Title in Hand...Looking Ahead to UNC Basketball Next Season

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Title in Hand...Looking Ahead to UNC Basketball Next Season
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

On Monday, the North Carolina Tar Heels dismantled Michigan State 89-72 to win the 2009 NCAA Basketball Championship. For those who watched the game, it was evident that UNC was the best team in the nation and the game was not as close as the score indicates.

The win makes the decision to return to school by Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Danny Green, and Wayne Ellington look like a pretty good one. Hansbrough and Green are seniors, and it would be foolish to think that Lawson and Ellington won't at least test the NBA Draft waters again this year. 

So, assuming those four depart for the next level, what does Carolina's roster look like for next season?

Will they have a chance of emulating the Florida Gators of just two years ago and repeat their run, or will they be more like the Tar Heels of 2006, after five players from the '05 championship team departed for the NBA?

 

RETURNING PLAYERS

Ed Davis—C

Larry Drew II—G

Marcus Ginyard—F*

Will Graves—G

Deon Thompson—F

Justin Watts—G

Tyler Zeller—C

(* assumes approval of medical redshirt for a fifth season)

Right there is a starting lineup of Drew, Ginyard, Thompson, Davis and Zeller that can compete with the top teams in the nation and they would potentially be ranked in preseason polls.

Yes, they all need some work, but another offseason under the guidance of Roy Williams will only make these players better.  Plus, all these players have the experience of playing in a Final Four, something that can't be taught.

 

INCOMING FRESHMEN

John Henson—F - 6'10" (No. 6 on Rivals Top 150)

Dexter Strickland—G - 6'3" (No. 17 on Rivals Top 150)

Leslie McDonald—G - 6'4" (No. 55 on Rivals Top 150)

David Wear—F - 6'9" (No. 68 on Rivals Top 150)

Travis Wear—F - 6'9" (No. 69 on Rivals Top 150)

There's another starting potential lineup right there. With four McDonald's High School All-Americans, this is one of the top recruiting classes in the country. Any of these players is capable of starting for the Tar Heels, and all of them will likely make an impact during their freshman year.

What would make this class even more sensational would be the addition of Rivals' No. 1 overall recruit John Wall. Wall, a 6'3" PG from Raleigh, NC was considering Memphis before the departure of coach John Calipari to Kentucky. Now, he has fielded a call from Roy Williams, and just recently went on to say:

"I think it is pretty good to have schools like Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Kansas recruiting me. Those are four of the top schools that you hear about the most.  It's great that coaches from schools like those want to see me and recruit me. In the end, this is my decision, so I'll definitely be looking at North Carolina."

Sure, it's a long shot, but with the addition of Wall to the mix, next year's Tar Heel team would be a contender to repeat their trip to the Final Four.

 

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP (without Wall)

PG—Dexter Strickland

SG—Marcus Ginyard

SF—John Henson

PF—Deon Thompson

C—Ed Davis


So for those of you Tar Heel fans fretting about the losses of Hansbrough, Green, and potentially Ellington and Lawson, don't fret.  There is no letdown year in store for Carolina next season. Roy Williams is hot on the recruiting trail and ready to compete for another title in 2010.

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