After a nail-biter of a game on April 1, when the Tar Heels pulled the win over Oregon, they’re headed to the NCAA championship! And, you know it’s Joel Berry’s time to shine! Although he’s battled multiple ankle injuries, Berry’s been unstoppable. Here’s 5 things to know about him!
You’re going to want to keep your eyes on Joel Berry II, 22, when he and the Tar Heels take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs for the NCAA championship tonight, April 3! He’s been North Carolina’s backbone throughout the season, especially during this year’s March Madness tournament. Here’s five key things to know about Berry before he hopefully leads NC to take it all!
1. Joel is a Florida native and a junior at UNC.
Originally from Apopka, FL, Joel is an exercise and sport science major at the University of North Carolina. He’s made a name for himself at UNC for being one of the team’s most prolific scorers. Berry’s success behind the arc is unmatched, especially under pressure.
He is certainly checking off his list pretty quickly and it’s only his junior year. Berry is a star player for UNC, a prominent shooter, he’s won an ACC regular-season championship, he’s won an ACC tournament, and he’s made it to the NCAA championship. Now, all he needs is to win tonight!
2. He was named the ACC tournament MVP in 2016.
Hard work payed off for Berry in March 2016, when he led UNC to their first ACC tournament title since 2008. He actually became the 18th Tar Heel and the second UNC point guard to win the MVP honor. His offense was impeccable during that game [no surprise], and he set the tone for the team’s defense and they followed in his footsteps. Berry scored a game-high 19 points in the championship against Virginia.
3. His attitude is phenomenal.
Aside from his insane skills, Berry’s attitude is part of the reason UNC has made it this far. He is always evaluating himself and takes responsibility when needed. Although he’s not a very religious person, he believes that good thoughts will end in good rewards. Every night, he lays on his back, closes his eyes and measure his breaths, he told Sports Illustrated in Dec. 2016. “If you want to be something,” he told the site, “… all you have to do is tell yourself, ‘I can be that,’ and it’ll come true.”
After his freshman season at UNC didn’t turn out the way he had thought — when his team lost to Villanova in the championship [77-74] — Berry took some time to reflect. And, he never took the easy way out when it came to evaluating why things didn’t go according to plan. “Sometimes as human beings we look at things outside of ourselves, and try to blame it on other things,” Berry said. “… instead of just looking within ourselves and saying, ‘Maybe I need to change something.’” Incredible. His attitude has a lot to do with his father, Joel Berry Sr., who’s taught him the art of meditation.
4. When he’s not leading UNC to victory, Berry’s dancing his way to the top.
Seriously though, this kid loves to dance, and we’re obsessed. He posts countless videos where he’s dancing with his teammates and even his family. This makes us love him even more… And, he’s certainly got some impressive moves.
5. And, a final update before tonight’s big game? …
Berry said he’s feeling “better” despite his injure ankles. In the first round of March Madness, he injured his right ankle when UNC played Texas Southern. Then, he re-sprained it during practice before UNC played Kentucky. Then, he injured his other ankle [left] when UNC took on Kentucky once again during the South Regional Championship.
“I actually feel better,” Berry said inside University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday, April 2. “I woke up this morning and didn’t have any stiffness. That was my biggest worry. And I was able to get right up out of bed and just walk normally.” Berry, who’s been getting rehab for his injuries, also admitted that his ankles are “feeling pretty good.” He said that although he’s still in pain, he’s got to give it his all. Hopefully Berry’s injuries don’t play a factor in his performance against Gonzaga tonight. Go Heels!
HollywoodLifers, give us your thoughts on tonight’s NCAA championship game!