How Does Ed Davis' Departure to the NBA Affect UNC?

Michael JeeCorrespondent IApril 15, 2010


The college basketball world knows by now that Ed Davis officially announced his decision to leave for the NBA.

Multiple media sources have stated that Davis plans on hiring an agent, so the possibility of a last-minute return is nonexistent.

In a past story, I stated that Davis’ wrist injury may compel him to return to North Carolina for his junior year, which I believed could work in his and the school’s favor.  Though I never expressed my belief that he would return, most readers agreed with my unwritten sentiment—by a 2:1 margin—as shown by the poll.

His highly anticipated but unsurprising decision may have disappointed the Tar Heel faithful, but Davis has every right to leave for a possibly promising pro career.  After all, he reached the pinnacle of college basketball as a freshman, and perhaps, he feels he has reached the apex of his development as a player at the collegiate level.  Davis also has certainly remained a top 10 pick despite his wrist injury.

Davis and his camp may not be as concerned about his injury or the possibility of his draft stock dropping because of the limited workouts that have resulted from it.

Davis and Co. are probably more concerned about current rules that govern what kind of contract a rookie can draw up.  

Moreover, Terry Davis, the father, confirmed that a potential lockout after the 2010-11 season influenced his son’s decision to declare for the NBA now.  Essentially, Davis feared the possibility that he might not get the chance to leave for the NBA if he stayed for his junior season, forcing him to remain at Chapel Hill as a senior.

This assumed lockout has, in fact, persuaded many underclassmen with the potential of being a first round pick to sign with an agent and jump into NBA waters, so Davis is not alone in jumping ship.  Kentucky’s entire squad of underclassmen and Butler Bulldogs sophomore star Gordon Hayward are some prominent names who have chosen to take the same path.

With Davis’ absence now looming, the Tar Heels have a more definite picture of their starting roster and strategy.

It is difficult to both concretely characterize Davis’ performance or describe his development, if any, because of his limited play this past season.  It did appear, more often than not, as though he played with one foot out of the NCAA door.

Davis undoubtedly displayed great skills as a rebounder and shot blocker, but he neither showed nor blossomed in other areas of the game.  He never ran the floor all that well, and Roy Williams even described Davis as a not so good practice player.  

Davis could have experienced monumental development and improvement in his junior year.  Of course, hypothetically, anything and everything is possible.

Based on Davis’ effort and work ethic, though, the probability of such a scenario was less than stellar.

UNC definitely has a more than adequate pair of replacements in John Henson and Tyler Zeller to make up for whatever void forms from Davis’ departure.  Like Davis, Henson has proven to be an effective rebounder and shot blocker, and Zeller showed more offensive versatility than Davis.  Furthermore, both players conspicuously ran the court better than Davis.

Davis arguably possessed NBA-level talent, and he added depth to UNC’s roster.  However, the current team was notorious for its inconsistent and flaky teamwork.  Combined with Williams’ preference for multiple player rotations, the team may never have meshed and formed solid team chemistry with new additions to the squad.  Davis’ presence may likely have increased disruptions to play rhythm, halting any momentum in the process.

Simply put, Davis’ absence may likely not translate as a significant loss to North Carolina, for the likelihood that current players improving and immediate impact from talented newcomers serve as a greater promise than Davis’ singular influence.

Davis surely leaves as an enigma.  No one knows if he truly fulfilled his potential as a college player, thus, it is impossible to speculate the evolution of the program with Davis a part of it.

My lone certainty in predicting the consequence of Davis’ exit: I hope his trajectory in the NBA proves better than the last Tar Heel to have hung his Carolina blue and white jersey early, Brandan Wright.