Who Is The Tar Heels Leader On The Court?


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With great pleasure UNC Tar Heel fans I bring you keeping it heel’s inaugural article.  Keeping it heel is the newest site to the FanSided  Network and we will be bringing you coverage of everything Heels from here on out.  Make us your one stop shop for all things Heel!  Doing some research on Tar Heel history? Be sure to check out our Heel History  section. Need a place to check on the roster? All the information your looking for is right in our Team Rosters  section. Looking for a one stop shop that puts all your UNC news in one place? Check out the UNC News Wire  for all the latest links on everything Tar Heel from around the web.  Need to check the schedule at the last minute?  Wondering what channel the game is on?  All you need to do is log onto keepingitheel.com  and check the schedules  section.  Are you a Tar Heel enthusiast interested in becoming a writer for keepingitheel.com?  Click Here to find out how.  OK, enough with the introductions already, here we go.

There is no doubt the team the Tar Heels  will put on the court this season will be as talented as any in UNC history.  The team returns several upper class man that chose to stay another year at UNC rather than enter the NBA Draft.

Senior Tyler Zeller one of 2 players remaining from the 2009 national championship team returns at center.  Zeller a highly touted freshman coming out of high school finally had a breakout season in his junior year where he became a force inside averaging 15.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, after 2 injury riddled seasons his freshman and sophomore years.  Zeller is by most accounts the teams vocal, locker room leader but his talent level is not that of sophomores Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall or junior John Henson.

The point guard position is similar to the quarterback position in football.  The PG sets the team’s offense up, runs the fast break and is generally a distributor of the ball to the team’s scorers.  UNC PG Kendall Marshall burst onto the scene as a freshman and after taking over for Larry Drew III in the starting lineup the Heels offense took off and never looked back.  But as good as Marshall is, and make no mistake he is fantastic.  You still cannot be consider the leader of a national championship contender with a career average of 6.2 points per game.

If the only starting senior and the PG aren’t the team leader who is?  Find out on Page 2:

John Henson came to UNC with huge expectations as the top ranked player in the country coming out of high school. Scouts raved about Henson’s versatility, his length and athletic ability. The problem with Henson is head coach Roy Williams didn’t know Henson’s best true position. His freshman season Henson was played at the small forward position and he struggled averaging only 5.7 pts and 4.4 rebounds per game. A move to power forward and a little more bulk on his skinny 6 ft 10 in 210 lb frame jump started Henson’s career. In his sophomore campaign Henson became one of the best defensive big men in college basketball averaging a staggering 3.2 blocks and 10.1 rebounds per game while improving his scoring to 11.7 ppg. While Henson is wildly talented he still hasn’t reached his potential and still lacks in terms of his low post ability. If your not the best big man on your team, your not the leader of the team so we’ll continue our search for the Tar Heel court leader.

That brings us to Harrison Barnes who came into his freshman season last year as possibly the most hyped freshman in college basketball history.   Barnes became the first freshman in history named to the pre season All American team and was seen as the guy that could put UNC over the top and back into national contention.  Barnes started slowly, playing tentative basketball and settling for way too many long jumpers.  Barnes was supposed to be a Lebron James like phenom that would storm the college ranks the likes of Carmelo Anthony and dominate from day 1.  Well that didn’t happen, to be fair Barnes wasn’t playing on a team that needed him to carry them on their backs like Anthony was at Syracuse.  Barnes had to learn team basketball, learn to play without the ball and sometimes a supporting role and learn that certain nights he wouldn’t be the first or even second option depending on the match ups.  Playing at UNC is different than playing at other schools, almost the entire team was an All American in high school and each player must learn to adapt his game to the UNC way.  While Barnes played ok the beginning of the year he really took off when fellow freshman PG Kendall Hunter entered the starting lineup.  Coming on strong and establishing himself as UNCs offensive go to player on the wing Barnes shined as the regular season came to a close and was the clear star in the ACC and NCAA tournaments for the Heels.

Barnes was a projected top 5 pick in the NBA draft this year and he along with Zeller and Henson considered the move to the pros but chose to come back for another season and a chance at a national title.  Barnes held a 20+ppg avg in the NCAA tournament and hit big shot after big shot for this team down the stretch.  There is no doubt Harrison is the most talented and complete player on the floor for coach Roy Williams’ bunch.  What Barnes must do is look past the fact that this team has about 7 or 8 NBA players on its roster and assert himself as the best and lead this team.  All great teams no matter how “stacked” they are need that star to step up in crunch time and hit the big shot, the guy that goes for 40 pts in a must win vs. Duke.  Barnes along with Ohio St Jared Sullinger are the best players in college basketball this season.  While Sullinger needs other players to feed him the rock, Barnes can take control by handling the ball more on the perimeter something he worked on this summer.  UNC is stacked, but so is Kentucky, Ohio St and in order for UNC to cut down the nets in March Harrison Barnes will need to not only be the best player on the team, he will need to be a superstar.  My bets on Barnes winning National Player of the Year and dominating the college game like no player since Carmelo Anthony.  More on that in a future article (SPOILER!)

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