In the spirit of the four,Tar Heels declaring themselves eligible for the NBA draft—it’s important to keep tabs on UNC alumni in the league. It’s a significant leap for young athletes below the age of legal consumption in the United States to leave the protective college bubble, regardless of where they are; most especially though, Carolina.
With UNC comes the name and notoriety of a championship winning collegiate program. The fame comes for eighteen and nineteen year olds. The cameras come, the fans come, and the NBA teams come.
Then, twenty year old young men go to battle for starting positions with thirty five year old veterans who have to feed their families. Triple the number of games and the number of injuries possibilities—and you’ve got a tough transition.
It’s important for these Tar Heel draft prospects to keep tabs on the Tar Heel alumni already in the league.
For Tyler Zeller, he must keep an eye on Tyler Hansbrough. Hansbrough has averaged nearly 10 points and 4 rebounds, with a field goal percentage of 44.7%. The most important thing for Zeller to do in the league is to get some size on him and crank the aggression. At UNC, he’s done well taking contact and finishing but the NBA is another world. He can learn from Psycho T’s tenacity and refusal to quit—while still shooting nearly 50% from the field.
For Kendall Marshall, the Cousy Award winner last season, it’s imperative for him to keep tabs on alumni Ty Lawson. Lawson is only 24 but with two years of solid court time under his belt. This season, he’s already averaging 15.8 PPG (16.3 his last ten games) and is improving on his 11 career Points Per Game. Not just that, he’s averaging 6.8 assists per outing and an impressive 3.9 rebounds. In Lawson’s last ten games, he’s shooting 49% from the field goal and 4.1 rebounds per outing. Most essentially, Lawson faces the aggressiveness issue that Kendall ran into. Both are such talented distributors that a lot of defenders back off so it becomes an issue of evolving into a scoring threat. Ty has done incredibly well maintaining both a high percentage and offensive production. Marshall will have to hone that skill as well. He definitely has the capacity.