Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Today's Editorial: UNC Basketball and the Rest of Basketball Nation

After the storm, there's always consequences. After UNC beat U of I for the national championship, Carolina fans knew that there would be some defections, but not like this. It was expected that UNC would lose Rashad McCants and possibly Raymond Felton. Along with seniors Juwad Williams, Jackie Manuel and Melvin Scott. In the end, it was much more than that when Sean May and freshman Marvin Williams decided to jump ship and head to the pros. You can't really blame them for leaving though. First of all, if you were offered millions of dollars at the age of twently to work a job you love, a game in fact, wouldn't you leave. Second of all, look at what these kids accomplished. McCants, May and Felton were the most highly sought after high school prospects Carolina had coming in since the days of Vince Carter, Antwaan Jamison and Brendan Haywood, Jeff McInnis and even to go back to Rasheed Wallace. McCants, May and Felton did something none of those guys ever did in their tenure at Carolina, win a national championship. So what else was there to accomplish? Sure, the potential for the Greatest Team in College Basketball history was there with the starting line up of May, incoming freshman Tyler Hansborough, Marvin Williams, Rashad McCants and Raymond Felton. Imagine how much better this team would be if NBA slam dunk champion Josh Smith would have decided to play at least one year of college ball. What could have been. Thirdly, look at where these guys are projected to be taken. Marvin Williams is a potential #1 pick and won't likely drop down past 5. Felton is arguably the best point guard coming out, but this is a point guard heavy draft with Chris Paul of Wake Forest and Deron Williams of Illinois jumping to the draft too. Nonetheless, Felton has been projected to be picked #8 by the New York Knicks, #9 by Golden State or at #10 by the LA Lakers. Sean May is a #15-20 pick with his stock rising, last look, May was being projected at #17 going to the Pacers. The only Tar Heel alumn who's stock is dropping is Rashad McCants who was projected early to be a #15 pick has dropped to #21 to the potent Phoenix Suns. Once again, you can't knock these guys for wanting to get that money. Oh, what could have been...
So let's take a look at the future of North Carolina. On paper it looks bleek with the departure of the magnificent seven. But don't be sad baby blue fans, look at what Uncle Roy is bringing us. Three top ten prospects, no prospect ranked under fifteen, oh and by the way, these four are All-Americans, so it's not like the cupboard is bare. There are also several other prospects waiting to decide on UNC. The bottom of the ACC is still weak with Virginia, Clemson, Florida State at the bottom. The only team not losing major players is (gulp!) Duke. Wake Forest loses Paul, forward Eric Williams and senior three-point bomber Taron Downey. Georgia Tech loses 4 seniors including Will 'The Thrill' Bynum, power dunker Is'mail Mohammed and potentially junior Jarrett Jack, a potential first round pick. Maryland loses ace point guard John Gilchrest, for better or for worse and NCST loses all-around star Julius Hodge. Boston College enters the league as a #2 team losing only 2 stars off that team, but is felt by "experts" across the nation as a one-year wonder.
So let's look at the basketball world next year, as a whole, NCAA and NBA. NCAA, the favorites are as follows: UConn, Duke, Villanova and Kansas. UConn has the big guys up front that no one in the country has along with potential #1 pick sophomore-to-be Rudy Gay. 'Nova has the best perimeter team and the best inside out combo possibly in the whole country. Kansas, well, the media always loves Kansas, but they'll end up choking...again. Duke is the overall favorite, and I hate admitting it personally, but I expect them to ::tear:: return to dominance. Duke has 4 top-20 freshman coming in, including the number one player in the land, power forward Josh McRoberts and the number two player in the land center Eric Boateng. Returning for Duke...everyone including Shelden Williams, the devil himself JJ Redick, Lee Melchioni, Sean Dockery and a cast of what every year seems to be thousands.
Fans out there will probably be asking why I still think Carolina will be good and won't have another 8-20 year. First of all, Roy Williams will not allow that to happen, why, because he's one of the top 10 coaches in the entire country and possibly of all time. Reson two: remember Syracuse? Led by freshman Carmelo Anthony, Gerry McNamara and sophomore high-flyer Hakim Warrick. Third...DA BULLS! Led by rookies Chris Duhon (Duke), Andres Nocioni (Argentinian Olympic Gold Medal team), and Ben Gordon (UConn), second year player Kirk Hinrich and third year players Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler. A young team.
So, when you look at basketball next year, don't look in the immediate past. Thank your favorite teams departing players for a wonderful year. Then look to the future on what could be. Things right now, no matter who your team is (unless you're that team that didn't win a game all year, even then you can't do any worse) things are looking up for you. From high-majors like Duke, UConn, Carolina, MSU to rising "mid-majors" like SIU, Gonzaga. And teams that piss me off like U of I, Creighton, Florida State and Kansas. Hope springs eternal for all! Even you Northwestern!

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