Anyone Else Ready For Hansbrough’s Senior Season?

The rarest of all birds, a national player of the year returning to play his fourth season.

UNC fans should line their calendars up now because barring unforseen circumstances something special is coming in November and can be seen in local arenas possibly into April. In these days of earlier NBA defections, Tyler Hansbrough will do something simply unheard of, return to for his senior season after accomplishing so much individually. A perfect storm of dominant college skill that does not quite translate to the NBA has made this possible and as a Tar Heel fan I am thrilled at the chance to witness it.

It is rare enough to have that once in a few decades type of player and now even more so for that player to remain all four years. Looking back at UNC history I would think Phil Ford finishing his UNC career as the all time leading scorer and NPOY is the last time Tar Heel fans witnessed that special senior season. Yes there have been three other Heels who have had their jersey retired but in all three cases they left as juniors for the NBA and in many ways the fans were robbed of seeing them play one more time once their greatness was known.

The aspect of Hansbrough’s return that will be compelling is the fact he is already at the pinnacle among the greatest of Tar Heel players. Hansbrough already has the NPOY awards necessary to place his jersey on the front row. His stats are an incredible testimony to his skill and dominance on the court. In most cases players need the full four years to truly establish their greatness or as inidcated above they reach it then head to the NBA. No so this time and the benefit for we, the fans, is seeing him play one more season of games knowing Hansbrogh is one of greatest Tar Heel players ever. We are afforded a farewell tour of sorts from Hansbrough and we understand that the sheer nature of this being his final season could mean something special might happen. Records will fall but beyond that the one thing that would truly set him apart is to own the records and a national title ring.

This kind of season, should it end up in the Final Four come next April, is a story CBS will find almost too good to be true. A player like Hansbrough making a return trip to the Final Four with one last chance to attain the greatest prize his sport has to offer is gold for the media. For the fan it will simply be a incredible moment that has its odds of success increased dramatically should Lawson and Ellington return. Even if they do not, is it possible that Hansbrough could put this team on his back and carry them to the title he covets so much?

Anything is possible and regardless of how it ends up, UNC fans will be be treated to something they may never happen again. His place is not in question and by the seventh or eighth game of the season Hansbrough’s statistical prowess will be unmatched. Having Hansbrough return and play his senior season will be like watching a living legend take the court in a four months plus encore performance.

And we are very fortunate to be along for the journey.

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31 Responses to Anyone Else Ready For Hansbrough’s Senior Season?

  1. 52BigGameJames says:

    “Having Hansbrough return and play his senior season will be like watching a living legend take the court in a four months plus encore performance.” well put! I will be happy and not surprised, if/when he improves as much for next season, as he has with each succeeding season he’s been here.

    We need a new category of “All-time UNC teams”, and this guy leads the voting. I don’t know what to call it, but Tyler and Hubert Davis are my first two.

  2. keithunc says:

    I’m also ready for Lawson’s and Ellington’s junior seasons.

  3. 52BigGameJames says:

    me too keith 😉

  4. Chris says:

    Well said THF! A nice tribute to a great young man.

  5. Will says:

    I think we have two different scenarios that could happen next year. If either Tywon or Wayne leave, we will have some backcourt depth issues, but we will have a flood of bigs. This may give a chance for Tyler to work more on the outside, hopefully improving his skill set for the NBA and helping us win at the same time.

    If Tywon and Wayne both come back, I think we will have a McCants circa 2004-05 situation. Tyler will be the favorite for POY again, but he will forgoe that award in favor of getting everyone involved and scoring, thus giving the team more balance in a run at the title.

  6. Rathskellar '68 says:

    It’s trite to say it by now, but for heart, desire, determination and having his head in every play, he is the best to have worn the uniform. Indeed, there is no competitive virtue he lacks.

    When even Billy Packer admits he’d pay money to see him play, you know we’ve got something special.

