ACC Basketball: No decision yet for UNC’s Lawson, Ellington
By Aaron Beard
CHAPEL HILL ó North Carolina spent several tense weeks waiting last year to find out which underclassmen would go to the NBA or return to school. This time, fresh off a national championship, the Tar Heels don’t seem overly concerned by the possibility.
Coach Roy Williams said Thursday night he is gathering information for Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington to consider a possible jump to the NBA, but no decision has been reached. He said he spoke for about a half-hour with Lawson and his parents on Wednesday night, and had met only briefly with Ellington and his parents.
Williams said there is no timetable for a decision. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is April 26. Both players submitted their names for the draft after last season before returning to school, an option they can only use once.
Williams said he plans to speak with at least 10 NBA general managers or player personnel officials to find out where the junior duo might fall in the draft.
“I think they’re relying on the information and not necessarily my advice because they’re going to do what they want to do and that’s what I want them to do,” Williams said after the team’s annual awards ceremony to commemorate the program’s fifth NCAA title.
“But I want it to be an informed decision. I’m extremely happy regardless of what they do. I’m extremely thankful regardless of what they do. If they decide to come back, of course, I’ll coach them. If they don’t, I’ll go back and say it again: I’m extremely thankful for what they’ve already done and that I was able to coach them for three years.”
Neither player was available to speak with reporters, and Lawson made no mention of his plans when he briefly addressed the crowd after sharing the team’s most valuable player award with graduating senior Tyler Hansbrough.
Lawson was second on the team with 16.6 points per game, unseating Hansbrough as Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year before finishing with 21 points and a championship game-record eight steals in the 89-72 win against Michigan State in Detroit. Ellington was third at 15.8 points and was named most outstanding player of the Final Four after scoring a combined 39 points against Villanova in the national semifinals and against the Spartans on April 6.
North Carolina had been down this road before. Last year, the Tar Heels waited nearly two months for Lawson, Ellington and rising senior Danny Green to decide whether they’d return to school. And after the team won the 2005 national championship, North Carolina had to short wait before finding out that four underclassmen were heading to the NBA ó robbing the team of its top seven scorers.
Things should be a little more settled this time, with or without Lawson and Ellington. Deon Thompson (11 points per game) will be back for his senior season along with talented big men Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller, and the expected return of versatile senior Marcus Ginyard ó who played just three games this year before opting for a redshirt after a slow recovery from foot surgery.
Throw in another touted recruiting class, and Williams isn’t going to worry too much about the decision.
“I’ve told them, ‘Relax and enjoy the dickens out of this time period,”‘ he said. “‘You don’t have to be 75 years old tomorrow.’ We haven’t pushed it and there’s no need to push it right now.”
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