June 16, 2008

North Carolina trio will return to school

More: Roundup: Who's coming back? | Budinger heading back to Arizona | Early entry tracker

North Carolina coach Roy Williams said Monday afternoon that underclassmen Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Ty Lawson have decided to withdraw from the NBA Draft and will return for the 2008-09 season, making the Tar Heels prohibitive favorites to win the national championship.

"After a long and exhaustive process of gathering information and sharing it with these youngsters, I stepped back and asked them to make their own decisions," Williams said in a release on the school's Web site. "I'm very pleased with their decisions because I get to coach them for another year. I'm also pleased that they went through the process and gained valuable information. It was reassuring that the feedback they got from the NBA teams is the same type of feedback our coaching staff has been giving them.

"It was a lengthy process, but one that is fair for these youngsters. Everyone should have the right to be evaluated in terms of possibly reaching his dreams. I feel strongly that all of these young men will eventually be NBA players. The timing was just not exactly right at this point. They had my 100 percent support throughout the process, regardless of which decision they might have made."

Lawson appeared to be the last holdout. Published reports already said Ellington and Green would be returning.

"The process of testing the waters has given me valuable information about my draft status, and I have decided it would be better to return to school," Lawson said in the release. "I love school, my teammates and coaching staff. I look forward to playing next season and trying to win a national championship."

The Heels will be strong favorites to do just that. They return the nucleus of the team that went 36-3 this past season and reached the Final Four, including the aforementioned underclassmen and consensus national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough.

Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.


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