Jerry Stackhouse will soon be an NBA head coach. The former All-American at the University of North Carolina and NBA All-Star has quietly been putting in work as the head coach for the Raptors 905, Toronto’s G League affiliate, which won last year’s championship, garnering Stackhouse the league’s 2017 coach of the year award.
A hot commodity for an open NBA gig, Stack has already interviewed for the open Knicks job, and rumors are circulating that the Charlotte Hornets and Orlando Magic plan to interview him for their coaching vacancies as well.
We caught up with Stack a few years back to give some context to who he is beyond basketball. It seemed like a good time to rewind some of that conversation now that he’s about to step back into the glare of the national spotlight.
Collection of famous dunks from two of the greatest: Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse. The Heels win in Double OT in this famous Duke/UNC battle. Stackhouse’s “Donkey Kong” Dunk might be the most famous in College Basketball History. Rasheed Wallace terrified Cameron with his 2nd Half put-back Slam
The Shadow League: Talk about being the baby of the family and having eleven siblings, which included seven older brothers.
Jerry Stackhouse: Some of them were older, so I was really only home with about four of them. I have nieces and nephews that are older than me. Some of my brothers were in high school and middle school when I was young. But family reunion time and the holidays were always big for me because thats when everybody would come back and the basketball court was where we would congregate.
TSL: What was the significance of the basketball court in your upbringing?
JS: As far as I can remember, thats how I tested myself growing up. My brother Avery would play one-on-one with me. Thats where I got my confidence. Hed let me win a little bit, and when Id start getting a big head, then hed start playing like a man. Thats where my competitiveness comes from, always wanting to win, no matter who I played against, even if they were older.
TSL: Did all of your brothers have some size to them? And I imagine that you took different elements from each of their skill sets.
JS: All of my brothers are over six-feet and they all had different styles. My brother Thomas was a shooter. Avery was the tough guy, he was only 6-foot-4 but he always played in the post and liked mixing it up with guys bigger than him. Greg was a shooter as well and my brother Tony was an unbelievable scorer who should have had a long career in the NBA. I tried to take some things from each of their games and their personalities. They never backed down from anyone.
TSL: Tony played briefly in the NBA when you were younger. What did you take away from his pro experiences?
If you talk to the people that played against him in the CBA and the leagues over in Europe, one of the first things theyll say is, Man, Tony Dawson could put that thing in the hole. He had a couple of ten-day stints with Boston and Sacramento in the NBA and theyd try to invite him back for veterans camp, but he went with the sure thing of full-year contracts overseas. Thats where I got my desire to want to play at the top level, from him. He was the one that I was able to watch play college basketball as I was coming up as a middle-schooler. Thats what made me want to excel, especially watching him not get drafted.
TSL: How did you feel when he didnt get drafted?
That was probably one of the most hurtful times of my life because he was projected at a late first round or early second round pick. We all huddled around the television, watching the draft in 1989 and it didnt happen. That motivated and fueled me to take it to another level in my preparation and competitiveness on the court. At the same time, he had a reputation for having a bad temper and a bad attitude. I dont know if that hampered his success but I channeled all that stuff. I wanted to make sure that I didnt fall in that same category and got held back due to something beside the game of basketball.
New Raptors 905 head coach, Jerry Stackhouse, was a great player during his tenure in the NBA. Lets look back at his best career highlights! About the NBA: The NBA is the premier professional basketball league in the United States and Canada.
TSL: Were you more of a wing player or a post guy when you were younger?
I was about 6-foot-4 when I was in the eighth grade. I thought I was going to be a 7-footer. So I was more of a power forward. I had the ability to handle the ball, step out on the wing and do some different things, but I spent most of my time down low. The first time I ever really played shooting guard was in the NBA. Most people dont realize that.
TSL: You were notorious for having one of the meanest knuckle games in the league. Im guessing that you got that from getting knocked around by your brothers.
JS: Watching my brothers, thats how they handled things. We were tough on each other but we always stuck together when it came to those types of situations. When you have a lot of Alpha males and testosterone in the house, youre going to have those types of challenges growing up. We had our dustups, and then that was it. Thats how I thought it was, so when I had misunderstandings with teammates and other players and you got into something physical, after that it was over.
TSL: I remember how you handled Jeff Hornacek. I think he quickly regretted squaring up on you after you lumped him up with that mean combination.
JS: A lot of people go back to the Jeff Hornacek situation. I felt like it cost me the Rookie of the Year award. I dont know what he was thinking when he was rushing at me, but my natural reaction was to protect myself. I never started any of the altercations that I had. I was never the protagonist. My dad always told me, If somebody hits you, you hit them back.
