"This is hard losing three great young men, who are great players," Roy Williams said. "But this is a happy day, because everybody has dreams, and these three have dreams of playing in the NBA.
"As a coach, you are sad, but only because you're not going to get to coach these men anymore. There is nothing else to be sad about. It's a thrill for me. They're going to be able to do things for their families they can't do as college basketball players. And, they won a national championship."
ESPN Insider calls Felton a "guaranteed lottery pick" (Top 13) and ranks him as the No. 3 point guard in the draft. The online publication has Williams ranked as the No. 1 wing forward and his father, Marvin Williams Sr., was reported as saying Roy Williams' preliminary research projected his son would be the third pick in the draft. May isn't listed on the power forward rankings because it was assumed by the publication as of last week that he'd return to UNC for his senior season.
"It's been wonderful," Felton said. "It's been a dream come true. It's tough for the decision that I'm making today. Everybody has been wonderful. "We've been through something special. I just want to announce I'm putting my name in the draft this year. But I will come back and get my diploma."
Felton led the ACC last season with 6.9 assists per game and a three-point field goal percentage of .440. He was fourth on the team in scoring with 12.9 points per game and was fourth in the ACC with 2.0 steals per game. He also received the Bob Cousy Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame as the top point guard in the country.
May led the 2005 NCAA Tournament in scoring and rebounding, the first player to do so on the title-winning team since Danny Manning of Kansas in 1988. May scored 134 points (22.3 per game) and had 64 rebounds (10.7) in Carolina's six NCAA Tournament wins. A first-team All-America, May had 26 points and 10 boards in the title game vs. the Illini. He averaged 17.5 points and 10.7 rebounds on the season, earning first-team All-ACC honors as well.
"I want to thank the University for the opportunity," a solemn May said. "I love it here, people here have been great. I want to thank Coach for everything that he's done for me. I want to thank Coach Smith and Coach Ford for never turning their backs on me.
"This is a day of mixed emotions for me," he said. "I've had a wonderful career here and I'll always remember it. This place opened its arms to me after living in Indiana. I love Chapel Hill; I could see myself coming back here and living here for a long, long time."
"With that…I'm going to put my name in the NBA Draft. I'm not giving up my education; I'm just giving up my college eligibility."
Williams was one of the nation's best freshmen, posting 11.3 points and 6.6 rebounds despite not starting a single game. His free-throw percentage (.847) was fourth-best in the ACC.
"I want to thank everyone," Marvin Williams said. "I'm putting my name into the NBA Draft, also. It's sad because I love playing for Coach Williams. I love my teammates and my classmates. But it's a happy time for all of us."
Fans' concern over the projected lack of experience for next season is a valid one. As it stands right now, the 2005-06 reigning national champs will have combined for just 33 career starts, including just one last year: David Noel (17-fr., 3-so., 0-jr.), Byron Sanders (12-fr., 0-so., 0-jr.), Quentin Thomas (1-'04-'05), Damion Grant (0), Wes Miller (0) and Reyshawn Terry (0), to go with walk-ons Brooks Foster (0) and Jesse Holley (0).
Currently, the Tar Heels have signed letters of intent from high school seniors: guard Bobby Frasor (6-3, 192, Chicago), guard-forward Marcus Ginyard (6-5, 200, Arlington, Va.), forward Danny Green (6-5, 200, Manhasset, N.Y.) and forward Tyler Hansbrough (6-9, 225, Poplar Bluff, Mo.); and are actively pursuing forward Uche Echefu (6-8, 225, Rockville, Md.), while searching for other potential additions.