand out credit to 270-pound freshman center Brendan Haywood, who dived to the floor for a loose ball.
"A lot of players realize while you're out there in practice if you're not giving 100 percent you better watch out for Antawn because he is really going to get on our back," Jamison said. "I am one of those guys that gives 100 percent every time I'm in practice, and I try to do the same out there in the court."
In that sense, Jamison is the perfect leader by example for the No. 1 Tar Heels (34-3), always moving without the ball and often in front of the pack in the Tar Heels' fast break.
"He has a tenacious work ethic on the floor and he plays hard, real hard," said teammate Vince Carter.
Jamison, maybe more than any other North Carolina player, set the tone for the team in the offseason after a disappointing loss to eventual national champion Arizona in last year's NCAA tournament semifinals.
"We probably played the best 10 to 15 minutes of basketball we had ever played," Jamison said of last year's Final Four defeat to the Wildcats. "We were so much on a high. To be that close and to play so well early on and then the second half for things to fall apart, it hurt."