Summer PC Notebook

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina head basketball coach Roy Williams held his summer press conference on Thursday, touching on a variety of topics that included the Wear twins' departure, incoming transfer Justin Knox and John Henson.

ROY WILLIAMS
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** The rampant speculation surrounding David and Travis Wear's departure goes a little something like this – the twins finished their freshman exams, jumped on a plane headed home to California on May 5th and had their father call Williams later that night to ask for their release.

It was clear on Thursday that the UNC head coach is still troubled by the whole situation.

"I have not spoken to them and I haven't dealt with it very well," Williams told reporters at the Ernie Williamson Athletics Center. "It was a hard thing. It was a surprise. But you have to move on. They have to move on and we do too."

During his 22 years as a collegiate head coach, Williams has only witnessed five transfers, and one of those was a walk-on at Kansas. Now the eighth-year UNC head coach has suffered three transfers in the past three years.

"It hurts because I lost two kids that I really enjoyed [and] it hurts because we lost two kids who were really going to be important to our program," Williams said. "I had also decided not to recruit a big man in the class behind them because I didn't want to over-recruit, so we lost two guys out of that class and we didn't have anybody behind them. So I haven't deal with it very well personally or for our program."

** The UNC coaching staff started turning over rocks all across the country immediately after Wear twins bolted. Williams indicated that six or seven players were quickly indentified, and incoming Alabama transfer Justin Knox was in that initial list.

Knox, who is finishing up his final two classes at Alabama to earn his degree, has signed a scholarship agreement with North Carolina and will have one year of eligibility remaining.

"He's a wonderful kid," Williams said. "He has experience, he has size and he's played in big arenas and in big games. We have a tremendous need. He has an opportunity to be extremely important and not just be a guy standing over there clapping, so I don't see any negatives myself."

** Will Graves stepped onto the Chapel Hill campus in the summer of '06 and checked in at a hefty 279 pounds, and his weight has been a hot topic ever since. The fifth-year senior dropped down to 239 for the 2008-09 national championship season, but an offseason back injury led to a 15-pound gain prior to last season.

Not helping the cutting process this offseason is his June 9th surgery to clean out scar tissue in his right ankle. Graves is expected back in action within the next two-to-four weeks, and that return will likely be met with a strong emphasis on getting down to playing weight.

"I've told him if he's 240, he's not going to start a single game, so that's pretty simple," Williams said.

** John Henson has kept his fans glued in to his weight gains this offseason through his Twitter account, and Williams confirmed that size increase on Thursday morning.

"He's really bulking up," Williams said. "He came in at 183 last year at this time and now he's at 208."

Henson came on strong during the last half of the 2009-10 season, thanks in large part to a variety of injuries that forced his move from the wing to the 4-spot.

"I haven't seen the guys play, but they tell me he's playing better and he says he's playing better, but John always says he's playing better," Williams said. "He's got a little splint on his finger on his left hand, which I told him is good because that will make him use his right hand instead of shooting that dadgum jump hook from 88 feet left-handed."

** Part of the allure of the North Carolina basketball program is the legendary summer camp pickup games that pit current Tar Heels against alumni in Chapel Hill.

With Leslie McDonald and Larry Drew not enrolled in the second summer session, along with Dexter Strickland on the sidelines due to a bruised right hip after colliding with Jawad Williams early in Tuesday night's game, the freshmen trio of Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock and Kendall Marshall joined Henson and Tyler Zeller to battle the horde of former players on the other bench.

"We had five guys out there, and three of them were freshmen, playing against 15 old guys," Williams said. "It was an 80-79 game, and the way the old guys acted when they won, it was a very important game because they were jumping around out there… It was vicious Tuesday. My wife watched the game. She's not a great scout by any means, but it was vicious out there."

** Owning the label as the nation's top-incoming recruit will undoubtedly place plenty of pressure on Tar Heel freshman forward Harrison Barnes' shoulders, but Williams didn't shy away from saying that the Ames, Iowa product would be instrumental in North Carolina's success this season. The head coach told a story from Tyler Hansbrough's freshman season that seemed to shed a little light on the coaching staff's expectations for the high-profile frosh.

"We were having our coaches' meetings in late August and I said, ‘Well, we're going to do this because Tyler can do this, and we're going to do this because Tyler can do that,'" Williams said. "Jeff Lebo goes back and tells Eddie Fogler, ‘I'm really worried because Coach is talking about a freshman and depending on him to do so much for this team.' And then after about five or six games, Jeff calls me back and says, ‘I apologize – now I see what you were talking about.'"

** If you were hoping for a detailed analysis of what changes Williams will be making for the upcoming season, then you will unfortunately finish this notebook disappointed.

"You guys always ask that and some of you would understand what I say and some of you wouldn't, but we'll just wait to the fall and you can see," Williams said.


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