UNC's Felton, May, Williams Leaving For NBA
Posted April 22, 2005 2:16 a.m. EDT
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The mass exodus continues in the wake of the North Carolina Tar Heels' championship run. Raymond Felton, Sean May and Marvin Williams announced Friday that they are leaving school to enter the NBA Draft.
Rashad McCants was the first UNC player this season to announce that he would be leaving school early to go pro.
Coach Roy Williams, who was at the press conference with Felton, May and Williams on Friday, will begin defense of his first national title without his top seven scorers from 2004-05. He is also losing seniors Jawad Williams, Jackie Manuel and Melvin Scott.
"I've coached a lot of great players and these three here are at the top of the list," coach Roy Williams said during a news conference Friday on the floor at Dean Smith Center.
Felton, May and Williams said they had not yet hired agents, but that they intended to and were currently were interviewing agents.
Speculation had intensified over the past few weeks about how many more UNC players were going to leave school early to enter the NBA draft. Last week, sources told WRAL's Jeff Gravley that Felton would definitely enter the draft. On Wednesday morning, the swirl of draft status talk continued with May and Williams.
North Carolina now has only one player on its roster who started a game last season -- point guard Quentin Thomas, who replaced the suspended Felton in the opener.
Felton, May and McCants were part of a heralded class recruited by former coach Matt Doherty. But the team sputtered during their freshman year and Doherty resigned under pressure.
In their second season under Roy Williams, who left Kansas to coach his alma mater, the Tar Heels won the NCAA crown, beating Illinois 75-70.
"It's been a lot of tough times, and it's been a lot of great times, especially winning the national championship this year," Felton said.
May addressed the coach, who joined his players for their group announcement.
"I really didn't know the talent I had and when you came here, you brought that out," May said.
May had said immediately after the season that he would be back, but the burly, 6-foot-9 center backed off in recent days. He was magnificent during the NCAA tournament, averaging 22.3 points and 10.7 rebounds while shooting 67 percent.
Williams said May's decision made sense considering he was voted the outstanding player at the Final Four.
"I don't think he's a cow or a piece of beef or anything, but his stock is pretty high," Williams said.
Williams has one of the best recruiting classes coming to campus, and he'll need as many top players as he can get. Forward David Noel, mostly a reserve during his career, is the leading returning scorer with an average of 3.9 points. Noel and Thomas are the only players from the regular rotation coming back.