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Lawson, Hansbrough plan to come back to UNC

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Tyler Hansbrough and
Ty Lawson will
return to North Carolina next season instead of entering the NBA
draft early.

"I've definitely decided that I will be back [for] my junior
year," Hansbrough said Tuesday night after the team's annual
awards ceremony. "Personally, I'm not ready for the next step of
the NBA.

"I just like being a college basketball player."
-- UNC freshman Ty Lawson

"Playing [another] year with coach [Roy] Williams will help me
improve my game individually. There's also some team things that I
want to accomplish. College is a great experience for me, and I'd
like to be here another year."

Lawson, who had the best assist-turnover ratio in the Atlantic
Coast Conference, announced he would return for his sophomore
season by deadpanning a joke during the ceremony at the Dean Smith
Center.

"I just like being a college basketball player," Lawson said
after the ceremony.

They became the third Tar Heels this week to announce they would
return for another season, joining shooting guard Wayne Ellington.

School spokesman Steve Kirschner said ACC rookie of the year
Brandan Wright has not made his decision and would have no
immediate comment. The early-entry deadline is April 29.

Williams said he doesn't expect Wright's decision before April
20 because the coach will spend much of the upcoming week visiting
his son in London and "I know he's not going to do anything until
I get back."

"Brandan, he is like a kid -- he's hoping if he ignores it,
it'll go away," Williams said. "I told him it will not go away.
He's not worrying about it. He's not stressing out over it. He has
probably thought about it less than I could ever, ever imagine in
that same scenario."

Wright had always been the most likely of the Tar Heels to leave
early because of his size and shot-altering wingspan. The return of
Hansbrough and Lawson wasn't a huge surprise -- both players had
said they were leaning toward coming back next season.

Williams said Hansbrough and Lawson reached their decisions
separately nearly two weeks earlier but kept silent "because I
felt like it would put undue pressure on Brandan to make a decision
quicker, but as we went along, it just got to be a situation where
we needed to go ahead and say something so we could get everybody
off their back."

Hansbrough was the ACC's fourth-leading scorer, its second-best
rebounder and a consensus all-conference selection -- one of only
four players in school history to be unanimously named all-ACC.

Lawson ranked fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 10.2
points, and his assist-turnover ratio of 2.57 was the best ever by
a North Carolina freshman.

Lawson's announcement was notable for its comic timing -- it came
during his acceptance speech after he was honored for leading the
team in assists.

"After thinking about things, talking to my parents, I think it
would be best if I took my skills to the NBA. I'm sorry," Lawson
said.

Dead silence.

"I'm just playing -- I'll be back next year," Lawson quipped,
drawing cheers from the crowd of about 1,000.

Hansbrough seemed to tip his hand by also cracking a joke during
the ceremony.

"I cut a deal with coach [Roy] Williams before the banquet that
I'd be back for my junior year only if he fired [assistant coach
Joe] Holladay," Hansbrough joked, drawing laughter and applause
from the crowd.

The Tar Heels (31-7) shared their ACC regular-season
championship, won their first conference tournament since 1998 and
were seeded No. 1 in the East Regional.

Their season ended in the East Regional finals -- blowing an
11-point lead to Georgetown.

Lawson said he will return "probably just to get better and go
deeper in the NCAA tournament, live out the memories that we had
this year."