    The only quasi-serious crtiicism you hear of him is that he won’t be a big-time pro. But that is off the mark for three reasons. First, it’s sheer speculation. Second, it’s not very thoughtful speculation; Jerry Stackhouse took several years to develop as a successful pro, even while no one doubted his potential to be one. He had to learn the NBA game and adapt to it. So will Hansbrough. But how successful a person is at learning depends largely on how much he wants to, and Hansbrough’s drive cannot seriously be questioned. Finally, the “not-so-hot” pro criticism is simply irrelevant. How good a college player one is depends on — guess what! — how well he plays in college. Hansbrough has already given the answer to that. With any luck, he will turn up the volume on that answer in the senior season the rest of us will have to privilege to watch.

  7. keithunc says:

    If “Testing the Waters” was so innocent why wouldn’t Tyler do the same. TTW is a way for kids to get away from the public eye of are you going or staying. They can leave basically in the night without alot of hoopla. My big fat gut tells me they are gone.

    I personally don’t think that either are ready. But that’s not why one leaves. $$$. I in no way blame them.

    I don’t think Ellington will ever be ready. To small. As for Lawson, maybe next year. He’s lightning quick, his shot is so so but in the NBA if he can dish the ball he should be okay.

    I hate talking negative about any Carolina player, I love both of them. Heck they could date my mom.

    This has just been a round about way of saying COME BACK.

  8. keithunc says:

    mom’s still married to dad, he might have a problem with it.

  9. Chris says:

    Not if he’s a true Carolina fan………

  10. keithunc says:

    True

  11. Wilson says:

    I saw Tyler last night. He was getting A LOT of love. No Ty or Wayne, though. I suspect they’re laying low…

  12. Josh Bowling says:

    Even in the absence of Wayne & Ty, next year should be very exciting to watch, as it may remind me of the 2006 season. Chris & Keith, you all are too funny. My Dad had better move out of the way as well. There are some things in life you have to submit to.

  13. Josh Bowling says:

    Doesn’t it all boil down to how well Danny Green can start, and how quickly Graves can develop, and how good a shot Larry Drew has? That is our wing. We have to be good at the wing for those big boys to have some room to do their damage

  14. wcb22 says:

    I have seen a number of people debate whether Wayne and Tywon “are gone.” I think what is left out of these predictions is that Tywon and Wayne will leave if they are going to be drafted at a certain slot, but they will come back if they fall below that slot. The problem for us is that we don’t know Ty and Wayne’s standards. Are they both satisfied if they make the 1st round? Or do they want to make the Top 20 or Lottery? Or, do they know they will not make their desired slot and want to learn what they need to improve on?

    I understand the frustration of not knowing these answers, but this is life as a college basketball fan in the 21st century. Please try think before bashing our players NBA potential.

  15. Josh Bowling says:

    Exactly, we have no idea how they are going to stack up against other competition. They did pretty fine in the college game.

  16. Josh Bowling says:

    No matter what happens, we will get to see history go down in Hansbrough’s college career finale. Is it feasible for him to beat out Redick’s scoring record as well THF?

  17. william says:

    Should they stay or should they go? I don’t think it matters a whole lot either way. Hansbrough was the key guy we needed back.

    We may be more like the teams from Hansbroughs freshman and sophomore years in terms of wins and losses, but by the end of the season, I think UNC can be equally good with or without Ellington and Lawson.

    I think Frasor and Drew can probably give us equivalent all around play on offense and defense to equal what we got from Lawson and Thomas, this year. We all saw, unfortunately what can happen to Lawson’s game when a team figures out how to take away his drives through the lane to the basket and it was not pretty. I don’t think Ty is 5′ 11″. For all his improvement, Thomas seemed to revert a bit and did not look great against Kansas.

    At the end of the day, it’s hard to know why someone would draft Lawson over Mario Chalmers and I think he will be back. It is an open question just how good Tywon actually is and I think he can make himself some more money with a big Junior year. I do think that while Frasor and Drew could equal what we got this year at the point, that Lawson might actually improve greatly by learning a bit more how to defend and how to play within himself on offense, so I think his potential loss is more of a concern than that of Ellington.

