Q&A with Roy Williams, Part III

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Roy Williams answered questions for an hour at the ACC's Operation Basketball media event last week. Read everything the Tar Heel head coach said in Inside Carolina's five-part transcription ...

How much does it gnaw at you to lose a guy like Brandon Ingram when your program wasn’t accused of any wrongdoing?

I have to be very careful with what you’re saying, because the investigation is not over with yet. You have to be very careful of implying something and I don’t want to do that. I have nothing negative against the NCAA and the way they’re conducting their program, except I’d like it to be a lot faster. If you look back and say, ‘well that cost us this or that cost us that’ it does make you feel bad, it does make it feel unfair. That’s the reason I didn’t use the word penalized, because we haven’t been penalized. But our whole university has suffered. And I think that those are very much evident in our mindset and everything about what you suffer and the different ways you suffer when something like this is going on. There’s no question it’s been harmful.

Do you think the NCAA cloud is the only reason for some of the recruiting difficulties or are there other challenges in perceptions with development or targeting one-and-done players?

Who knows what it is. I’ve had a youngster that said ‘Coach, I just don’t know that I can play.’ I said ‘well why the crap am I recruiting you? I think you can.’ And then we have other players who think they’re too good to play the way we can, so there’s no one answer. I do know that the recruiting part has been more difficult… I could say ‘you guys,’ but I won’t… the media promotes the idea of our guys staying more than anybody. Look in your own ACC handbook that was put out last year, who was the one school that had lost more guys early to the NBA draft than anybody in the last 10 years?

It was us, it wasn’t even close. And you guys don’t feel that way. Look at last year, we had either 15 or 16 and some other school had 10. But it’s promoted that ‘oh you go to North Carolina, Roy puts his handcuffs on you’ and stuff like that. But look it up. We fight myths all the time in recruiting. I asked some very knowledgeable high school coaches and high school prospects, you know Kentucky’s lost more than anybody in the last 10 years, we’ve lost the second most. But they gave me, there’s 351 Division I teams, one kid gave me 349 names. We’re the second most. But it’s promoted that North Carolina guys stay around.

Tyler Hansbrough stayed around. Marcus stayed around. We had Brandan Wright and Marvin Williams, I would recruit them today if they told me they were going to be there one year, I’d be the happiest guy in the world to coach them for one year. What John (Calipari) has recruited, what Mike (Krzysewski) has recruited, I tried to recruit those same guys. You don’t have any idea what makes decisions. I know that because of the stuff that’s been going on for the last two and a half years, I know we’ve suffered. I’m not saying that’s the only reason, but you go back and look. We had a pretty good run of a lot of McDonald’s All-Americans and all of a sudden we don’t. Maybe they think I got dumb a lot quicker. I can get dumb with the best of them but I don’t know that it was that fast. I don’t think that you can put it all on one thing. There is a myth out there. I guarantee you, all you guys were surprised by that. It’s in our own ACC handbook, we’re No. 1. But you guys didn’t know that.

Is it a cultural thing? Rapper Drake hangs out with Calipari and LeBron with Coach K. Do you feel like you have to compete with that?

Hell, I hang out with Steve Kirschner (UNC SID), he’s giving me a ride home today. I don’t know. Kids make decisions for unusual reasons. I am old school. I am old fashioned, but I don’t think I’m that much different from a lot of other guys. If somebody tells me I have to hang out with somebody to be successful as a coach, I’d probably have a problem with that. And I happen to like Drake, and I happen to like LeBron. …

When you’re recruiting kids do you look for a guy that might want to stay longer than other players…?

Did you think Brice was going to be a lottery pick?


Alright then, it’s got to be a two-way street guys. I love him. He and I have a great relationship but they weren’t beating the doors down to try to talk (him into) going to the NBA. Marcus would’ve been a No. 1 draft choice. I recruit players, I tell them this ‘while you are here. I want the University of North Carolina and our basketball team to be at least one of the most important things in the world to you… while you are here. Marvin Williams, I’d coach a million of him. I’d be the happiest guy in the world. I think Marvin Williams is the only one and done to ever go back and get his degree. I’m proud of that. To think that it’s something… I say that we’ve gotten to be a bus stop. I’ve said that publically between high school and the NBA, but while you’re at my bus stop enjoy the crap out of it. And while you’re there work your butt off and when it gets to be time for you to leave, I’m with you.

Reggie (Bullock), people made it a big deal because I said I wasn’t fully convinced that Reggie should go. That’s easy, if he was your son, you would’ve wanted me to think that way because no one guaranteed that they were going to take him in the first round. I had the last seven teams in the draft that year; there was only one that said they might take him. Well I think that’s stupid to go. I think it’s a great thing to go. Marvin Williams didn’t want to go. I said ‘son you’ve got to go. You’re going to be the first or second pick in the draft.’ Sean May said all year long ‘I’m not going, I’m not going, I’m going to come back.’ He calls me on Wednesday night after the national championship win on Monday night, we get back on Tuesday night and he says ‘coach, do you think my stock can get any higher?’ I said, ‘no, you need to leave.’ So it’s not like that I put handcuffs on them and it’s not like that I only want to recruit kids that don’t ever want to be in the NBA. Again, John Calipari… I recruit all those kids. And if I present an image that you’re not going to be successful here, that’s up to that individual.

Marcus Paige, both parents educators, after his sophomore year if he had said he wanted to leave I’d have said ‘I’m with you.’ J.P. Tokoto came in and said ‘coach, I just want to try it.’ I said ‘ok, I don’t think it’s the smartest thing. But I said OK, I’ll support you.’ None of you guys have called him five straight nights, I have. He was cut 48 hours ago. That’s not going to change the way I feel about him. If I have to change the sincere feeling that I have about what’s right and wrong, then kids need to go somewhere else because I’m not changing that…

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