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Player Profile: Larry Drew

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In the ramp up to the 2010-11 basketball season, Tar Heel Fan will be profiling key Tar Heels who will likely be major contributors this season. Today’s profile looks at guard Larry Drew II

Vitals

Number: 11
Position: Point guard
Height: 6-2
Weight: 180 lbs
Year: Junior
2009-10 Stats: 37 gms, 8.5 ppg, 6.0 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.9 A/TO, 35.2% 3P%
Career Stats: 75 gms, 4.9 ppg, 3.9 apg, 0.6 spg, 1.8 A/TO, 32.8% 3P%

What Happened Last Season

A lot, but this will just focus on what happened on the court.  Drew stepped into a nearly impossible situation by following a player in Lawson who had just had one of the greatest seasons in the history of UNC point guards and arguably should have been the NPOY.  In many ways, Drew's season last year was individual embodiment of the team's season: flashes of good-to-great play, followed by too many stretches that just made you shake your head.  Looking at the positives, last season Drew significantly improved his shooting percentages across the board and was 6th in the nation with his average of 6.0 APG.  In fact, Drew's final total of 222 assists was the 9th highest single-season total in UNC history.  The names ahead of him on that list?  Cota (4), Felton (2), Smith, and Lawson...  Pretty solid company.

On the downside, Drew had the second most turnovers in the ACC and many other times he had passes that may not have resulted in turnovers, but were not put in a place that gave the receiver the best opportunity to score.  Additionally, Drew's defensive play, especially off the ball, was most accurately described as "inconsistent," as judged by many of Roy's post game comments and Drew's very low steal total.  [Note: Steals are not necessarily a great measure of individual defensive prowess, as many steals result from good team play; however, less than 1.0 SPG is very low for a starting PG on a Roy Williams' team.]

Outlook For This Season

Point guard play and depth, has a chance to be a strength for UNC this season.  As was mentioned previously, Drew significantly improved his performance last year despite having to play 12 games with the index and middle fingers of his shooting hand taped together.  Looking at the games he played before and after that 12-game stretch, Drew had the following numbers:

45.2% FG, 39.4% 3PT, 72.6% FT, and 2.0 A/T

Simply performing at that level, consistently, for the entire season would represent a good baseline for this year's team, especially if he increases his defensive intensity and consistency.  It would also not be too surprising to see Drew play off-the-ball a little more this season, given his ability to hit the three and the team's depth at PG.

Main Concerns

Turnovers and passing accuracy.  The fact that Drew should be being playing with much more talented teammates, particularly in the backcourt, should help eliminate some of the turnovers on its own.  However, in order for that talent to be most effective, it will be imperative that the majority of Drew's passes are delivered in a fashion that allows the recipient to be in a good position to finish the play.  Defensive intensity will also be something to watch, but I think Roy will be able to better dictate that simply by adjusting playing time between Drew, Marshall, and in some cases, Strickland.

Wish List

11.0 ppg, 6.5 apg, 1.7 spg, 2.3 A/T, 48% FG, 42% 3PT, 80% FT

This may be asking a lot, as it is essentially Ty Lawson's line from 2008, but that is why it is a "Wish List."   Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton both made big jumps between their sophomore and junior seasons, so the question is, can Drew do the same?  While Drew is not the type of elite talent that they were, he is still very talented so it is reasonable to expect that he too will blossom this year, especially when you consider the improved talent he will have around him.  When all is said and done, I think the only thing that will keep Drew from leading the nation in assists will be the fact that Marshall will also see a lot of time at the point.