    With respect to Ellington, I think many of us expected a break-out year after the first Clemson game and it just did not quite happen. Ellington was merely very good and unfortunately did not seem to be quite as good during crunchtime. Graves had a similar offensive rating this year, and Ginyard is a better defender, and both of them are taller than Ellington and can probably equal his overall production.

    I think we have seen enough of Ellington to know that he is more Hubert Davis than Jerry Stackhouse–both excellent players, of course, but a Stackhouse or Vince Carter can create his own shoots and carry a team much more when they really need it. Ellington seems to need to come off screens to score and there are plenty of guys who can do that–Wes Miller, for example.

    But all things considered, Ellington can probably do pretty much what he does at UNC in the NBA, especially with the line moving back in the college game next year. I think his leaving probably makes more sense, both for him and for UNC in terms of the players behind him. Unless Ellington desperately wants to win a national title, he probably should take the plunge as I doubt his stock will improve a great deal next year.

    Danny Green finished the year being Carolina’s second best player, which is probably not something many people expected, but Thompson and Stepheson were the weather vanes of the team. When they were on, the team was unstoppable and when they were off, Hansbrough got hammered inside, as in the Clemson games and the Kansas game.

    This team played too small ultimately, to run away with the title, a la Florida. They were still excellent but their true weaknesses seemed to be both down low and three point shooting. The good news is that they are moving the line back next year and that should favor UNC, as should the addition of some bigs.

    I hope Lawson and perhaps, Ellington, come back because I honestly think that UNC could have a shot at going undefeated, but by next March, I don’t see a lot of difference and I see both Lawson and particularly, Ellington, as much more replaceable than say, Brandan Wright was this year (not many people threw over him for alley-oops).

    Ultimately, it is hard to know what happens year to year. Both Kansas and UNC may actually have been better last year having each lost one undergraduate to the NBA draft, but both ended up going farther this year.

    One thing is certain. To the extent that players care about more than money, fame is much more easily and memorably achieved in the college game.

    Christian Laettner will always be a famous basketball player in a way that Elton Brand will not. Michigan’s Fab 3 of Rose, Howard and Webber are much more known for their college play than their pro play, in spite of all three being all stars at some point. Whether Tyler Hansbrough becomes an all star in the NBA remains to be seen, but I can pretty much guarantee you that 20 years from now, Hansbrough will be much more famous than Dwight Howard or Luol Deng.

  18. keithunc says:

    wcb22 I hope I wasn’t bashing our players. Just giving my uneducated NBA opinion. (Have only watched a handful of games since Jordan retired)

    I really don’t really care about our players in the NBA. Sure I hope they do well and achieve all their goals and aspirations. I LIVE for my HEELS to play basketball. The next 6 months are the worst there are. There is nothing to read on the Carolina website. Nothing on any of the ESPN’s. In the past I’ve felt alone only able to talk to my wife about my Heels.

    Hopefully this site will continue to talk basketball through the summer.

    So Sorry to seem like I was bashing MY Beloved Heels.

  19. brandon says:

    my opinion no way wayne leaves no way, if he does he’s the biggest fool who ever played for unc besides forte, believe me i’ve heard reports he may not even get drafted come on, as for lawson if he just does ok at the camps no way he goes in the first round, and if that ankle is at all stressed thats it for him

  20. gregandshea says:

    “I honestly think that UNC would have a shot at going undefeated …”

    That’s wishful thinking. I don’t think in today’s ACC that you will see an unbeaten team. There are too many times that even the best ACC team has a so-so night and any other ACC team, even toward the bottom, has a spectacular night. Expecting an undefeated season if Lawson and Ellington come back is putting way too much pressure on these kids.

