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UNC notes: academic standards, Dex's knee

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- North Carolina chancellor Holden Thorp told The (Raleigh) News & Observer last month that the school would likely raise entrance requirements for UNC athletes ahead of new NCAA standards that will go into effect in 2016.

But Williams said at Wednesday's ACC Media Day he doesn’t know if that will happen.

“I’m not so sure that everything that appeared [in the article] was exactly what Chancellor Thorp meant,’’ Williams said, when asked if he thought such a change would affect recruiting. “I personally don’t think that anybody in the ACC is going to try to do any of those new measures before anybody else does them. I’m not trying to criticize my Chancellor here, because I love him to death. There’s some things that can’t be done; it’s just not right, not fair, you’re not giving somebody time to prepare.”

Williams expressed concerns to ESPN.com over the summer that this year's high school freshmen (the first who will be affected by the 2016 NCAA rule change) and the players coming behind them don’t know about the new academic standards, which could hurt their chances of meeting the standards later in their high school careers.

Under the NCAA’s new rules in 2016, the minimum required GPA for incoming freshmen will jump from 2.0 to 2.3, and athletes must complete 10 of their 16 required core courses prior to their senior year of high school. (Freshman who meet the old standards but not the new ones can take what’s called an academic redshirt.)

Williams was already worried that word of the new mandates weren’t getting out to the Class of 2016, so it stands to reason he’d be concerned if UNC chose to move those standards up to a year or two.

“So I don’t know that that’s going to be done,’’ he said. “I think North Carolina always has some high standards; we always have, I’m not against those whatsoever. But in my own mind, I don’t see us just jumping out of the window and doing something crazy now.

“We’ve had a problems,” he continued, referring to UNC’s scandal in the AFAM department and the investigations surrounding it. “We’re trying to fix the problem, we’re making a lot of changes for the problem, but for me, I think we’re trying to move ahead. The whole NCAA has got some new entrance requirements [beginning in 2016] … and I think that North Carolina will go along with those. If something is done earlier, I don’t have any idea. Nobody’s told me we’re going to do those things.”

STRICKLAND STILL RECOVERING: Williams said senior guard Dexter Strickland, who had surgery to repair a torn ACL last February, is 85-to-90 percent healthy.

“I still see him limping sometimes, but I think – and it’s good information from our trainers and strength and conditioning coach – that each week, he’s going to get better,'' Williams said. "I think, by the time the games start, I will not be able to see him limp out on the court.

“It’s a huge process -- he’s just eight months in. And to go back and be 100 percent after eight months is not normal on that deal.”

Strickland was UNC’s starting shooting guard, back-up point guard and best perimeter defender before he was injured at Virginia Tech. Williams has already said he expects freshman Marcus Paige to start at point guard this season.

Strickland was held out of Friday night’s “Late Night With Roy Williams” blue-white scrimmage “because it didn’t mean anything,” Williams said.

Asked if the team would have to be precautionary with the guard’s minutes early -- especially when they play a slew of games in a short time period, such as at the Maui Invitational -- Williams said he wasn't sure.

“I don’t know that I can even answer it yet, because I don’t know what I’m going to see,’’ Williams said. “When Tyler Hansbrough, his senior year, when he had that stress reaction condition, I was [so] worried sick every day, that I would talk to the trainers and they would tell me how much time I should try to give him -- if I was going to give him 10 minutes in one drill, eight minutes into it I would stop it. I just didn’t want to push it kind of thing.

“Dexter’s is a matter of getting everything around that knee stronger. We feel very good about the structure of the knee and the whole bit. It’s just, rehab’s what he’s going through.”

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.