I learned growing up that, sometimes, you had to take some lumps. I couldnt come in the house crying, talking about somebody hit me or beat me up, no matter who it was. I didnt win them all, but I won most of them.
TSL: Both of your parents were the children of sharecroppers. How did their work ethic influence you?
JS: The athletic toughness came from my brothers, but the overall toughness comes from my parents. I grew up hearing stories about them working in the cotton and tobacco fields. My mom only finished the tenth grade and my dad finished the fifth. They had to go to work to support their families.
I think my mom could have been anything she wanted in life. Shes as smart as anybody that youll ever meet. Shes a people person, very caring and compassionate. She wants to help people. She would give people the last of whatever we had. If we didnt have anything but sugar and somebody wanted to borrow some, she would give them half of what we had.
TSL: What about your dad?
My dad was different. Hed be like, This is all weve got. They need to go and get their own. I had a blend of both of their personalities. They taught me how to view people and decipher different situations. My dad was like a super hero to me, in terms of how he worked and provided for us. His full-time job was as a sanitation truck driver. He never missed a day of work.
And after he got off work, he mowed lawns, did masonry, cut down trees or did electrical work. He did it to provide for us. We were probably living below the poverty level, but they always provided for us. I never wanted for anything. To me, I felt like we were rich.
TSL: You were a gifted baseball and football player growing up. Was basketball your favorite sport?
JS: I was a bigger football fan when I was younger. I wanted to play pro football. To me, that was the tougher sport. I played linebacker, quarterback, running back and wide receiver. I always felt like sports would be a part of my future. I think basketball chose me, more so than me choosing basketball.
I found some old school VHS tapes of Jerry Stackhouse back in high school and I converted them over to fcp so I could make a highlight reel. This is footage from 1992 and it also features Charlie McNairy, Webb Tyndall, and Chuck Jones.
TSL: When did you give up other sports to concentrate solely on hoops?
JS: I was going out for the varsity football team during my freshman year in high school. I came home from practice one day and the principal, the athletic director, the basketball coach, and my junior high school basketball coach were all sitting in my living room. They said, We really feel like you have a great chance of really being special at basketball and in our opinion, we dont think you should play football.
TSL: How did you react?
JS: I fought it because all of my friends were playing. That was the sport I loved the most. That was a damper for me, but I listened to their advice and focused on basketball. I ran track in the spring to work on my speed. I ran the 100 and the 200. I was a 6-foot-5 power forward and a sprinter. But that was tough, listening to them tell me that they didnt want me to play football. But I put all of my energy into basketball and started going to different camps in the summer.
TSL: What was it besides the obvious athletic talent that separated you from the other players in high school? I can still remember the awe in peoples voices when they talked about you when you were just an underclassman in high school.
JS: I see the kids now, and they have all of these unbelievable skills. But they never develop that ability to truly want to compete, to want to win. Most kids say they want to win, but they arent willing to work as hard as possible and do what it takes to be a consistent winner. There were plenty of people that I played against that had more skill than me, but they didnt have enough Go-Hard to beat me.
In college, when I got around Coach Smith and Coach Ford, thats when I really began to develop some real skills. I built my skill level up, but I always had a love of competing and doing what was necessary to win.
TSL: By your junior year in high school, I remember people mentioning you along with Worthy, Jordan and Dominique as one of the best to ever play high school basketball in the state of North Carolina. When did that proverbial light bulb go off, when you knew that you had a chance to do some special things in this game?
JS: When I started to beat my brothers, when I started to punish them, thats when I knew that I was getting there. Tony was the last one that I was able to beat. And we had to stop playing against each other because it would always break out into a fight. Mom and dad made us stop playing. Once it got to that point, we had to play on the same team. We were both so competitive that there would be riots in our yard.
TSL: What about when you played against other guys that had big names and reputations?
JS: My sophomore year in high school, Donald Williams was one of the best players in the state. We were in the same AAU program, the Raleigh Stars, but he was a rising senior on the 17-and-under team and I was on the 15-and-under team. We scrimmaged them at Cardinal Gibbons high school in Raleigh and we beat them. I had 58 points and was like, Wow! Thats when I knew.
TSL: Did you play against them again?
JS: We did, in the state tournament. I had 54 points in that game, but Donald hit a shot at the buzzer to beat us. But thats when it all began to come together for me. Bob Gibbons, the big talent scout, was at that game. He put my name out there on the national stage and said that I was a right-handed version of Rodney Rogers.
TSL: Man, Rodney Rogers played some muscular, grown man basketball.
