Larry Drew II Leaves Chapel HillPosted by jstevrtc on February 4th, 2011
ESPN’s Pat Forde reported earlier today that North Carolina junior point guard Larry Drew II has decided to leave the Tar Heel basketball team and will transfer.
Drew was the starter at point guard through the first 17 games for UNC before losing the job to freshman Kendall Marshall after the Heels were beaten by 20 points by Georgia Tech on January 16th. Drew had endured a lot of heat from North Carolina fans and both local and national media regarding what just about everyone perceived to be a level of production that fell short of what was expected of him. The Georgia Tech game gave Roy Williams a reason to pull the trigger and insert Marshall into the starting lineup. The two have played similar minutes this year both before and after the switch.
We assume that Drew II will look to transfer to another D-I program. If so, his junior year is now over and he will have one year of eligibility left for next season.
If you believe what you read on a quick scan of certain message boards and the Twitter feed, the conventional wisdom is that Drew II’s departure can only help the Tar Heels. It’s too soon to tell if the switch has resulted in all the positive effects that Drew II’s critics assumed would transpire upon Williams putting Marshall into the starting lineup, since the “Marshall Era” is only four games old. Marshall is unquestionably a fine talent, and his play has remained steady since the switch. Drew II, however, seemed to benefit from coming off the bench in the four games since he was relegated there. He appeared to play with more urgency, especially on defense, and in UNC’s last game (Tuesday’s 106-74 win over Boston College), he dished out a season-high nine assists. In fact, in those four games, playing an average of 19.25 MPG, he contributed 19 assists while committing just four turnovers. Marshall (21.25 MPG) handed out 17 assists and with 11 miscues.
If Drew II’s departure rids the Tar Heels of a team chemistry problem, then it is certainly for the best. Still, it’s worth noting that Drew II owns a championship ring, playing in all 38 games as a freshman on UNC’s 2008-09 title squad. He’s played in four games against Duke, something Marshall will do for just the first time this Wednesday. Drew II’s leaving obviously opens up even more minutes for Marshall, but it also means that North Carolina now has a freshman as their primary ball handler and floor leader, and his level of responsibility just went up — a mere month before tournament time. Will this result in a continued Tar Heel resurgence? As we said, it’s too soon to tell. But we think it’s safe to say that Larry Drew II leaving might not be quite the boon that people think it is right now.