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UNC Takes Some Big Hits

With the departure of John Henson, Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes, UNC necessarily takes a step back, but not necessarily that far back.

They'll be able to build around James Michael McAdoo, Reggie Bullock, PJ Hairston, Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald, with the latter two returning from injuries.

Plus they'll be bringing in highly regarded point guard Marcus Paige, athletic big man Brice Johnson, big big man Joel James and 6-6 JP Tokoto, who Roy Willliams said had Vince Carter like athleticism.

Plus Desmond Hubert will continue to develop.

So there's a lot to work with, even if some of it is raw.

Still, there's no easy way to replace the remarkable combination of Zeller and Henson inside, or Marshall at the point.

Replacing Barnes, the highest rated recruit of the four, will be easier. Even if you believe (and this is fair) that Barnes was unfairly hyped coming out of high school, even if you adjust expectations downwards a bit, he still flamed out at the end of the season just when his team needed him most.

That's when great players step up.  By that definition, Barnes is not a great player. Nor is he a great player by effort, the way guys like Wojo or Tyler Hansbrough made their names.

That's not to say that he can't become one in the NBA. Certainly he's expecting to. Check out the statements from the three early entries (Zeller is of course a senior):

  • Henson:     "I've loved my three years at Carolina, and now I'm ready to pursue my     dream of playing in the NBA"
  • Marshall: "My life long dream has been to play basketball at the     highest level possible and I feel now is my greatest opportunity to fulfill     this goal."
  • Barnes: "I’m honored and blessed to have the opportunity to compete     in the NBA. The love and respect I have for basketball fuel the drive toward     my ultimate goal – to experience an illustrious career in the NBA. I have     consulted with Coach Williams and my family, and although it was a difficult     decision, I have decided to enter this year’s NBA draft."

From his Skyped press conference to his NBA announcement, Barnes has never shown much in the way of humility. The NBA, however, has a habit of teaching it to everyone except for a highly select few. He'll get his share soon enough.