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News » Tar Heels trio testing waters, but not jumping in yet

Tar Heels trio testing waters, but not jumping in yet

Tar Heels trio testing waters, but not jumping in yet
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Tyler Hansbrough is probably hanging out with his family somewhere in Poplar Bluff, Mo., preparing for one final season in Chapel Hill.

One more go-around in an attempt to hang a national championship banner in the Dean Dome.

Three of his teammates are down here at the Milk House in an Orlando suburb with college basketball just about the last thing on their minds.

Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green aren't down here thinking about winning a national title. The North Carolina trio is squarely focused on getting to the NBA.

All three are "testing the waters," taking advantage of the new NBA rule which allows underclassmen to go through the process without having to pay a dime out of their own pockets, and are trying to showcase themselves in front of just about every NBA executive you could imagine.

Green was the first to play on Wednesday afternoon with Boston Celtics boss Danny Ainge courtside, Bobcats exec Michael Jordan in the bleachers and Indiana Pacers decision-maker Larry Bird in the crowd.

Green played on a bum ankle and finished with nine points, but he and his two teammates will be history — as long as they feel they are first-rounders in the June 26 NBA Draft.

"If I go in the second round, it would be in my best interest to go back to school," Green said.

Green is a long shot to go in the first round, but both Lawson and Ellington, according to several NBA types, have a legitimate chance to be taken in the first 30 picks.

"I'm surprised both of them are here playing," said one NBA general manager.

With all of the other potential first-round picks taking a pass on the Orlando pre-draft camp, it was a shocker to see Lawson and Ellington opting to play.

"I wasn't sure about playing, but I felt like people didn't see me at 100 percent for most of the year because of my ankle injury," Lawson said. "So I decided to come down here and play."

Maybe UNC coach Roy Williams knows something we don't. He feels as though both players will be exposed by their performance and forced to return to Chapel Hill. If they all come back, which appears less and less likely by the day, the Tar Heels will be the clear-cut favorite to win the title next season.

But Lawson said his mind is focused on getting to the next level. He's not thinking about school at all.

"You can't think about it," Lawson said. "I'm in this full-bore."

Lawson admittedly doesn't enjoy classes, so he said that if he's a first-rounder, he's "definitely going."

Ditto for Ellington, the smooth-shooting guard who could play his way into the first round with a strong performance in Orlando.

"I'm only staying in the draft if I'm definitely a first-round pick," he said. "There's no point in leaving if I'm a second-rounder."

The problem lies in the fact that few players are certain where they will be drafted right up until June 26. It'll depend on who the Tar Heels trio is truly listening to whether they wind up returning to school or not.

There's surely an agent or two out there ready to tell any and all three Tar Heels that they're a certain first-rounder just to get them to sign.

If Lawson, Ellington and Green all return to Chapel Hill, Hansbrough will be in position to close out his illustrious career in style.

However, that's not exactly the focus for his three potentially former teammates.

"It's different for Tyler," Green said. "He's not going anywhere. He loves college and is going to break every record. His family is financially stable, where me, Wayne and Ty aren't quite as stable financially. We aren't broke, but we're not in the same position as Tyler."

That's true. They aren't just miles, but worlds apart.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: May 28, 2008


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