Roy Williams, Tar Heels Continue To Avoid “1-And-Done” Era


The 2006-07 basketball season marked the first year of the “one-and-done” era, which forces the future of the NBA to do something for at least one year before entering the draft after high school. In this time there have been many great players to grace the college basketball floor for one season, jump to the NBA and become superstars.

Players like Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and Kyrie Irving. That wouldn’t be the complete list, but you get the point. And if you notice something about all of those players listed or any one-and-done players in this time that went on to great success in the NBA, none of them are UNC alums.

Some people think this is Roy Williams missing out on the big-name players and being out of touch with recruiting. I think those people are completely out of their mind and should be beat up. What Roy Williams has done in this time is recruit teams, not individuals. Yes, the Heels haven’t won a title since 2009 but it’s not because Roy Williams isn’t capable of recruiting big name players.

Think about his coaching career, when has he ever gone after the big fish in recruiting players? He doesn’t go after the big-name, no doubt NBA stars like the players listed above to build his program around. He goes after good to great players that need time to develop and will stick around. Everyone was convinced that Harrison Barnes would jump after his freshman year, Roy got him to stay for two years and it has done him wonders for his NBA development.

My question is, why does it seem that UNC is one of the few “basketball powerhouses” that hasn’t fallen into the revolving door of these “super-freshman” that, in my opinion, are more often than not ruining college basketball and slowing down the development of the NBA game.

The reason, to me anyway, is most years there aren’t more than one or two really great, program-changing freshman to go after. I think Coach Williams would rather go after the 4 star type recruits that aren’t ready to jump into an NBA starting line-up right now, knowing he will be able to land them within the rules of NCAA recruiting [Clears Throat *John Calipari*].

North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina Tar Heels /

North Carolina Tar Heels

Another reason I believe in this theory is something I’ve stated before about the style of play the Heels run under Williams. His fast-break is not something players pick up in just one pre-season or even an entire season. He wants them to learn and understand the game so they leave better than they came.

The entire time he’s been at UNC there have been just a few players to leave for the NBA after his freshman year, Brandan Wright and Marvin Williams to name two. Remember Brandan Wright? Had a ton of potential as a freshman, would’ve played on the epic 2009 title team? He’s had an underwhelming run in the NBA because he wasn’t ready. The rest of the players from that era have gone on to have much more success than him in the NBA.

Ty Lawson is the best point guard in the NBA that will probably never be an NBA All-Star. Danny Green is a player that, if used properly, the way the Spurs have could start or play big minutes on any team in the NBA. Tyler Hansbrough has been more than the unfair Mark Madsen comparisons he got out of school and is a tremendous role player and hard worker. Even Wayne Ellington as a knock-down shooter has a role in the NBA for years to come.

But, let’s be fair. If Jahlil Okafor, Karl Anthony-Towns, Kevin Durant, or any other “super-freshman” said they only wanted to play for UNC and that was it, he’d welcome them with open arms. But to put all your stock into maybe getting one player when he’s got five or six other teams on his radar, to me seems like a waste of time.

What Roy has done is pick and choose the style of player for his team and develop them in his system and what it has done is give him a team of upper-classmen poised to make a deep run at the NCAA championship next season. I’ve enjoyed Roy’s teams over the years because I get to know the players for the team I’m following and see them develop. It’s nice to know that if a freshman comes in and plays well for them, it’s not a guarantee that they’re leaving the following year.

Coach Williams, don’t ever change how you recruit. The last of a dying breed.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Harrison Barnes stayed for three years at Chapel Hill. It has been corrected to say that he stayed for just two.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Brandan Wright was the only one and done player under Roy. Marvin Williams has been added to that list.