UNC All-American Phil Ford joins UMF men’s hoops in practice

UNC All-American Phil Ford joins UMF men’s hoops in practice

FARMINGTON, Maine – Phil Ford, former All-American and John Wooden Award winner with the University of North Carolina men's basketball team and later an assistant coach under both Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge, paid a visit to the University of Maine at Farmington and worked with the men's basketball program on Friday.

Friday's session was the first of two with UMF men's basketball during Ford's two-day visit to UMaine-Farmington.

Ford's visit was coordinated and arranged by Michael Sumner, a classmate of Ford's at UNC and father of UMF junior guard Pet Sumner (Cramerton, N.C./Gaston Day). Ford, who has coached the annual ACC Barnstorming Tour team sponsored by Sumner's marketing firm, The Sumner Group, worked individually with Pet Sumner on some skill development during the spring 2013 tour.

During that time, Ford promised Pet he would come up to Farmington to work with the entire team this fall.

"Phil coached the team every year and started working with me on some ball handling drills, and when the tour was over I asked him to come up for one of our games." said Pet Sumner. "He surprised me and said 'I will do better, ask your Coach if I can come up and work with your team'." Sumner continued, "I checked it out with Coach Meader and he was delighted, and scheduled two sessions for him this weekend to come in and work with the team."  

Ford was a consensus All-American for the Tar Heels in 1977 and 1978, winning Wooden Award honors as the national collegiate player of the year in 1978. He was also named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year in 1978, and finished his career at North Carolina as the program's all-time leading scorer with 2,290 points.

Ford also started for the 1976 U.S. Olympic men's basketball that won the Gold medal at the Summer games in Montreal. He went on to play seven seasons in the NBA, winning NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 1979 with the Kansas City Kings. Ford served as an assistant coach at UNC from 1988 to 2000 under both Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge, and was on the bench for the Tar Heels' 1993 national championship.

"One of the things I like doing is teaching and coaching," said Ford. "I promised Pet I would come up and work with the team, and I am excited about this year's UMF squad. Last year they won the regular season and, for the first time in years, won 20 games - so they have a great nucleus." 

The UMaine-Farmington men's basketball team is coming off a 21-6 season, 15-3 in the North Atlantic Conference, in 2012-13. The senior-laden Beavers return all five starters from a year ago, headlined by 2013 NAC Player of the Year Ben Johnson (20.0 ppg, 10.4 rpg) and Second Team All-NAC forward Andrew Dickey (13.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg). UMaine-Farmington will also regain the services of Sumner (13.7 ppg, 2.5 apg in 2011-12), who earned First Team All-NAC honors in 2011-12 as a sophomore but missed all of last season due to injury.

The Beavers tip-off the 2013-14 regular season against UMaine-Augusta on Saturday, Nov. 16, at Bates College's Alumni Gymnasium in the Bates College Tournament. UMaine-Farmington will take on the host Bobcats on Sunday, Nov. 17. Start time on both days is 2:00 p.m.