JS: That spoke to the power that was a major part of my game at that time. He wasnt comparing me to any guards. Later, the Michael Jordan comparisons came along because I was 6-foot-6 and coming out of North Carolina, but those comparisons were never accurate because I didnt play the guard position until I got to the pros.
I didnt work on ball-handling and pick and roll situations in high school. But on the wing, my thing was the isolation. I was like, Give me the ball and Im gonna take my man. I could penetrate against anybody on the wing because of my first step and my quickness.
Jerry Stackhouse scored 27 in the 1993 McDonald’s All American Game in Memphis. Footage includes highlights from that Game.
TSL: You decided to leave Kinston High School and play your senior year at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. What factored into that decision?
JS: I was playing on an AAU team out of Charlotte at the time and Jeff McInnis was the point guard on the team. We had such a good chemistry playing together. I never played with a point guard who could throw the alley-oop like he could, or get me the ball every time in the exact spot that put me at an advantage.
We had the same mentality in terms of going as hard as possible and always wanting to compete. We just hit it off and he was like, Hey Stack, you need to come to Oak Hill so we can play together.
TSL: Given how close you were with your family, that must have been a tough decision.
JS: I come from a small town where a lot of people want to see you do well. But there are also a lot of people who dont want to see you do well. I saw little things that were happening and even though that was my home, where I had grown up my whole life, I didnt want to have anything get me off track. I was so close to my dream of going to college. I didnt want anything to get in the way of that.
TSL: Looking back, how did that experience at Oak Hill benefit you?
JS: A lot of people go there because they need help in terms of getting their academics in order. But I already had good grades and my qualifying scores. I wound up having the second-highest GPA in my graduating class at Oak Hill. But I was able to do things on my own.
I became the mother hen of the dorm. I took all of those skills that I learned from my mom, so I was always cooking, or having some food on the grill. I would help people do their laundry. I was the barber who cut everybodys hair. I was also a tutor, helping other guys out with some of their work.
TSL: What about the basketball part of the equation?
JS: It was great. We went all around the country playing against the top teams. We went to Hawaii, Vegas, D.C., everywhere. From the standpoint of being able to play against tough competition day in and day out, you couldnt beat it.
TSL: Before Oak Hill, what do you remember about some of those first times you played against great players from other parts of the country?
JS: When I was a ninth and tenth-grader, Mr. Ernie Lorch brought me up to New York to play some AAU ball with the Riverside Church Hawks. So I was testing myself against people from around the country at an early age. Some of my older brothers lived in D.C., so I would spend some time up there in the summer. So, I was playing against some of the best players from New York and D.C. and having some success.
Raptors 905 Coach Jerry Stackhouse reflects on his basketball career and how it’s shaped his coaching philosophy in the NBA D-League The NBA Development League is the NBA’s official minor league. Fans can get a glimpse at the players, coaches and officials competing to ascend to the NBA’s rank.
TSL: So you already had confidence once you got to the prestigious Nike camps where all of the top players would battle.
JS: Yeah, when the Nike camps came around, I already felt like I didnt care where somebody was from, or what their reputation was. I was gonna give it to ’em. Youd hear these other names, like Rasheed Wallace, and the Nike camp was where you met everybody that had a name.
People were saying that Rasheed, Randy Livingston and I were the top players in the country. So the Nike camp was where you finally got a chance to see those guys, compete against them and test yourself.
TSL: You and Rasheed wound up at North Carolina together and did some magnificent things as a duo in college. Tell me about the first time you guys went at it at the Nike camp.
JS: The first time I played against Rasheed, I got off early in the game and my team won. But man, in the second half, this dude became another person. There wasnt anything anybody could do with that dude. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, could stop Rasheed Wallace.
Luckily, we had a big enough lead where they couldnt come back. That was the first time I really played against a guy that, no matter what a defense did, he could score the ball in so many different ways.
Segments on the Tar Heel careers of Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and Antawn Jamison.
TSL: Did you have an idea that you guys might team up later in college?
JS: I had no idea that wed be teammates in college. But the way we competed against each other, there was a bond right away. We developed that at the Nike camp, a mutual respect for one another. We started hanging out together and became inseparable.
TSL: Was the basis of that bond your similarities in terms of being so competitive?
JS: A lot of guys are happy to be ranked in the top 50 or the top 20. But that wasnt our mentality. Our mentality was to be THE BEST PLAYER IN THE COUNTRY! During our senior year in high school, my Oak Hill team was undefeated and his team at Simon Gratz in Philadelphia was undefeated.
We were hoping that wed get a chance to play against each other and settle that debate for the mythical national championship. But it never happened. We wanted to be the best. We went at each other.
