"It means a lot," said Hansbrough, who finished fifth in the voting for the award last year. "I was in just in such a great situation with coaches and teammates. I feel like I've improved so much."
He earned 4,653 points in the voting to beat out second-place Michael Beasley of Kansas State (4,402), who was followed by Kevin Love of UCLA (3,021), D.J. Augustin of Texas (2,266) and Stephen Curry of Davidson (1,936).
More than 1,000 national media and college basketball experts cast votes based on players' regular and postseason performances, character and academic performance. Unlike most player of the year awards, votes could be cast as late as the NCAA Tournament's regional round.
Hansbrough led the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring (22.8) and rebounding (10.3) as the Tar Heels (36-2) were ranked No. 1 for all but six weeks this season and went to the Final Four.
The NCAA title was the one trophy he was denied, which may influence his decision whether to forgo his senior season and enter the NBA draft. He has revealed very little about his plans for next season.
"I haven't decided," Hansbrough said. "I just haven't really had time. It's been so quick after the season. I haven't had time to get everything under control."
Hansbrough said he wasn't setting any hard deadlines, but said he plans to return to school and talk to Tar Heels coach Roy Williams.
"After a week or so we'll see what happens," he said.
Hansbrough joined Phil Ford (1978), Michael Jordan (1984) and Antawn Jamison (1998) as national players of the year from North Carolina.
Hansbrough more than assured he will have his jersey retired in Chapel Hill along with those three and James Worthy.
For a North Carolina men's player to have his jersey retired, he must win at least one of six national player of the year awards: The Associated Press, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, Sporting News, the Naismith Award and the Wooden Award.
Hansbrough has won all six.
"It would be nice to win them all over again next year, but still I have to improve a lot and make some decisions," Hansbrough said.