Commentary

Larry Drew II leaves Tar Heels

Updated: February 4, 2011, 7:40 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

Just as the Tar Heels are playing their best basketball of the season, winning four in a row since being blown out at Georgia Tech, junior guard Larry Drew II decides to leave the team.

Drew has left the program to transfer, and I ask, why now? He has been a major contributor lately and had nine assists in the last game against Boston College.

You have to wonder about the timing of this decision. A move like this, early in February, cannot help the team emotionally and physically.

Losing a key player in the rotation is never a good situation. It puts more pressure on the guys still there, including diaper dandies such as Kendall Marshall.

Drew must be concerned about his future, and this all comes down to playing time. If you are not happy, you decided to go elsewhere. To have this happen before Florida State and Duke is incredible to me. The Tar Heels have turned the corner, winning nine out of 10 games.

Harrison Barnes has turned into the player many expected, scoring 25 and 26 in the last two games.

Now they lose Drew, a guy who passes the rock well and creates shots for others. Early on, fans were on Drew's case, and maybe that played a role in his decision.

No excuses, stuff like this happens all the time. Guys come into a major college program and have high expectations. When it doesn't work out, they leave.

Larry Drew II could have shown class by meeting face-to-face with coach Roy Williams instead of having his father call at first. Let the player be a man in this situation.

North Carolina was also hurt by the transfer of the Wear brothers (David and Travis) at the beginning of the season. They headed back to the west coast, to join Ben Howland's club at UCLA.

It will be interesting to see the effect this has on the Tar Heels for the next few games. At this point in the season, it is extremely tough to lose a piece to the puzzle, especially when he played such significant minutes.

This is a blow for North Carolina. He is a good player, not like a Phil Ford or Kenny Smith. It is the timing that has me surprised.

We will see how the Tar Heels respond to this latest challenge.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.