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June 23, 2009Carolina coach Roy Williams said that he expects to hear at least three of his players' names called in the first round of the annual National Basketball Association draft on Thursday, and he will be there to see their faces at that magic moment.
For only the second time, Williams plans to accompany his players to the draft. He never attended the event during his 15 years as the head coach at Kansas. He went with his guys after the Tar Heels won the national title in 2005. That year, UNC had four players drafted in the first round.
"I always thought it was more of a family thing," Williams said. "But in '05, we had four guys going in the lottery, and Marvin [Williams] said, 'Coach, I would really like for you to be there.'
"It was hard for me to say no to Marvin Williams."
This time, Tyler Hansbrough is the one who asked Williams to attend, and if there is one person who Williams would have an even harder time saying no to than Marvin Williams, it's Hansbrough.
Of course, Williams will also have the benefit of being there with Wayne Ellington and Tywon Lawson, both of whom are expected to be selected in the first round.
Danny Green is expected to be selected in the second round.
"I doubt if there will be anything for the rest of my life that young man might ask me that I won't try to do," Williams said of Hansbrough. "There thing is it will be a joy for me to hear his name called and Wayne's and Tywon's."
The draft will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, and ESPN will televise it.
Lawson, Ellington and Green all worked out for pro teams last year, but decided to return to school instead of entering the draft. Their decision turned out well for them and Carolina as the Tar Heels won the national championship.
Williams said the year benefited the players as individual performers as well. He said the professional scouts and coaches he has spoken with said all those guys are more prepared now after seeing them in all the pre-draft camps.
"I'll be the most stunned guy in the world if [Tyler, Wayne and Ty] are not all number-one draft choices," Williams said. "I've talked to 10 or 15 NBA teams in the last month and seven or eight in the last 48 hours. So that is the best way to say it. I'll be stunned if all three are not first-round picks."
Nonetheless, none of the three seem to get the respect that the players did after winning the title in 2005. This team dominated the NCAA Tournament in a fashion that no team has since Indiana in 1981. The play of Lawson, Ellington, Hansbrough and Green was a key reason why, too.
No one in the tournament had anyone who could guard Lawson, yet many reports coming out before the draft have Lawson listed as the fifth or sixth best point guard available.
Williams said he believes those lists have to do with style of play as much as individual skills.
"Some guys don't want to run," Williams said. "If you're going to draft Tywon Lawson and tell him not to run the ball, that's like telling Tiger Woods every chip shot around the green you have to hit left-handed or something stupid.
"To me, those that have Ty listed below some of those other point guards, I'm sure some of it is they want to have an opportunity to play more half-court and have less freedom to run the ball up and down the court."
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