May 30, 2010
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UNC and NC State have each announced multiple transfers in the past month. Let's take a look at how these departures affect the outlook for these teams leading into the 2010-2011 season.
UNC's Wear twins, David and Travis, surprised Roy Williams by announcing their intentions to transfer from UNC. The Wears were projected to be major contributors next season, with the Heels losing Ed Davis to the draft and Dion Thompson to graduation.
The twins' departures leave UNC dangerously thin in the frontcourt. In fact, when the Wears transferred, Carolina was left with only two post players—rail-thin John Henson and seven footer Tyler Zeller.
Fortunately, the Heels received a commitment from Alabama transfer Justin Knox to fill the void. Since Knox has already graduated, he will be immediately eligible to play.
Even with the addition of Knox, UNC will likely go small quite often next season, and may look similar to one of Villanova's guard-oriented teams.
In order to play with four guards, or three guards and a small forward, the one post player must be strong, tough, and aggressive on the boards.
UNC's problem is that Henson cannot fill that role (he is a finesse four at best) and Zeller hasn't been durable in his college career. Zeller is not a true workhorse type of player, anyway. Knox should give the Heels just enough power and depth down low.
The small lineup can work in UNC's favor if they can play very good, aggressive defense, get out in transition, and run other teams ragged. In addition, their smaller players will pose some match-up problems for teams that aren't quick and athletic.
As long as Zeller, Henson, and Knox can stay healthy, Carolina will have a nice rotation of bigs well-suited for Roy Williams' preferred up-tempo style.
No matter how it plays out, it will be fun to see how Coach Williams adjusts to the personnel issues his squad faces.
NC State Coach Sidney Lowe, and most everyone who follows NC State, knew weeks ago that Julius Mays would be transferring.
The decision made sense for Mays. He wanted to be closer to home, and at a place where could get more playing time. By all accounts, Mays is a good kid, a team player, and was a leader for the Wolfpack last season.
But with Ryan Harrow and Lorenzo Brown coming in, Mays most likely realized that his role would be severely diminished over the remainder of his college career. He would have been third on the depth chart at both point guard and shooting guard.
His leadership will be missed, but he would not have been a big on-court contributor next season.
Josh Davis' transfer announcement was the big surprise. Josh's apparently fulfilled his life-long dream to play at NC State by signing with the school last year. He gave 100% effort every day in practice and when he got in the game. Josh hustled and made positive things happen.
In particular, he was instrumental in the Pack's upset victory at Marquette last season. His defense on Lazar Hayward energized State and keyed their decisive run in the second half.
Davis probably would not have received much playing time in 2010-11. But as a junior and senior, he would have had the opportunity for more substantial minutes. In any event, his effort and hard work will be missed.
Despite the turnover at State and Carolina this off-season, both teams will be expected to accomplish big things next season. The attrition should be sufficiently offset by fantastic incoming recruiting classes. The Pack and the Heels should both be NCAA Tournament teams next March.
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