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* With a 2009 national championship trophy in their possession, hindsight confirms that Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green made the correct decision in returning to Chapel for the '08-'09 campaign. And according to Williams, Lawson and Ellington have made another solid choice in keeping their names in Thursday night's NBA Draft.
The Hall of Fame coach indicated that he has spoken with 10-15 NBA teams over the last month, including seven or eight in the past 48 hours.
"I really think they made the best decision," Williams told a large contingent of reporters in the Dean E. Smith Center's media room. "… I'll be the most stunned guy in the world if all three of those guys aren't No. 1 draft choices."
One NBA contact informed Williams that Ellington improved his stock by getting better in a variety of areas, such as creating off the dribble, sliding his feet and rebounding the basketball.
And while most mock drafts don't have Lawson listed quite as high as early 2008 returns, the reason behind that may be as simple as certain teams not wanting an up-tempo style that fits what the Clinton, Md. native thrives in operating.
"I can't speak to how they value somebody, but some guys don't want to run," Williams said. "… If you're going to draft Tywon Lawson and tell him that you're not going to run the ball, that's like telling Tiger Woods that every chip shot around the green, he's got to hit left-handed."
* Williams has always kept his distance from the NBA Draft's "green room," believing that it's more of a family thing than a coach thing. But when Marvin Williams asked if the UNC head coach would join him – and UNC's other three lottery picks (Ray Felton, Rashad McCants and Sean May) in 2005 – it was a request that he couldn't turn down.
For the second time in five years, Williams will be back in the "green room" at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, thanks to the prodding of Tyler Hansbrough, who is expected to be drafted in the middle of the first round.
"Tyler's smarter than everybody thinks," Williams said. "He had so many family members that wanted to go, I think that he told everybody that I had to go and that way it was one less decision for him to think… I doubt if there will be anything the rest of my life that that young man will ask me that I won't try to do."
* When UNC announced that red-shirt sophomore forward Will Graves had been suspended for the remainder of the 2008-09 season for an unspecified reason back on Feb. 3, the questions quickly mounted as to whether the Greensboro, N.C. native would actually be back for the '09-'10 campaign.
And while it appears that Graves will in fact suit up this fall, Williams told reporters on Tuesday that his small forward is still working his way back on the team.
"I don't know – we haven't discussed it," Williams replied when asked if Graves had been reinstated. "He's got some conditions that he's got to take care of, and if he takes care of those conditions, he'll be on our team [on Oct. 16]. But I have no plan to reinstate him. What I did was I said, ‘You are suspended for the rest of the season,' if I remember right. And so I'm under the assumption that he's going to do what I told him he has to do and that he'll be out there on [Oct. 16]."
When asked what Graves was doing this summer, Williams quickly replied, "Doing what I told him to do. It's pretty easy. He had two courses [and] made great grades in both of those courses. He's down in the weight room right now… He's doing exactly what he's supposed to do."
* Marcus Ginyard is another Tar Heel who didn't step foot on the court in UNC's national championship run, albeit for completely different reasons. The senior wing Ginyard had surgery on Oct. 8 on his left foot for a stress fracture and was expected to miss eight to 10 weeks.
He missed that time frame by several weeks, and was unable to return to 100 percent health, thus forcing Williams to red-shirt his defensive stopper for the remainder of the season.
Speculation arose in spring about Ginyard still working to get back to full health, and Williams answered an inquiry about his rising fifth-year senior with a broad brush stroke.
"Marcus is doing well," Williams said. "He's playing better [and] he's feeling better."
The seventh-year UNC head coach compared the situations surrounding Ginyard's role with the '09-'10 team and David Noel's role with the '05-'06 squad as "very similar."
"We even used that as an example when we talked about the pros and cons of sitting out the rest of the year, and I think that's something that appeals to Marcus," Williams said. "That sets a high standard. David Noel may be the best leader that I've ever been around."
* Losing Ty Lawson to the NBA Draft and Bobby Frasor to graduation places an extreme emphasis on point guard play in the coming season. While Williams noted that rising sophomore Larry Drew was the only "natural" point guard on the squad, he also indicated that Ginyard and incoming freshmen Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland will all see time at the 1-spot.
* Finally, there has been much talk about where incoming phenom John Henson – all 6-foot-10 of him – will play when he begins his UNC career.
"When we recruited him, we asked him to be able to spend a great deal of time working on sliding his feet, so that he would be able to guard a perimeter guy, and so initially, that will be our plan," Williams said. "But I don't like to make decisions in the summer about what someone will be able to do his first year in college because you never know how they will make that adjustment. But I would not be surprised to see John running around at the 3-spot… I think that he could be a 3, 4 or 5 for us."