For the third time since 2005, the bulk of North Carolina’s roster is headed to the NBA. But this is the first time those players left without a title.
Underclassmen Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Kendall Marshall all declared for the NBA draft, meaning the Tar Heels will lose four starters (counting senior Tyler Zeller) from a team that finished 32-5, won the ACC regular-season title and reached the Elite Eight.
All four players are expected to be lottery picks.
The cupboard isn’t bare in Chapel Hill, though. It never is. But it certainly faces some questions.
Sharpshooter Reggie Bullock and freshmen P.J. Hairston and James Michael McAdoo – who may still turn pro – all return, meaning there’s still elite talent on the roster. If Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald recover from torn ACLs, then there’s experience at guard. Incoming freshman Marcus Paige will likely step into the point guard spot, while Brice Johnson is there for depth.
But that’s about it. Even Stilman White, the true freshman who filled in for the injured Marshall during the NCAA tournament, won’t be around. He leaves for a two-year Mormon mission after the school year.
The possibility of another non-NCAA tournament season looms – it happened in 2010 after Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green all left – but it shouldn’t. Not with that kind of talent on the roster.
Much of it depends on what McAdoo decides. Without him, the Heels’ frontcourt won’t have a significant post presence and would likely be undersized against most opponents. If he bails too, might be a long 2012-13 season.
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