  21. keithunc says:

    nice William, Carolina’s problem is that we haven’t had much athletic ( jump out of the gym ) size. As well as our three point shooting (lacking for years). Ellington is getting better with his shot and I am more confident him shooting it more ( as if anyone cares ) but I no longer say NOO when he lofts on up. I know yell “Get In” which is what I say to the T.V. thats right the T.V. when someone shoots who I have confidence in ( If it’s a tight game I also stand up for free throws and bend my knees three times for them and take a deep sigh (so they relax and think of nothing but shooting) before all free throws.

  22. keithunc says:

    I will miss Ellington running the break. Probably the best I’ve ever seen.

  23. william says:

    Of course it is wishful thinking, as I am wishing for it. Carolina only lost 3 last year, so it is not a projection of some kind of incredible improvement. UNLV almost did it in 1991 and Memphis should have gone undefeated this year–Carolina came reasonably close to doing so in 1982, although they played fewer games then. Illinois lost 2 close games at the very end in 2005 and came close to going 39-0. I think it will happen again, but who knows when. You need to be great and a little lucky.

  24. Josh Bowling says:

    I have enjoyed your post William. You are right on the money in regards to fame for much of our players will be in the collegiate level. I hope that some of them can rise to prominence in the NBA. I still have a little fear of Frasor (reinjuring) and being a little sluggish (miss almost a whole year), but maybe off season training can elimitate some of that. I don’t want to “rag” our big 2 too much, as they did do a lot for UNC basketball this year,and, if it weren’t for such a dismal Kansas performance, could have even won a national title. I like our players and coach, and with a little tweaking, could be in another run for it again. I say sweet 16, and with some luck, we can do more.

  25. wcb22 says:

    keithunc – I know you and everyone else on this board are huge UNC fans and only care about our team winning titles. It’s a real dilemma now because we want Roy to recruit the best players on one hand (and laude them), and then naturally want to bring them back down to earth when they suggest leaving. That is really trying to have things both ways. Usually, if they are top recruits, they are NBA prospects from the beginning.

    The truth is we need these kids to have success in making the NBA in order to continue to recruit the best players. So it really goes hand in hand.

  26. Josh Bowling says:

    That it does wcb22.

  27. Does anyone know if there has been a college player that has ever been a 4-time first team all-American? Could Tyler be the first to do it? THF, do you know?

  28. chuckheel says:

    THF,
    Why is everyone jumping to the conclusion that Ellington, Lawson and Green are not coming back?
    You yourself said that this is good way and non-commital way for a college player that has aspirations of one day playing in the NBA to see where he stands, get feedback from the teams to find out what they need to work on to better their draft position.
    I think, in the end, Lawson and Ellington will see that they can definitely better themselves draft position wise, by coming back to UNC and I believe they will do so.
    As for Green, I think his family is pressuring him to enter the draft. Nothing more, nothing less. But unless he is a first-rounder, which I very seriously doubt, I see him coming back as well.
    What do you think, THF?

  29. Leann says:

    As a NASCAR fan, I think I’m viewing Tyler’s senior season as his victory lap after winning all those NPOY awards. This is not only his opportunity to tahnk the fans for being behind him throughout his college career, but it is our opportunity to thank him for making us believe in the college basketball player, again (something the NBA ruined many years ago).

    Personally, I think our opponents have the right to increase ticket prices. Afterall, this is a rare occurance. Why not capitalize on that?!

  30. Leann says:

    As a NASCAR fan, I think I’m viewing Tyler’s senior season as his victory lap after winning all those NPOY awards. This is not only his opportunity to thank the fans for being behind him throughout his college career, but it is our opportunity to thank him for making us believe in the college basketball player, again (something the NBA ruined many years ago).

    Personally, I think our opponents have the right to increase ticket prices. Afterall, this is a rare occurance. Why not capitalize on that?!

  31. marc oneal says:

    Is anybody ready for the fact that Tyler’s Senior Game is going to be against dook? It will certainly rival Phil Ford’s Senior Game in terms of emotion.

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