CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Brandan Wright enjoyed playing for Roy
Williams and knew North Carolina could contend for a national
championship next season. He just couldn't pass on the chance to
take care of his family by entering the NBA draft.
"I was definitely torn in my decision," the freshman said
Monday during a news conference. "There are so many positives and
negatives in me entering the draft. But I feel like the positives
outweigh the negatives."
The 6-foot-9 forward's decision didn't come as a big surprise
considering he is projected to be a high pick. And while Wright
said he doesn't intend to sign with an agent yet -- a move that
would keep open the possibility of a return to school next year --
Williams said the 19-year-old was almost certain to remain in the
"I think the decision is 99.99 [percent] that this is what he's
going to do," Williams said. "It's not that he's trying to get
more research or anything like that."
Wright joined All-American Tyler Hansbrough on a dominating
front line for the Tar Heels (31-7), who lost to Georgetown in the
NCAA Tournament's round of eight. With his long, lean frame and
soft touch around the basket, Wright ranked second on the team at
14.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
He also shot 64.6 percent, leading the Atlantic Coast Conference
while setting the league's freshman record. He was the ACC rookie
of the year -- the third straight season a Tar Heel won the award --
and was honored as most valuable player of the league tournament
for helping North Carolina win its first title in nine years.
Williams said his research determined that Wright was a sure
top 10 pick who could reach as high as third. But considering he
weighs just 205 pounds, Wright knows he'll have to bulk up to get
ready for the NBA.
"Personally I feel like I can come to a team and do a lot of
good things," he said. "I'm going to work like crazy this summer
to get ready for the rigors of a long 82-game season. I feel like
I'll be ready next year. It should be fun."
Wright becomes the 15th player to leave the program early for
the NBA draft, joining notable names like James Worthy, Michael
Jordan, Jerry Stackhouse and Vince Carter. But unlike two years ago
-- when the Tar Heels lost four underclassmen after winning the
national championship -- North Carolina is losing just one.
Hansbrough, the team's scoring and rebounding leader, announced
earlier this month that he'd return for his junior season. In
addition, point guard Ty Lawson and wing guard Wayne Ellington said
they'd return for their sophomore seasons, meaning the Tar Heels
will have six of their top eight scorers back next season.
The biggest uncertainty could be how well rising sophomores Deon
Thompson (6-8, 245 pounds) and Alex Stepheson (6-9, 225) fill the
void from Wright's departure.
"There's definitely a little bit of pressure because he
provided so much for the team," Stepheson said. "It's on the big
guys to step into that role and do what he did."