Maybe but probably not.
One of the questions surrounding this team earlier in the season was why Roy Williams limited Ed Davis to around 20 minutes per game while opting for more Deon Thompson. I know here at THF we floated all kinds of theories from Davis' conditioning to Thompson's psychological fragility to Davis not being able to slide his feet as well on defense. One that I did not really consider was whether Roy was holding Davis back to keep the NBA at bay at least one extra year. J.P. Giglio at ACC Now asks the question:
Williams lost forwards Marvin Williams and Brandan Wright after only one season at UNC to the NBA. Is the Tar Heels coach trying to hide freshman forward Ed Davis from the NBA scouts?
Not based on the LSU game and you'll only see more of Davis going forward.
Interesting, when it came down to brass tacks on Saturday, Williams turned to Davis, who logged 25 minutes in the 84-70 win over LSU. The 6-10 freshman power forward finished with nine points and seven rebounds while starter Deon Thompson watched much of the second half and finished with six points and one rebound in 15 minutes.
It's go-time, and Williams understands that. Davis emerged as a force during the ACC Tournament, dominating Virginia Tech for stretches, and is playing better than Thompson. He's simply more aggressive with the ball and a better defender.
Ol' Roy's a lot of things but he ain't dumb. Plus, of all the positions Williams can afford to lose off of next season's roster, it's power forward where Thompson and Tyler Zeller return while top prospect John Henson arrives, along with the Wear twins. (You think Ol' Roy over-recruited there by accident?)
Of course Gilgio is working off an article written Mark Heisler in the LA Times over the weekend that basically said if you were drafting now, Ed Davis would be the 4th pick and the fact this would shock a ton of people would make Roy Williams smile. According to Heisler:
No one talks about him now, which, as one GM said, "is how Roy Williams wants it."
The one problem with this theory is Roy Williams has never been one to stand in a player's way where the NBA was concerned. Roy did not start Marvin Williams, not because he was hiding him but because he thought it was better for Jawad Williams and the freshman Williams gave them a jolt off the bench. In 2007, Roy started Brandan Wright in every game he was healthy because he was the best option to help the team win. This season has looked more like the Jawad and Marvin situation though I do not think Ed Davis is nearly as polished as Marvin Williams was. I think the most reasonable explanation is that Davis has simply blossomed late in the season. There were notable deficiencies such as foul trouble, a raw offensive game and I do recall Roy indicating Davis did not move his feet well on defense. As the season progressed it is obvious that Davis' game has vastly improved to the point he saw 25 mins verus LSU and Thompson only saw 15. In the case of the LSU game, Davis got more minutes because Thompson was not rebounding nor could he check Tasmin Mitchell. As Giglio points out, Roy knows it is "go time" and if that means Davis impresses the heck of out the NBA scouts while helping UNC win a national title, so be it. If 2005 taught us anything it is we wil survive.
I personally think Davis could stand another year, if for no other reason than to put on 15-20 pounds of muscle. A stronger Davis next season would be a terror for any team in the ACC to handle and playing with Thompson and Zeller means next season will not be as much a rebuilding years as the other ACC teams are hoping for.