Tuesday, May 25, 2010

UNC Gets Knox, Wear Twins Head To UCLA

North Carolina entered this week already with three very good frontcourt players for next season: Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes. But that was it, and you can't go into a season with only three big men, particularly since Harrison Barnes is more of a swing forward than a big man, and because of Tyler Zeller's history of injury problems. I spoke just a few weeks ago about the need for North Carolina to add another big man or two with the loss of the Wear twins.

North Carolina now has a fourth quality big man, landing Justin Knox, who will be able to play immediately after graduating from Alabama, where he averaged about 5.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game over 83 career games. He's no superstar, but at 6'9" and 240 pounds he's a big body who will be plenty qualified to eat minutes. And because he played three years for Alabama he is only a one year commitment, and his scholarship will be freed up for the 2011 recruiting class. Short of landing a superstar, this was the best case scenario for the Tar Heels: an experienced player who could eat minutes and who could play right away without tying up a scholarship for more than one season.

To be sure, Roy Williams is still looking to add another player. One player whose name keeps getting mentioned is Kadeem Jack, who also is considering going to prep school for a year before joining a school's 2011 class. But now that Williams has a fourth big man he will not be as desperate to land another player, and might just bank his leftover scholarships (I'm not certain if he's got one or two available) for the 2011 class, where the Tar Heels are already in play for several blue chippers.


Speaking of the Wear twins, they have made a decision and will head to UCLA. It's a move that makes sense, because the kids grew up and went to high school in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, and because it gives them an opportunity to play for one of the nation's premier programs where they'll immediately have a chance to play big minutes. While both were rotation players for North Carolina this past season (both got approximately ten minutes per game), they were probably never going to be more than that because of the revolving door of McDonald's All-Americans there. UCLA is in desperate need of filling out their roster, and I'd expect the Wear twins to play big minutes.

This is also just one more sign that UCLA is a program that is reloading after an everything-that-could-go-wrong-did-go-wrong season. They have a big time 2010 recruiting class (led by a high school teammate of the Wear twins, ironically: Tyler Lamb), and can now effectively add the Wear twins to their 2011 class. Because the Wear twins can't play in 2010-11, I do still think that the Bruins are a bubble team for the 2011 NCAA Tournament, but there's no question that they now have positive momentum after nearly a year of consecutive bad news.

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