Larry Drew II Arrived As an Enigma at North Carolina and Departed Just the Same

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Larry Drew II Arrived As an Enigma at North Carolina and Departed Just the Same
Photo courtesy DTH/Katherine Vance

If there is ever a remake of the film The Blind Side, Hollywood should consult Larry Drew II for the next adaptation.

According to Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman, Larry Drew Sr. certainly blindsided Roy Williams Friday morning when he called to inform the head coach that the junior Drew would be leaving the program immediately.

Besides the timing of this announcement, the current conditions of the team and Drew II make this out-of-the-blue news exponentially more bizarre.

North Carolina seemed to be warming up its play, coming off the season’s most dominant, put-together performance at Chestnut Hill, Mass.  

While it is true that Boston College’s defense is sorely lacking, the Heels showed some solid defense to combine with their stellar offensive production. 

Their 106-74 demolition of BC showcased the Tar Heels’ full potential throughout an entire game—potential that could truly contend with and overcome any team in the country.

More significantly, UNC appeared to have slowly but surely gained confidence.

The players played conspicuously with more fire, displaying a level of court competence, team chemistry and—dare I say—fun consistently missing since the 2009-10 season.

Video courtesy DTH

UNC’s win over the Eagles simply exhibited its mentality and reinforced its similarly convincing win over in-state nemesis, North Carolina State.

Back in the top 25 and having improved upon last season’s conference record, the Tar Heels appeared poised for a promising second-half conference schedule, with individual and team growth at the core of this positive outlook. 

Individually, Drew showed promise too.

Despite his demotion from the starting point guard position, Drew displayed some of his best performances in the four-game span after his benching. 

He dished 19 assists to accompany a 5:4 steals to turnovers ratio, even with less playing time, and put up a season-high nine assists in 19 minutes in his last game as a Tar Heel.  

Drew seemed to relish his new role as a supporting cast member, a role less encumbered with the pressures and expectations of filling Ty Lawson’s shoes after waiting in his shadow.

After all, Drew had regularly borne the brunt of brutal criticism, regardless of their validity, ever since he took the reins after Lawson’s departure.

Williams attested to this frequent disapproval of Drew after the BC game to Fox Sports' Goodman.

The junior from Encino, Calif., may have possessed an undemonstrative demeanor, as he rarely showed overt passion or fed off the fans’ emotions.  However, the constant negative backlash undoubtedly affected Drew. 

He could have used the verbal fodder as motivation to prove his critics wrong, but the regular panning may have also driven him to detach from his teammates and fanbase even more.  

Faulting Drew for detachment, had he chosen this option, is unfair.  Considering all the scrutiny, it is certainly not an unnatural response.

Moreover, it is also unfair at this point to speculate over the reasons for his hasty exit strategy, or lack thereof, though it may be easy to blame it on immaturity or selfishness—traits clearly on display with Drew's (in)action.  

The possibility of background decisions by allegedly overbearing parents should be treated as such too.

The actual rationale may emerge over the ensuing days and weeks.

What remains true is the fact that Drew never appeared to truly mesh with his teammates—at least on-court—or connect with fans during his haphazard tenure in Chapel Hill. 

He arrived and left just the same, a solitary enigma who shocked but never awed a cautiously optimistic basketball community.

In the meantime, Williams should re-think his recruitment plan and stay away from the Golden State.

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