NBA Draft Update: North Carolina, Memphis lose star underclassmen

04.13.10 7 years ago 9 Comments

UNC's Ed Davis

It was only one year ago, but given North Carolina’s recent struggles, their ’09 national championship seems like ancient history. But if you remember, back when Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green were leading the Tar Heels to the crown, Ed Davis was a freshman backup drawing comparisons to Marvin Williams.

At a skinny 6-10 with a babyface and a lefty post game, Davis doesn’t play anything like Marvin; rather the comparisons came from the likelihood that had Davis gone pro as a freshman — despite his limited role on the Tar Heels — he would have been drafted ahead of his upperclassmen teammates based on youth and potential. It was just like when Marvin was taken 2nd in the ’05 NBA Draft as a freshman sixth man, ahead of teammates Ray Felton, Rashad McCants, Sean May and Jawad Williams, who all played bigger roles in leading UNC to their national championship that year.

But Davis went back to school, and in turn, risked hurting his draft stock. He averaged 13.4 points and 9.6 rebounds in a feature role with UNC, but Davis also missed significant time with a broken wrist and watched his team fall from defending champs to an NIT berth. And although Carolina will be significantly better next year thanks to a star-studded recruiting class, Davis has decided to go pro anyway.

Meanwhile, Elliot Williams could have been winning a national title with Duke this year, but after a promising freshman campaign with the Blue Devils in ’08-09, Williams transferred to Memphis to be closer to his ill mother. Able to avoid having to sit out one year under transfer rules, the 6-5 wing averaged 17.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists this season. While he led Memphis to 24-10 record, the Tigers missed the NCAA Tournament and also had to settle for the NIT. Williams is also going pro.

Davis and Williams are projected first-rounders. Davis is slotted in many mock drafts to go in the Top-10, while most have Williams going somewhere in the 20s.

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