North Carolina is looking like it will likely be the preseason number 1 ranked team next year after big men Tyler Zeller and John Henson announced they will be returning to Chapel Hill next season. If Harrison Barnes joins them, you can take that preseason top ranking to the bank.
Barnes is projected to be a Top 5 NBA pick and as high as the number 2 pick. Barnes figures to immediately help a NBA team’s firepower with his efficient scoring abilities by either playing off the ball or by creating shots for himself. He has NBA size and shows impressive maturity given that he is only 18-years old. The potential NBA lockout is probably the only reason for him to hesitate entering the draft. He has until April 24th to declare, but can withdraw his name and come back to school by May 8th (assuming he doesn’t sign an agent).
Zeller and Henson coming back isn’t too surprising. Both were going to be first round picks, but both can come back and work on some of their weaknesses. They can only improve their draft status with another year of college (and with their size and athleticism, they’re never dropping out of the first round).
Tar Heel fans will gladly take 2 out of 3 of their stars returning and can hope that the lockout scares Barnes into coming back. Either way, with James McAdoo rocking the Carolina blue next year- the Tar Heels will be National Championship contenders.
***Added bonus for the Carolina faithful, Kyrie Irving leaving Duke early.