We all figured this was coming at some point, it was just a matter if any of the three really offered any substantive reasons for leaving. Turns out they didn't.
For the three Southern California natives, nothing could be finer than to play for North Carolina - except leaving to come home to play for UCLA.
The Wear twins, who played at Santa Ana Mater Dei High, left Chapel Hill last spring after only one season. Drew, who starred at Woodland Hills Taft, left in February after 21/2 years, though the point guard often contemplated leaving before that.
All three said playing time wasn't the primary issue. There were several factors, including fickle fans, a breakdown in communication with the coaching staff and a failure of the Carolina experience to meet expectations.
Drew's emotionally charged departure came after he lost his spot in the starting lineup to freshman Kendall Williams. But there was much more to his unhappiness.
Who the heck is Kendall Williams? Seriously you cannot even get Kendall Marshall's name right? And no, playing time wasn't the issue. In fact all three of these player ended up on the court more often than most UNC fans cared to see.
"I was there for 21/2 years and I didn't play my whole freshman year, so it's not if I'm playing or not playing," Drew said. "It was just a buildup of things since I first got there."
The Wears didn't wait nearly as long to make a change. Their freshman season came on the heels of Carolina's 2009 national title, and after losing five of their top seven players from that team the Tar Heels went 5-11 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and were relegated to the National Invitation Tournament.
"The energy just wasn't there as in the years prior, it seemed like," said Travis Wear, a 6-foot-10 forward who averaged 3.5 points in 10.1 minutes a game. "It just wasn't that fun of a year."
The Wears also endured what David described as the "shock" of a different culture in Chapel Hill, and they missed being around family and friends who had supported them since childhood. They couldn't always count on encouragement from Tar Heels fans, especially when the team struggled.
"When you're winning, everything's good. When you're losing, it's opposite," Drew said. "Going to a school like that, I was aware of the potential for how things could be. I wasn't aware to the extent
Holy crap, they cannot be that naive. So when a team is winning fans are mostly happy but if the team is losing they can be a little nasty. Really? Really guys? You didn't know this? I guess this is the "fickle" part but if they think the treatment at UCLA is going to be any different then are they in for a shock. Yes, expectations at UNC are incredibly high. I have never thought we, as a fanbase, was as nuts as say Kentucky's but every group of fans has their share of crazy people. Add to that a fan base accustomed to Final Fours watching UNC finish 10th in the ACC and chances are people might get a little crazy. This was a palatable shock to the fans and unfortunately the players on that team took their share of criticism. Some Other Kid got the brunt off it partly because there is some inequity in the blame were PGs are concerned but also because his attitude sucked. The Wears ended up being not quite what folks thought they would be or at best no one understood why Roy signed two players who did the same thing. So if Carolina did not meet their expectations the feeling was mutual as far as the fans were concerned. However the only place you can expect fans to behave how these guys wanted are at Fantasy University.
Drew alluded to the way he was used during a birthday rap he performed in March at the Conga Room in Los Angeles, saying, "They tried to tell me just to play my role, but who's really trying to stick to a script full of typos?"
More recently, Drew explained that he had written the rap "to vent," and didn't intend it as a parting shot at the Tar Heels. "I didn't mean it as a diss or anything like that," Drew said. "It was just something I had to get off my chest."
North Carolina Coach Roy Williams said he tried to shield Drew from criticism he faced during his sophomore season, when the team's fortunes plummeted.
"I explained to everyone he wasn't throwing the ball to Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green and Wayne Ellington," Williams said, referring to the stars from the national championship team.
Roy not only tried, Roy risked rebellion in his own fan base keeping Some Other Kid in the starting lineup well past the sell by date. The Wears did not hang around long enough to find out if things would get better the next season. In 2011, when it became clear that the team was probably better off with Marshall, Roy kept telling anyone who would listen how important Some Other Kid was to the team and how everyone was wrong to lay the troubles 2010 on him. It was both maddening in how stubborn was being and admirable he went to bat for him so often. And for all his troubles he got a slap in the face. Oh and if I say that perhaps Some Other Kid was a lazy, thin-skinned, thinks-he's-better-than-he-actually-is selfish player I am not trying to "diss" him I am just venting.