TSL: You were being recruited by every basketball power in the country. Did any school other than the University of North Carolina have a chance of getting you?
JS: Yeah, my brother went to Florida State, so I thought about going to FSU. North Carolina State was there too. And I really liked the University of Virginia. But when you looked at all of the players that came out of UNC, the success they had, and me being from North Carolina, it was hard to tell Dean Smith no.
TSL: With you being the baby, did your mom encourage you to stay close to home when the recruitment started heating up?
JS: Ill tell you a funny story about my mom. Steve Fisher came to my house on a recruiting visit, trying to get me to commit to Michigan. Dean Smith was scheduled to come to the house a few hours after that. My mom got some donuts and some coffee for Steve Fisher. When he left, she went into the kitchen and got busy. She cooked up some cabbage, some corn and some pork chops. She never told me what school she wanted me to go to, but I could tell.
TSL: Yeah, that wasnt a subtle hint.
JS: Yeah, when Dean Smith came over and she was feeding him pork chops, when Steve Fisher got the coffee and donuts, I knew which way she wanted me to go.
TSL: Even though UNC won the National Championship the year before with Eric Montross, Donald Williams and George Lynch, it was evident that when you and Rasheed arrived, that you guys were the teams best two players. How frustrating was it to not start and get limited playing time during your freshman year?
JS: That was one of the toughest things. I wasnt happy, knowing that I deserved to play more. I felt like I was transferring after every game. I was seeing what Joe Smith was doing with the opportunities and playing time that he was being given at Maryland, and I was playing half the game, even though I was working these guys out in practice.
TSL: How did you deal with that frustration?
JS: I used to go to Coach Smiths office and try to get an explanation as to why I wasnt playing more. Rasheed and I were beating a group in practice that were National Champions and felt like we should have been on the court more than just a few minutes a game.
TSL: What did Coach Smith tell you?
JS: He told me that I should try to focus on me and Brian Reese being the best small forward tandem in the country. But I was 18 years old, and told Dean Smith, I can be the best small forward in the country all by myself. I dont need Brian Reese to do that.
Highly Questionable with Dan Le Batard and Bomani Jones airs weekdays at 3:30 PM ET on ESPN2. We can’t promise ‘Stack scrappin everyday, but we have fun.
TSL: Was there a moment when the frustration crystallized?
JS: After one game, I was really down. I went back to my dorm and saw my mom. I told her, Im sick of this. Im going someplace else. And she told me, If you start running now, youll run forever. That hit me hard, because I aint no runner. The lightbulb flashed on right then and there and I realized that I just needed to suck it up.
TSL: So what happened from there?
JS: From that point on, everything turned. I started working harder, diving for loose balls in practice, competing harder than I ever had. And I started getting more playing time. The next thing you know, I was the MVP of the ACC Tournament that year. A UNC freshman hadnt done that since Sam Perkins and Phil Ford.
TSL: Looking back on it now with some life perspective, how do you view your freshman year?
JS: I didnt know all of the dynamics that came with being a senior at North Carolina. When youre in the middle of something, sometimes you dont see the bigger picture. Coach Smith had a system and a hierarchy that superseded me wanting to show everybody that I was the best player in the country. Now, I understand what that was all about and Im glad that he did it that way.
JS: If I was a senior and had given my time to the program like those guys did, had won a National Championship, I feel like I would have deserved the nod over a freshman.
TSL: Do you wish you handled the situation differently and been more patient?
JS: One part of me wishes I had just shut up a little bit more and allowed the process of natural selection to take place. I wish I didnt push as hard as I did. But theres also a part of me that says that if I didnt push as hard and try to carve out a place for me during my freshman year, would I just now be walking away from the game some 19 years later? I dont know the answer to that.
TSL: That freshman year ended unceremoniously with a second round loss to Boston College. How tough was that defeat, knowing that you guys had the talent to win it all?
JS: That was very tough to swallow. We played a tough team that seemed to hit every big shot. They had a great backcourt with Howard Eisley and you can go far in the tournament when you have excellent guards. I remember that BC got hot, that Bill Curley was up for the challenge of matching up against Eric Montross. It was a close game that we had a chance to win at the end, but we didnt get it done.
There were some tough lessons that we learned that year, but it fueled us to come back the next year and make a heck of a run to the Final Four.
TSL: I thought you guys were better than Arkansas and UCLA the next year. Why do you think you didnt win the title?
