North Carolina coach Roy Williams said on the Dan Patrick Show this morning that he plans to meet with underclassmen Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller this week to talk about their futures.
“I don’t think they’re going to drag it out or anything,’’ Williams said on the former ESPN anchor's radio show. “But I’d say this week or next week, we’ll know what’s going on, but it could be next week. I’m going through the process of getting all my information from the NBA people. I’ve got two more people to talk to today, in fact.
“Gut feeling? The NCAA says you shouldn’t bet, and I’m not betting on this one.”
Barnes, a second-team All-ACC selection who made two game-winners and tied with Zeller as the Tar Heels' leading scorer (15.7 ppg), has been projected as the highest potential NBA choice of the trio. Mock drafts posted online have listed the freshman as a likely top-five pick. But he said early on that he didn't consider himself a one-and-done college player - and the desire for an NCAA championship ring might bring him back.
Henson, the ACC's defensive player of the year, is also considered a likely first-round selection, but his father said in an interview last month that staying in the NBA was just important as getting there. So another college season of bulking up the lanky forward's frame - and his offensive moves - could be a bonus.
Zeller, a first-team Academic All-American, seems the least likely to leave, although his 25.8 points and 8.8 rebounds in four NCAA tournament games helped his stock.
The players have until April 24 to declare for the draft; as long as they don’t hire an agent, they could withdraw by May 8.
“It is tough,’’ Williams told the Dan Patrick Show. “But I basically tell them, ‘Do what you want to do. There’s no question the scenario is a little different this year because of the mood of the NBA and the collective bargaining agreement. But I really do, I want kids to do what they want to do. And I’m one of those old corny guys that thinks that college is fun and it’s OK to be a kid, and the NBA’s not going to go away. But hey – what do you want to do?
“I’ve had Brandan Wright and Marvin Williams leave after one year; I’ve had Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington leave after their junior year, after a national championship. So we’ve had eight guys leave in my first seven years here early, to be [first-round] draft choices, which is more than anybody in college basketball – with some success more than others. Ed Davis left last year after only playing half of his sophomore year because of a broken wrist. But I really do – ‘tell me what you want to do’ – because I’m big on enjoying life. It’s too short, and you have too many things going on. I tell my guys, the 1st and the 15th are the greatest days in your NBA career because it’s payday, and the rest of the time those guys would rather be in college. But that payday is pretty impressive.”