Drew's troubles transcended the fans. Larry Drew Sr., the Atlanta Hawks coach, said his son contemplated leaving after a freshman year in which he barely played. As a sophomore, playing alongside the Wear twins, Drew started 36 of 37 games and averaged six assists, tied for second in the ACC.
But Drew never felt completely comfortable, his father said. And the family became upset about the way the change in the starting lineup was handled.
"Nothing was said to Larry, nothing was said to me," Drew Sr. said. "That was a little hard to swallow."
Williams disputed Drew's claim, saying he talked about the lineup change "openly in front of the team before it happened. It was not a surprise to Larry. In fact, the day before the (next) game I talked about making three changes in the starting lineup."
And Roy is right. If you look at my game preview for the first Clemson game in January which game two days after the debacle in Atlanta(in front of SOK, Sr. no less) the rumor was out there Roy was changing the lineup. Roy later confirmed that he had three lineup changes in mind not just one. Leslie McDonald was supposed to start in place of Dexter Strickland and Roy also looked at pulling Tyler Zeller for Justin Knox. The Knox for Zeller move was the reason the McDonald for Strickland move was considered because Roy need to compensate for the loss of Zeller's offense in the starting lineup. On top of those two moves, Roy was also ready to change PGs with an eye of jumpstarting the offense. McDonald's lung injury kept him out of the Clemson game which nixed two of the lineup changes but the PG switch was a go(as it should have been.) Now, SOK, Sr. has a beef that(emphasis mine) "Nothing was said to Larry, nothing was said to me." The latter half of that statement tells you all you need to know about the SOK family and their expectations. As for whether Roy told Some Other Kid about the lineup change, I suppose they thought Roy would tell him in private before making it. That is not Roy's style or at least not so in this case. If memory serves, Roy really needed to light a fire under his team after the 20 point loss to Georgia Tech. The three proposed lineup changes were part of that and done so in front of the team to make it clear 2011 was not going to go down the same path as 2010. You could make the argument it worked though the change to Marshall is what people talking about most.
Another former Carolina player said communication issues between Drew and Williams were a running theme.
"Coach Williams wanted to put a lot of trust in Larry because he has a special relationship with all his point guards, but they bumped heads at times," said Deon Thompson, a former Torrance High star who was a teammate of Drew's for two seasons with the Tar Heels. "He was just a laid-back kid, so it was hard for Coach Williams to light that fire in him at times.
Yes, Deon Thompson just called Some Other Kid lazy.
What surprised Williams most wasn't that Drew left, but the timing of the decision - in the middle of a season and after a 32-point victory over Boston College in which Drew had nine assists and only one turnover.
Drew Sr., who informed Williams of his son's decision in a telephone call, described the situation as "not salvageable."
Drew said he had no reservations about the timing of his exit. "I feel like if I have other options, I should be able to explore them," he said. "By transferring, if I feel like if there's something out there better for me that I could pursue, I'm going to do it.
Poppycock. Leaving in February gained Some Other Kid very little in the way of exploring other options. In fact when Some Other Kid left everyone pretty much assumed he was heading to UCLA which is where he ended up as the season was wrapping up. In fact as the article concludes Some Other Kid talks about how great it was to be back in L.A., blah, blah, blah. Excuse me if I think this talk of exploring other options is complete garbage.
At this point it dawns on me that I probably spent way too much time discussing the weak tea being served by three players who (1) UNC was better off without and (2) who now consider themselves better of without UNC. However some of these reasons were operating at such a level of naivete or under the impression everyone is stupid that it at least merits discussion. I think Roy deserves credit for answering the reporter's question on the subject. Granted that is as much about not tainting the southern California recruiting grounds he is so fond of but at least his comments gave balance to the article. Hopefully this really is the end of the Great Transfer Saga of 2010-11. Well, until the NCAA sticks UNC and UCLA in the same bracket for the 2013 NCAA Tournament.