Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington Declare for NBA Draft

Jacob NitzbergAnalyst IApril 23, 2009

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 27:  Ty Lawson #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels smiles late in the second half against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regionals at the FedExForum on March 27, 2009 in Memphis, Tennessee. The Tar Heels defeated the Bulldogs 98-77.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington—the starting backcourt of North Carolina’s championship squad—announced their intentions Thursday to forgo their senior seasons and enter the NBA Draft.

Lawson was named Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, and Ellington took home the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player honors, as the two led the way to the 2009 NCAA Title.

The pair join starting UNC teammates Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Green, two senior forwards, in the draft.  

Both Lawson and Ellington are projected as late lottery picks. Hansbrough is projected to go late in the first round, while Green is considered a second-round talent.

After the 2008 season, Ellington, Lawson, and Green all declared for the draft without hiring agents before returning to school. Players are not eligible to return to the college game after declaring for the draft more than once, so all three are gone for good.

The departure of these four starters doesn’t necessarily spell trouble for UNC, who could certainly return to the Final Four next year with a reloaded roster (more on that here).

Tar Heels fans—myself included—will be sad to see Lawson and Ellington go, but it's the right decision.  This year's draft class is seen as a weak one, which maximizes their stock.

Coming off a title, there was nowhere for Lawson and Ellington to go but down.  They’re right to go out on top.