Lawson and Ellington both declared for the 2008 NBA Draft without hiring agents last spring, but decided to return to school for their junior seasons when neither player received the feedback from general managers and scouts that they wanted with regard to their draft status. That opportunity is available only once in a player’s career.
After helping to lead North Carolina to its fifth NCAA national championship with a 89-72 victory over Michigan State on Apr. 6 in Detroit, it’s been widely assumed that both players would bolt for the riches of the NBA. Lawson (16.6 points and 6.6 assists per game) earned ACC Player of the Year honors, while Ellington (15.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg) was selected as the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.
But on Thursday night, Roy Williams indicated that no decision has been made for either player.
"I have no idea... But we are in the process right now,” Williams told a small group of reporters after the ceremony. “I'll gather information from at least 10 NBA general managers, player personnel directors [or] whatever title they have, and then give that information to Ty and Wayne. Then they'll give me a decision, and I would think it would be in the next couple of weeks, at the latest.”
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the June 25th draft is Apr. 26th, which means the decision must be made within the next nine days. Neither player was available to talk to reporters.
“I visited with Ty and his mom and dad for 25 minutes [on Wednesday night], and that is it,” Williams said. “I visited with Wayne for five minutes, and if I can get away from you guys, I’m going to go upstairs and spend another 10 or 15 minutes with he and his family tonight. I’ve told them, ‘Relax and enjoy the dickens out of this time period – You don’t have to be 75 years old tomorrow.’ So we haven’t pushed it and there’s no need to push it right now.”
But Williams made it clear that his opinion probably did not mean as much as the information he would be providing his starting backcourt, saying, “I think they're relying on the information and not necessarily my advice because they're going to do what they want to do and that's what I want them to do.
"But I want it to be an informed decision. I'm extremely happy regardless of what they do. I'm extremely thankful regardless of what they do. If they decide to come back, of course, I'll coach them. If they don't, I'll go back and say it again: I'm extremely thankful for what they've already done and that I was able to coach them for three years."
Regardless of how their final decisions, North Carolina will at worst suffer half of the underclassmen losses that it did following the 2005 national championship, when three juniors (Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants) and one freshman (Marvin Williams) announced their intentions to enter the NBA Draft. Current freshman Ed Davis has already indicated that he will back for his sophomore season.
Tyler Hansbrough has been badgered following each of the previous three award ceremonies about his decision to turn pro, and on Thursday, the four-time All-American proudly proclaimed that he would be entering the NBA Draft this season, although neither he nor fellow senior Danny Green have hired agents yet.
“I’m in the process of looking at agents and talking to them, and seeing which one I like,” Hansbrough said. “I would say by the end of next week I’ll have an agent.”
Several thousand fans turned out to witness the celebration of the 2009 national championship, highlighted by seven senior speeches and a 30-minute highlight montage, that ended more than two hours after it began.
Highest Field Goal Percentage – Ty Lawson
Highest Free Throw Percentage – Danny Green
Outstanding Rebounder – Tyler Hansbrough
Most Assists – Ty Lawson
Foy Roberson Award (inspiration behind the scenes) – Marcus Ginyard
Most Improved Player(s) – Wayne Ellington & Ed Davis
Outstanding Defensive Player – Bobby Frasor
Scholar-Athlete Award – Jack Wooten
Captains – Danny Green, Bobby Frasor & Tyler Hansbrough
MVP – Tyler Hansbrough & Ty Lawson