Monday, March 28, 2011

Reasons For Each of UNC's Big 3 to Stay

Needless to say I was disappointed with the outcome of yesterday's elite eight game, but when the other team shoots 12-22 from 3 and one of your best players is on the bench in foul trouble it makes it hard to win. I am in the midst of a test week so I will hold of on my UNC season wrap up. Instead I wanted to quickly address the topic that will be on most Carolina fan's minds the next few weeks: whether Henson, Barnes, and Zeller will be back next year. This is not meant to try and convince any of the players to stay (I doubt this blog has 0.001% impact on their decision making process), but rather to break down the reasons of why each of the players may come back next year. Obviously the reasons they would leave are high draft stock following great tournament performances (excluding Henson yesterday) and the guaranteed money that comes with being picked. Also winning a national championship would be an obvious reason all might want to come back. Here are a few more individualized reasons each may decide to don the light blue jerseys one more season:

Tyler Zeller
Zeller wasn't thought to be much of a risk to leave early, but the big man saw his stock rise after a dominant tournament.  However, he was an academic all american and may be interested in attaining his degree from one of the top business schools in the nation before he goes on to the NBA.  Zeller also has a chance to even further boost his stock if he puts on more muscle, expands his already impressive post game, and begins hitting shots consistently out to 18 feet like Hansbrough did his senior year.  His jump hook is a thing of beauty, and if he adds a couple more post moves to his repertoire he may be unstoppable next season.  He could build on his tournament dominance and be an All-American next year and see his name up in the rafters.

John Henson
Henson would be a lottery pick right now because of his absurd athleticism and potential.  His defensive skills are impressive and he could help NBA teams in that role off the bat.  However, his offensive game is inconsistent outside of 5 feet.  He improved his FT shooting throughout the season and another year could prevent him from being a liability at the line in the NBA.  For someone as long as Henson he actually has a very nice shooting stroke, and one more season could go a long way to developing a consistent jump shot out to 12 feet.  He would have a great chance to move up UNC's record books in the blocks and rebound categories.  He seems to enjoy being at Chapel Hill, and staying would allow him to be close to his sister who will be playing basketball at Duke next year.  His parents financial situation is secure, so he probably does not feel intense pressure to make money right away.

Harrison Barnes
Barnes is an interesting case.  He could be a top 3 pick right now.  He has a bright future in the NBA.  It would be hard to blame him for going pro, because 95% of kids in his situation would.  However, those people aren't Harrison Barnes.  I have talked to two people who had "connections" to Barnes and the program that claim he's not leaving.  Barnes himself entered college talking about a 3 year plan.  Does any of this mean he's staying?  Not at all.  But it does show he's not your typical freshman sensation.  He seems to have a business oriented mind and he may realize that while he could be picked early this year, another year in college would allow him to enhance his brand and come into the league with a superstar aura not seen since LeBron.  It's the difference between being a hyped rookie in 2011 and possibly entering with a Nike Black Falcon shoe brand in 2012.   He also seems to be very cognizant of his legacy and if he returned he would have a chance to not only help hang a championship banner, but also have #40 hung alongside #12, #50, and most importantly, #23.

Who knows what these guys will decide.  The truth is they are all 19-21.  Whatever they decide I, and hopefully the rest of Tar Heel nation will support them.  I'll never take for granted how awesome they were this year.  But if they do decide to come back.... man would next season be something special.

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