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Tar Heel stars now balling on the blacktop

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While I may not want to admit it, but one of the more thrilling parts to attending a Division I school with a prominent basketball program is the infrequent co-mingling among kids like you and me, and the full-scholarship players.

Whether it's at a party or as part of a group school project, it's never not interesting to see how a group of NBA-aspiring kids interact when faced with a) college girls and alcohol, and b) a semester long Interpersonal Communications study project. I've seen both; equally as funny for obviously different reasons.

Some high-profile college athletes reject the outside world, heading from clandestine event to clandestine event, not really bumping shoulders with the math and science majors. But not the studs down in Chapel Hill.

In the past few weeks, we've seen Tar Heel players Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall and Dexter Strickland hit various on-campus blacktop courts, drawing impressive crowds and leaving a select group of UNC undergrads with a great story to tell following graduation.

Per The Wall Street Journal's Ben Cohen:

After the season ended, players began tweeting their pickup plans in advance, often a day early but sometimes just minutes before. That's when hundreds of students started showing up to watch. Each session lasts around two hours. The games are first to seven or 11. The only requirement to play is a serviceable pair of sneakers.

Is getting in a run against a trio of potential college basketball national champions not the most sober fun you can have on a college campus?

Additionally, Barnes extended his public playing last week by participating in a wheelchair basketball game with the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity - which is raising money and awareness for Push America, a group that supports those with disabilities.

We often complain that many of the nation's most talented interscholastic players are looking beyond college well before they even step into their freshman season. For Barnes, Strickland and Marshall, their interaction among students coupled with their recent decision to return for a sophomore campaign shows that they're still just kids - well aware that this is the best time of their life.