Both UNC, Illinois face massive roster changes

Originally Published: April 5, 2005
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

ST. LOUIS -- Marvin Williams better stay.

If he doesn't, North Carolina is looking at a complete rebuilding situation.

The freshman forward was noncommittal after the title game about whether or not he would return for his sophomore season.

Williams could be a top-two or three pick if he opts for the NBA draft. No one is saying he's ready to play in the league, but his potential means he could command that type of draft status.

Williams is the anchor to the Tar Heels next season. Why? The Tar Heels are definitely losing four players, and possibly six. Williams' departure would make it seven.

Junior Rashad McCants said after the Tar Heels' victory that he would hold a news conference in a few days to make his announcement.

This will be about as suspenseful as Monday's Hall of Fame announcement that Connecticut's Jim Calhoun and Syracuse's Jim Boeheim will be inducted into the class of 2005 after word got out on Friday.

"I've known for a while that Rashad would leave," North Carolina junior Sean May said.

May has said for weeks that he would return for his senior season. But that was before he was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player and was easily the most dominant big man in the NCAA Tournament. May has his national title to match his father, Scott, and soaring stock that could land him in the lottery.

"I'll sit down with my father and make a decision," May said. "Raymond [Felton] could have an opportunity to leave. The big fella, Marvin, might leave, so there's no telling what might happen."

Felton, who is in the same junior class as May and McCants, started off his day by winning the Bob Cousy award as the top point guard in the country. Felton then came up with the clinching steal and converted key free throws to ice the championship game. He's considered a potential lottery (or at least first-round) pick, too.

"We're just going to enjoy this and not worry about the next season," Felton said. "I'm not thinking about it right now. I'm going to enjoy this moment and then me and my family will sit down. Whatever's best for me, I'll do. Of course, if I were in the lottery …"

He'd go like the rest of them. But the real cutoff point could be lower -- as in the first round -- since they might not know how high they'll go before June.

The Tar Heels signed four players for next season, highlighted by forward Tyler Hansbrough, who has all-ACC freshman team and national freshman of the year capabilities.

Returning role players David Noel, Quentin Thomas and Reyshawn Terry have the potential to be more productive, but probably aren't the anchors for the team next season.

We already knew that the Tar Heels were losing seniors Jawad Williams, Jackie Manuel and Melvin Scott. So, in a worst case scenario the Tar Heels could lose seven players. Now that Roy Williams has a national title, though, the Heels' faithful can be a little more patient.

What about Illinois?

The Illini could lose as many as six players. Four of them are seniors -- Luther Head, Roger Powell Jr., Nick Smith and Jack Ingram. Expect junior guard Deron Williams to declare for the NBA draft and likely stay in rather than check his draft status. Junior guard Dee Brown might just go through the draft process, going to Chicago before pulling out if he's not guaranteed a first-round spot.

If Brown returns along with senior James Augustine, Richard McBride, Brian Randle, Calvin Brock, Fred Nkemdi, Warren Carter, Shaun Pruitt and three signees, including shooting guard Jamar Smith, the Illini have a potential NCAA team again. But if Brown goes, like the Tar Heels, the Illini would be without an experienced lead guard to keep them at or near the top of their conference.

This was a tremendous run for both teams. It's a shame it's unlikely to be repeated again next season.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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