The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday February 28th

Four Tar Heel alumni selected in NBA draft

It's not every day that an NBA legend compares himself to a league rookie. But that's exactly what happened with Tyler Hansbrough.

After being selected as the 13th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft last Thursday Hansbrough found himself face to face with Indiana Pacers president and now his boss Larry Bird at an introductory conference for the team's fans.

Although Hansbrough will not be known for his 3-point prowess or his constant ability to score in the clutch at least not yet anyway" Bird still made the dramatic statement.

""(Hansbrough's draft situation) reminds me of when I came out" Bird said Friday to fans. There was always this skepticism that I wouldn't be able to play in this league against these players. Tyler's got some of that going right now" but he'll be fine.""

If the similarities between the pair continue" he most certainly will. Both are from small towns. Both could have left college early but returned to play for national titles. Both were known as tireless competitors. And both had their athleticism questioned time and again.

But when Bird came to the NBA the doubts didn't matter. He became one of the most dynamic shooters in the league's history while registering 12 all-star appearances.

Though it's unlikely for Hansbrough to duplicate such successes as a low-post scorer it's not entirely unfathomable to think that he can be an NBA starter. With his selection by Indiana Hansbrough finds himself playing once again in an up-tempo type offense. Having excelled in such a previous situation while at UNC the Pacers could have found a key contributor with their lottery selection.

Three more Tar Heels found themselves being chosen though none as high as Hansbrough. Five picks after the former UNC forward's selection North Carolina's speedy point guard Ty Lawson saw his name surprisingly come off the board.

The shock wasn't that Lawson was picked so high but rather that the Minnesota Timberwolves were the ones doing so having already picked two point guards with the No. 5 and No. 6 choices. UNC coach Roy Williams evidently felt the same way as he was caught by ESPN cameras looking puzzled while holding three fingers in the air.

Shortly thereafter" the Timberwolves cleared up any confusion and traded Lawson away to the Denver Nuggets.

""Ty Lawson" going to Denver playing behind a guy like Chauncey Billups I think he's going to be a heck of a backup and a solid player" basketball analyst Dick Vitale said in an ESPN interview after Lawson's trade to Denver was announced.

Unfortunately for Lawson, the trade meant that he wouldn't get a chance to continue playing with Wayne Ellington — who was also picked by Minnesota at pick No. 28.

With a logjam at point guard in Minnesota, Lawson appears to be in a better situation with the Nuggets. He'll get to learn from Billups and excel off the bench with his speed. Ellington, on the other hand, figures to do just fine with his new team.

The Timberwolves management has suggested that the team will play with a smaller, faster type squad. If that holds true, Ellington should crack the rotation with his excellent spot-up shot.

(The Timberwolves) are going to get a guy who can score and a guy who can shoot who's getting better at putting it on the floor" Williams said in an interview with ESPN after Ellington's selection. Rebounding" he's doing better. He's doing better defensively. But the bottom line is he can score.""

The final Tar Heel choice of the night came when the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Danny Green in the second round. Although Green will find cracking the Cavs' rotation a predicament early on" he at least figures to be a prominent member of the team's pregame theatrics.

With LeBron James widely known for his comedic skits along with newcomer Shaquille O'Neal" Cleveland figures to be loaded with laughs.

And with Green having already achieved legendary status in Chapel Hill for his ""Jump Around"" routine" it doesn't appear too farfetched for another NBA great in James to try comparing himself — albeit his dance moves — to another Tar Heel.


Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.


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