The North Carolina Tar Heels are no doubt going to suffer as a team with Kendall Marshall declaring for the NBA draft. They will suffer from some serious growing pains. Declaring himself eligible for the NBA draft early is not good for the Tar Heels. It is, however, good for Kendall Marshall. Many people get those two things mixed up when assessing a player leaving early. As a huge North Carolina fan I will miss Kendall Marshall, but he is making the right decision in going to the NBA now.
What would Kendall gain by coming back to the Heels one more year?
Normally I am a huge proponent of players staying for all four years. If I had my way, that would be the standard and leaving early would be against the rules. Since we are not living in that NCAA world any longer, I am forced to look at things as they are. Kendall Marshall gains absolutely nothing by returning for another year to Carolina. In fact, he might actually lose a great deal. Would his shooting improve? Would he suddenly gain foot speed? Would he become a dynamic defender? Would his assists to turnover ratio improve? It is not likely that any of these things would happen by any drastic measure.
Marshall's numbers would have to regress if he returned.
Marshall would not have the big men to feed like he has had during his career up till now. With Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson moving on to the NBA, Marshall would likely have his stock drop severely if he went back to Carolina. These big men down low were a huge part of the record breaking numbers that Marshall put up in winning the Bob Cousy award.
When would Marshall ever look better to an NBA scout?
Marshall has some shortcomings to NBA scouts even now. Despite improvements in these areas, Marshall still falls short of the NBA standard in the areas of foot speed, scoring and defense. Only his incredible floor leadership and passing ability allows him to be sitting in that first round pocket going into the draft. When you think about Marshall as a first round pick, it would be hard to imagine him improving on that by returning to a weaker supporting cast and rebuilding type season. Right now the time is ripe for Marshall.
Though Marshall certainly would have been welcomed back in North Carolina, he almost certainly is maximizing his chances for success by going pro early. He will be missed a great deal in Chapel Hill, but the time is right.
*Southern is a lifetime Carolina Tar Heels fan that grew up watching Phil Ford and the boys lead Dean Smith to basketball immortality.
- North Carolina Tar Heels