Posted on: June 17, 2008 11:49 am
Edited on: June 17, 2008 11:56 am
Here's Tuesday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: I'm waiting to hear your thoughts (on the North Carolina trio returning to college).
My thoughts are simple and predictable, basically that it's unreal and North Carolina is going to be as big a favorite as there has been in recent years to win the national title, the lone possible exception being the 2006-07 Florida Gators. Think about it: The Tar Heels are returning the top six scorers from a team that was the preseason No. 1 last year, that was No. 1 much of last season, that won 36 games and the ACC regular season and tournament title before advancing to the Final Four.
They'll have arguably the best point guard in the country (Ty Lawson), one of the best shooting guards in the country (Wayne Ellington), the best big man in the country (Tyler Hansbrough) and the best sixth man in the country (Danny Green) plus a top 10 recruiting class, and if Clemson is hoping to break its 53-game losing streak in Chapel Hill, well, Oliver Purnell would be wise to look ahead to the 2009-2010 season, at least. In all seriousness, Monday was a great day for Roy Williams, a great day for North Carolina and a great day for North Carolina fans. There's still no guarantee that the Tar Heels will win the national title, of course, but I'm not gonna be the one to pick against them.
Posted on: June 6, 2008 11:22 am
Edited on: June 6, 2008 11:26 am
Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: Keep your mouth shut. You remind me of a little girl on the playground stirring up a bunch of trouble. Where did you go to school, Durham?
I suspect you're a North Carolina fan, Buzz, what with the shot at Durham and all. And I'm assuming you're upset at the column I wrote last week detailing Ty Lawson's anger about being the focus of some hate from Tar Heel fans who are not happy that he's entered the NBA Draft. And I'm guessing you think I went to the NBA Pre-Draft Camp looking to start a controversy that would make for good radio in North Carolina during these slow months.
If so, you're not alone.
I've got a lot of emails suggesting that.
But the truth is that I planned to land in Orlando, go to the gym and talk to Richard Hendrix and Ron Steele, Alabama's on-the-fence underclassmen who were participating in the camp. So that's what I did. But in the process of asking the Alabama players whether they felt pressured by classmates and fans to return to school, I decided to ask Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green the same thing. And then they said what they said about UNC fans blasting them in various places (including Ty's Facebook page) and I shot an email to my desk and told them I was adjusting because I had some interesting comments that might make for an interesting column.
Honestly, it was that simple.
And then the column blew up pretty good.
And I was actually worried that Ty and Wayne and Danny might be upset because me taking their words and using them for a column brought some heat on them that they probably could've done without. But when I told Wayne the next day that North Carolina fans wre pounding me via email, our subsequent exchange went like this:
Wayne: Did you write that?
Anyway, regardless of whether Ty's version of how he has been treated badly by North Carolina fans is reality, there is no debating he believes it to be reality, and that's all that mattered to me. Ty was upset with fans and willing to talk about it publicly, and I wrote about it because it's not everyday that you run across a college guy speaking so openly about something of this nature. I appreciated Ty's candor. But given the events of the past 24 hours I'm guessing he now has bigger problems to address. And in the spirit of writing about anything interesting, I'm gonna sit down and type about them too. So check back with me later, please.
PS -- To answer your question, no, I did not go to school in Durham. I don't think I was smart enough.
Posted on: May 29, 2008 10:25 am
Edited on: May 29, 2008 10:26 am
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: I just wanted to know how Wayne Ellington is doing at the NBA Pre-Draft Camp. And I was wondering about second round picks. I know they don't get guaranteed contracts like first rounders, but what do they get? Just another chance to make the team later, just like any free agent?
Wayne Ellington, I'm sorry to report, wasn't very good in his first game Wednesday night here at the NBA Pre-Draft Camp. He was 3-of-10 from the the field and 1-of-5 on 3-pointers while finishing with eight points, two assists, no rebounds and six turnovers in 26 minutes. At this point, I don't believe he projects as a first-round pick. But he did tell me that his first workout is with Toronto, which is picking 17th. So we'll see.
As for second round picks, they are guaranteed nothing.
Teams own the rights of second-round picks for three years, but teams are not required to sign them. That said, there are such things as second-round promises where teams tell a player to stay in the draft and that if he is available at, say, 43 they will take him and sign him to a guaranteed two-year contract. This happened with JamesOn Curry two years ago. He was not a projected first-round pick, but he still decided to stay in the draft once the Bulls told him they'd take him with the 51st pick and sign him to a contract, and that's something that could happen for a guy like Ellington. Perhaps he's not first-round material right now. But if he opts to stay in the draft -- and that still seems very much up in the air -- it could be because somebody picking in the 30s has made him a promise.
Like I said, we'll see.
But it would probably help if he made a couple of jumpers in his game later today.
Posted on: April 24, 2008 3:57 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2008 8:17 pm
And so we wait.
And thank goodness the deadline to enter the NBA Draft is Sunday or else you get the feeling those North Carolina boys would drag this thing clear into the summer while trying to decide between making themselves available with an agent, making themselves available without an agent or just returning to UNC once and for all and securing the No. 1 ranking in every preseason poll.
Make no mistake, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington are all probably first-round picks if they want to be.
The only question is whether they want to be.
And it seems we won't get a definitive answer until the weekend, at the earliest.
Meantime, the only other nationally relevant players still undecided are UConn's Hasheem Thabeet and UCLA's Darren Collison. Beyond that, we're pretty much done with this stuff ... at least until the June 16 deadline to withdraw from the draft approaches.
Posted on: April 18, 2008 2:43 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2008 6:42 pm
None of the North Carolina stars seem ready to make a decision about their future.
Thus, we wait.
But for those keeping count, there are now really just four schools whose national title hopes hinge on a yet-to-be-made decision by an underclassman. They are North Carolina (Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Tyler Hansbrough), Texas (D.J. Augustin), Connecticut (Hasheem Thabeet) and Tennessee (Tyler Smith). If things were to break correctly for those teams -- which is to say, if their players return for another season -- any of them would be a legitimate national title contender. If not -- which is to say, if their players enter the NBA Draft -- any of them would be damaged considerably.
So how will it play out?
Any guess is a reasonable guess on Lawson, Ellington and Hansbrough. They could all go, all stay or some combination of the three could go or stay, meaning there is no simple answer with the Tar Heels. It's likely nobody will know anything until next week. But if they all happen to return, you can go ahead and slot UNC as the preseason No. 1 in every relevant poll.
Moving on, it seems the smart money has Augustin and Thabeet entering with Augustin the most likely of that duo to return (though most believe he's absolutely leaning towards at least testing the waters). And if I had to pick one player from this entire list who I think will return it would be Smith, a 6-foot-7 forward who seems to get pushed down the board every time some other underclassman declares. Smith is aware of this, I'm told. So don't be surprised if he opts for another season at Tennessee, where he could team with McDonald's All-American Scotty Hopson to make the Vols the SEC favorites for the second straight year.
The deadline to enter the draft is April 27.