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Joel Berry II Withdraws Name from 2017 NBA Draft, Will Return to UNC

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2017

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 03: Joel Berry II #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts following a play against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 3, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. North Carolina defeated Gonzaga 71-65. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Lance King/Getty Images

North Carolina Tar Heels guard Joel Berry II announced Tuesday he will return to school for the 2017-18 season.

"After speaking to my family I have decided to withdraw from the 2017 draft and will return to Carolina next season," he said in a statement on the school's official site. "I know I can continue to improve my game and be better prepared for the NBA after another year playing against the best college competition in the country. There's no reason to rush leaving school. I love being a Tar Heel and love playing for Carolina and coach [Roy] Williams."  

The school announced Monday that Berry, along with teammates Theo Pinson and Tony Bradley, had filed the necessary paperwork to enter the 2017 NBA draft. None of the three hired an agent, though, which allowed Berry to stay in Chapel Hill.

Berry averaged 14.7 points and 3.6 assists a game as a junior in 2016-17. He also shot 38.4 percent from three-point range.

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Putting off the draft for another year is a sensible decision for Berry. The 2017 class is flush with talented point guards, with Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, De'Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith all potential top-10 picks.

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman didn't have Berry coming off the board in his most recent mock draft, and ESPN.com's Chad Ford ranked him as the 63rd-best player available.

Berry will have an opportunity to strengthen his draft stock in his senior year.

His return will be a nice boost for North Carolina as well, with SB Nation's Tar Heel Blog summing up the reaction from most fans:

Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks will graduate, while Justin Jackson hired an agent, forgoing his final year of eligibility. The cupboard won't be completely bare for Williams next year, but replacing those three won't be easy.

Having Berry for one more season will be a nice luxury for North Carolina as it looks to defend its national championship.

 

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