We’ve discussed the future of current North Carolina freshman Harrison Barnes and how he is leaning towards retuning to school. Well, now two of his teammates have decided to bypass the 2011 NBA Draft and return to Chapel Hill.
On Wednesday both Tyler Zeller and John Henson announced they will be back at North Carolina next season. That means even without Barnes, the Tar Heels have to be considered a championship favorite in 2012. With McDonald’s All-Americans James McAdoo and P.J. Hairston scheduled to be on campus this fall, Roy Williams is going to have a ridiculously loaded roster even if Barnes heads to the draft.
Henson is very raw offensively but is a great defensive presence. He averaged 11.7 points, 10.1 points and 3.2 blocks per game. Zeller blossomed in the tournament, raising his averages to 15.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Zeller and Henson will easily be the best inside duo in the nation. Mix in sophomore-to-be Kendall Marshall at point guard and the Tar Heels look stacked.
This year UNC reached the Elite Eight with a squad loaded with potential but clearly it hadn’t reached its ceiling. They could be fun to watch next year.
Zeller and Henson’s announcement also had the effect of further weakening the 2011 NBA Draft, which might be the worst in a generation. If Barnes skips out on the draft as expected, the 2011 class will be that much worse.
Some fringe first round prospects might decide to go pro because in a normal year they’d fall to the second round, but in a year like this they might get taken much higher.