Dave Telep: "That's a difficult one to answer. I can narrow it down to two guys – either Ellington or Lawson. The only reason why I don't say Brandan Wright is because Hansbrough is sitting right there. I think it'll be Tywon Lawson because, to me, if Carolina is going to get to Atlanta the first week of April, he'll need to be a major part of that whole deal. He has a chance to make the biggest impact, but it's all relative when you're talking about this group with three guys who are elite level players now who will at various points in the season make their presence felt in a big way."
On a national scale, besides Greg Oden, who are we going to be looking at March as national Freshman of the Year candidates?
DT: "If Greg Oden wasn't hurt, I don't think anybody would impact college basketball more than he would. His wrist injury throws a bit of a wrench into that. I think you absolutely have to look at Spencer Hawes at Washington and what the Huskies will do – he'll be in the mix for an award like that. After that, the class of ‘06 was so good, it may be a deal where it goes to whoever has the best opportunity – nothing different than what Tyler Hansbrough did last year. He was the best freshman, but also had a great opportunity. Hansbrough had all the opportunity and delivered on every bit of it – so he won the award.
"With that said, you've got to look at Thaddeus Young at Georgia Tech. You can't go wrong with guys like Hawes and Young. The biggest X factor of them all is how is how Kevin Durant's game as a freshman at Texas is going to translate. He's obviously one of the most talented guys, and if he gets it rolling, he could run away with that award. And then you have one other guy who I'm watching out for – who has improved more than any other freshman coming into college – Hasheem Thabeet going to UConn. He's flat out running down hill. If he's as good as some think he is, that guy could be your dark horse candidate right there."
What's the word on Patrick Patterson?
DT: "If UNC really wants him, they've got a two-week window now as he sets up visits. Will they make the push? I don't know, but there are a lot of factors there that few are aware of. Maybe they feel like they can't him? There are some schools that have been after him a long time and really have their hooks in. Maybe they don't feel they can make a lot of headway. The next two weeks will determine how that goes. We know there are a few schools that are really in the mix and have prioritized him for a long time. By early September at the latest, you'll have the answer to that question. Patterson has been extremely loyal to the schools that were on him early - Kentucky, Wake Forest and Florida – those schools have been there a long time and he's shown a lot of loyalty to them. And Duke is in the mix strong as well."
What's the deal with Tyrel Reed – how do you see that situation evolving?
DT: "It's a completely unique situation because of the relationship that exists between the family and Coach Williams. It's got to work out well for both parties. North Carolina is not exactly beating down the doors of 2007 guards across the country because it's not a position of need. Yet they have an unbelievable relationship with the kid and the family – he's a guy they'd like to have, but is it the best situation for both parties? Some tough decisions will have to be made on both ends. That's why it's taken a while to really sort itself out and UNC and Reed might not be able to sort it out for a while. Reed is a guy who looks like a kid Roy Wililams flat out wants to have in his program, but Reed being in the class of 2007 isn't ideal for the two parties."
Do you see UNC going after any other 2007 guys or will they just fold up the tent after Reed and Patterson and move on to 2008?
DT: "There aren't a whole lot of guys left who fit their profile. When I think of UNC's 2007 recruiting, to me it looks like their gameplan was ‘Let's make a total swing for the fences with Kevin Love, and if that doesn't work out, we'll check out some other guys, see if we really like anyone and then on to ‘08.' With the group they have in the program, they know they'll probably lose a couple guys, so they sniffed around 2007 and they found the guy they liked, didn't get him, perhaps haven't fallen in love with anyone else at this point. Because of what they have in the program, their recruiting plan is more long term than short term."