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Tuesday, May 25, 2010
North Carolina scores with Justin Knox

By Eamonn Brennan

Justin Knox's transfer fracas seems to have worked itself out quite nicely. Sure, the Alabama transfer didn't get a chance to go to his first choice, UAB, thanks to an arcane rule preventing scholarship athletes from transferring within Alabama's state university system. But he managed to end up at a marginally reputable basketball program anyway.

Knox's landing spot is a place you might have heard of: North Carolina, a classic hoops program that struggled through a rare rough patch in 2009-10. Knox will have one year of eligibility remaining; he's finishing up school and using a graduate year as his de facto senior season, which is part of the genesis of his transfer in the first place.

Knox's patented graduate-and-transfer move couldn't come at a better time for the Heels. North Carolina doesn't exactly need all the talent it can get -- the Heels are stuffed with McDonald's All-Americans and have a top-rated recruiting class, including the No. 1 overall player in Harrison Barnes, arriving on campus this fall. But North Carolina does need all the size it can get. The Heels lost twin centers David and Travis Wear to transfers and NBA lottery pick Ed Davis to the, um, NBA lottery. The departures left the Heels with only two forward options in Tyler Zeller and John Henson. Knox will immediately boost the Heels under the hoop.

Knox's uncle Darien was outspoken and angry about Alabama's decision to block Knox's transfer to UAB. But he seems plenty happy about his nephew's decision now:
"All I can say is the whole family is excited," Darien Knox said. "We're all down here celebrating. We're happy for Justin that he's going to become a part of the Carolina Nation. It's Tar Heels all the way, baby. Let's go get a championship. We're ready to run through walls for the Tar Heels."

So sure, maybe Knox didn't get to transfer where he wanted, yet another victim of the drastic difference in career flexibility for players and coaches in college basketball. That was a bummer. But Knox's transfer seems to have worked out OK all the same.