JS: Rasheed was hurt coming into the Final Four and he wasnt able to play at the level that hed played at all season. I took a knee in the thigh during one of the first plays of the game. Our teammate Dante Calabria, who was the countrys best three-point shooter, went 1 for 10 from the field in that game. It just wasnt in the cards for us. And even if wed beaten Arkansas to go to the National Championship game, I dont know if I could have even played because my leg was swollen so bad.
TSL: You turned pro after your sophomore year, but you had an innate competitive fire and hunger, on top of your skills, that made you ready for the NBA. A lot of these kids leaving school early today dont seem to have the skills or the heart that you had.
All these guys that are talking about being ready to come into the league, they better re-think this thing. When you come into the NBA, its real. Youre talking about guys jobs, their livelihood, and they take it very seriously. I encourage these kids, if youre ready, by all means come out.
But if you have any doubt in your mind, stay in school and give yourself an opportunity to be prepared for the business. Because the NBA is not the camaraderie or the fun that college basketball is. Guys want your job and theyll do anything they can to take it.
One thing that Adidas Nations Camp strives to do, is teach the players the game. And who better than a NBA Vet with 19 Seasons under his belt to do the teaching. 2x NBA All-Star Jerry Stackhouse, who averaged 29.8 points a game one season and had some famous 1-on-1 games against Michael Jordan was a standout player at every level of basketball.
TSL: One of the NCAA Tournament games that I was most excited to ever see was you and Rasheed against Allen Iverson and Georgetown in the Sweet 16 in 1995. What do you remember about that game?
JS: Well, first of all, I was the biggest Georgetown fan in the world when I was growing up. That was where I wanted to play my college ball. But they didnt recruit me. I guess John Thompson figured that I wasnt going to leave the state of North Carolina.
But that full court press of theirs and their aggressive philosophy, I loved it. I had the Hoyas Starter jacket and the whole nine! Had John Thompson put the full court press on me during my recruitment, I would have been a Hoya. Thats real talk!
TSL: Iverson at Georgetown was unreal. Were you hyped for that match-up?
JS: Allen Iverson and I had played each other in AAU ball, when his Boo Williams team beat my team, so there was a little history there. And they had Othella Harrington, who was considered one of the best players in the country coming out of high school. That was a big game.
TSL: What do you remember about the actual game?
JS: I remember the genius of Dean Smith. Georgetown was a big help team on defense that loved to press. Coach Smith turned me into a facilitator that game. When I penetrated, theyd converge on me, so I was throwing bounce passes and lob passes to Rasheed. It is definitely one of the college games that Ill always remember.
Allen Iverson 24pts G’town vs Rasheed Wallace & Jerry Stackhouse North Carolina 94/95 NCAA *RARE* Game!!
For those who were there at McDonough Gymnasium on August 4, 1994, few will forget the arrival of a 6-0 freshman guard who needed no introduction. The rumors of Allen Iverson’s arrival to the Kenner Summer League were true, and by game’s end, Iverson had scored 40 points.
TSL: I recall that you had half of your teams assists in that game. So in practice, Dean Smith put that wrinkle in there, to have you attack the defense as a passer?
JS: Yeah, he did something different for that game and put the ball in my hands. I normally played both forward positions, but with Georgetowns pressing and trapping, I was waiting to get the ball off of every trap and he told me to attack the basket and to be aggressive. He knew that they would leave their man to stop me, which would open the rim up for Rasheed and our other bigs.
TSL: Im sure he knew that your future as a pro would be as a shooting guard. When he implemented the game plan, what were you thinking?
JS: I was excited for the challenge. When they swung the ball to me, I just attacked and put the pressure on the defense to see what would open up. And what opened up were a lot of easy baskets for Rasheed. And we were able to beat them pretty soundly.
TSL: You were ferocious on the court, but many people dont know that you had a similar determination in the classroom. Why was it so important to you, to come back every summer and work toward completing the academic requirements for your Bachelors Degree?
JS: When I decided to leave school early, I promised my mom and Coach Smith that I was going to come back and finish. It took me four years after I left but it was well worth it. Aside from my athletic accomplishments, getting my degree was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.
Jerry Stackhouse goes under and around for the emphatic one-handed slam in the Tar Heels win at Duke in 1995. Rasheed Wallace also gets in on the action.
TSL: I think that the comparisons to Jordan were very unfair. You were a much different player than he was. Did being compared to Mike ever bother you?
JS: I was just focused on trying to be good at what I was doing. I found my niche, so I wasnt worried about the expectations or comparisons to Michael Jordan. It was flattering, but Dude, I never played the shooting guard position a day in my life before I got to the NBA in 1995.
So I never felt, realistically, that there was any pressure on me. The only thing I was concerned with was carving out my own path. And today, I can live with the results of the work that I put in.