Now that the brothers Wear have hit the wagon trail out west, the question remains: What should we take from the fact that two touted recruits are transferring, and where does that leave the 2010-11 Tar Heels?
See update at the end of the post...
Taking the second question first, Robbi Pickeral notes in the N&O that the 2011 Heels will be practically the inverse of the 2010 Heels. Whereas this year's squad was guard-thin and post-heavy, next year's group will suddenly be guard-heavy and post-thin. And, as this year's Duke team (and pretty much the other UNC national champions except 2005) proved, guards are what gets you through the NCAA tournament.
By all accounts, Travis Wear would have been a key contributor in the post rotation depleted by the loss of Ed Davis and Deon Thompson. Depending on how Roy was planning to rotate the bigs, it would not have been out of the question for Travis to jump up to 18-22 minutes per game and be a key contributor in that third post slot, much like Marvin Williams was in 2005 and Ed Davis was in 2009.
David Wear, on the other hand, had a much more murky future. David always seemed to be a "tweener" in that he was in between a true post player and a straight-up wing player. His hip injury has not fully healed, and it was looking to be a long climb up the bench behind Will Graves, Harrison Barnes, and the three post players for minutes.
On first glance, UNC got small in a hurry. On the other hand, small is relative in that Graves and Reggie Bullock are 6-6, Barnes is 6-8, Zeller is a 7-footer, and with his Inspector Gadget arms, John Henson's effective height is 8-2. It could make for some interesting lineup combinations, particularly in the ACC where there is no dominant big man.
The other thing the Wears' departure does is shorten up the UNC bench, which may be a blessing in disguise. Ol' Roy likes a deep bench, much to the chagrin of fans who often cringed when they saw one of the Wears headed to the scorer's table. There is message board banter that Roy will go after an un-signed 2010 player, but he may just keep that scholarship in his pocket for a 2011 or 2012 player (Austin Rivers, anyone?). Ultimately, losing the Wears probably impacts the Heels more in 2012 and 2013, as Caulton Tudor points out, although given the injury-prone nature of Tyler Zeller, nothing can yet be ruled out.
As for what the transfer of the Wears says about UNC, Roy Williams, and the state of the program, I would argue not much. There is a huge geographic issue going from coast-to-coast, and while UNC has had a number of California players that stayed four years and did well, having issues here are understandable. It's also difficult because the two Wears often operate as one unit, so in my opinion this isn't really two players transferring, just one. Alex Stepheson, Roy's other California recruit who transferred, had a serious family situation that caused him to miss time during the season, so I don't really count that one either.
Internet raconteur Bob Lee, who is often plugged into some of the inner workings of UNC athletics, offers up that the Wear parents might have been a major factor in the decision since they were of the helicoptering type (as were Daddies Drew, Henson, and Davis, according to Bob Lee). He also has a great line as to the pressure of playing 3,000 miles from home:
Being on a basketball team that kinda sucked and was ridiculed by your fellow students is not nearly as much fun as it sounds like it would be. The Wears can go to UC-Irvine and get that ..... and In/Out burgers.
The larger question is, "What did Roy know and when did he know it?" The official party line from Pravda Tarheelblue.com was that Dave Wear called Roy and asked for the twins' release, which came as a total surprise to the coach. Two things strike me about that sentence: First, that dad called to ask for the release instead of the players (see above paragraph); and second, that it came as a complete surprise. Carolina basketball under Roy Williams has a command and intelligence structure the Mossad would be proud of, so I have a hard time buying Ol' Roy was out of the loop on this one. I take that sentence as either Roy being coy, or that it was a potential Delvon Roe situation. It seems to me that Daddy Wear was the driving force here, not the players themselves (THF is of a different opinion, BTW, which is just fine because we will probably never know)[THF: Actually, having taken more time to look at this I am probably leaning more towards the "Dad called because he is running the show" camp. Carry on] In any case, I think that there are no long-range conclusions to be drawn by these events. Helicopter parent + 3K miles from home + lack of playing time + twins being a package deal= transfer. Nothing to see here. Move along.
In the end, probably by December none of this will matter and it will all be Harrison Barnes' world and we'll all just be living in it, right? Right?
UPDATE: In a radio appearance on WPTF Friday afternoon, Bob Lee expounded on his column, saying that Dave Wear had complained to Roy during the season about how much his kids were playing and how they were being used. He used the fact that Dad called Roy for the release rather than the twins as more evidence that Dave was in charge. He also revealed that the Wears' mom had moved to the area, furthering his whole helicopter argument.
If all this is accurate, and there's no reason to think it isn't, then it sounds reasonable to imagine Dave Wear saying "You mean I sent my wife and kids all the way across country for my kids to sit on the bench?"