Hansbrough: Decision to Return an Easy One

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina freshman sensation Tyler Hansbrough thrilled Tar Heels fans when he recently announced his plans to return to school and forgo the opportunity to play professionally next season. Following the 2006 UNC men's basketball banquet on Tuesday, Hansbrough said the decision was not a difficult one.

"To be honest with you, I didn't think I was ready for the NBA at all," Hansbrough said. "I may be later on down the road, but I didn't think it was this year.

"I still think there are a lot of things in college I still want to do. There are a lot of accomplishments as a team I want to do, and I think there are still a lot of things I can do to get better and expand my game to where people think I am really ready for the NBA."

Hansbrough told head coach Roy Williams shortly after the Tar Heels' NCAA second-round loss to George Mason that he wasn't leaning towards declaring for the draft. Hansbrough said Williams told him, "If I was in your shoes, I would come back."

"It didn't surprise me," Williams said. "We talked about it and I told him to come back the next day and let me know what he was thinking. It didn't even take him that long.

"Tyler is a youngster that enjoys life. Marvin Williams was great, however if it hadn't been for the financial situation, he would have never left college because he enjoyed college basketball so much more than what anybody does in the NBA."

After becoming the first rookie to ever lead the Tar Heels in both scoring (18.9 ppg) and rebounding (7.8 rpg), Hansbrough was named first team All-America by The Sporting News, became the only freshman to be a unanimous first-team All-ACC selection and was undisputedly the nation's top freshman.

It's not clear where Hansbrough would have been drafted this June, but he's going to wait; citing room for improvement in his game and the desire to win a national championship at UNC.

"Getting a ring would be really important to me," he said. "To be among those considered one of the best teams Carolina's had and put a banner up there would be really nice.

"This season a lot of people doubted us. We'll definitely be in a different situation next year coming in all hyped up."

Hansbrough noted the talent of his returning teammates and the arrival of what's been widely considered the best recruiting class in the country as additional enticements for his return.

"I haven't seen the ['06-'07 signees] play a lot. But I know I saw Wayne [Ellington] score 31 in that Hoops Summit game. He played really well. I saw Tywon [Lawson] play a little bit. They'll definitely come in here and make a big impact and contribute real quick."

However, Hansbrough stressed his team remained grounded as the Tar Heels will likely enter next season ranked among the nation's Top 5.

"Obviously we know we're getting a lot of hype, but we're going to have to stay within the team," he said. "It's going to be tough. We're going to have to come out, work really hard and listen to our coach."

Finally, Hansbrough was asked if he's leaving after next season.

To which he replied, "I'll just take it year by year."

J.B. Cissell contributed to this report.

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