Wed Apr 06 05:03pm EDT
Even if standout freshman Harrison Barnes ultimately decides to enter the NBA draft, North Carolina's other two frontcourt stalwarts apparently will spend another season wearing Tar Heel blue.
Sophomore forward John Henson and junior center Tyler Zeller both announced Wednesday afternoon they will return to North Carolina next season.
The 6-foot-10 Henson averaged 11.7 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.2 blocks last season, while the 7-foot Zeller put up 15.7 points and 7.2 rebounds. Both were projected to be mid-to-late first-round picks had they turned pro.
"I know at some point I want to play in the NBA, but right now I want to enjoy my college life," Henson said. "My teammates and coaches are great and I want to help them reach the big dreams we all share."
Added Zeller: "I want to finish my college career, compete for championships and graduate on time. That means a lot to my family and me. Plus, I know I can get stronger and improve my all-around game with another year."
While North Carolina would likely begin next season atop the preseason polls if Barnes opts to return as well, the decisions from Henson and Zeller all but ensure the Tar Heels will be considered Final Four contenders. Point guard Kendall Marshall and sharpshooter Reggie Bullock will also be back from this season's Elite Eight squad, while the Tar Heels will welcome a freshman class that includes McDonald's All-Americans P.J. Hairston and James McAdoo.
Barnes told the Daily Tar Heel earlier this week that he likely will not make a decision until at least next week. North Carolina coach Roy Williams corroborated that in the school's Wednesday afternoon release.
"Harrison is not as far along in his decision-making process as were Tyler and John," Williams said. "I am still gathering information on him from NBA teams and hope to provide him with all of that information by the end of next week."